The first-ever Summer Leadership Academy took place on the AUBG campus June 24 – 28, 2023. The program is organized by the Association of Informal Education and Entrepreneurship with the general support of the “America for Bulgaria” Foundation and hosted by AUBG.
For five days, 85 students from all over Bulgaria between the ages of 15 and 18 built leadership qualities and skills through a combination of theoretical lectures, practical exercises, group games, debates, solving social cases, and simulations. Over 300 students applied for the academy, of which 50 were approved and accepted with scholarships from America for Bulgaria Foundation, and another 35 participated at their own expense.
During the academy, the organizers, AUBG current students, alumni, and friends, presented topics related to the development of leadership skills – financial literacy, useful habits, communication skills, skills of the future, and managing people and teams.
“Our main goal is not only to complement the traditional educational system, that is mainly aimed at theoretical knowledge in the various disciplines,” said the Director of the academy and Chairman of the association Yuliy Yuliev (‘19).
“We strive to help students develop soft skills by offering them experiential learning – pragmatic lectures, engaging team activities and lots of practical exercises on the theory of leadership, communication and teamwork – things that are not really put on focus in school.”
One of the hands-on tasks the students participated in was a political simulation to illustrate how different parts of an imaginary continent might trade resources and clear up their political relationships.
“Our motivation behind the organization of this and similar types of events is to create a network of active young people in the country,” said AUBG student Elena Zaharieva, organizer and Director of Participants’ Well-being of the academy. “This way, we show them how much meaning and opportunities for development there are in Bulgaria, as long as they find themselves in an environment of active young people, not much older than them, but who have already gained experience that they want to pass on. This is how mentors help participants discover and develop their potential.”
Outside the classrooms, the organizers also tried to draw attention to physical health. Every day, students benefited from the AUBG campus sports facility with fitness instructors and forming teams in volleyball, basketball, soccer, and running. Sports were part of the compulsory program.
After the academy, participants will have the opportunity to apply for a summer internship at one of the academy’s partner organizations. The best students will be able to spend the summer developing their skills in a variety of fields – from programming, through marketing and fintech, to journalism. Intern positions provided by BAV.BG , Vectory Design, The Recursive, Bitcoin Ready, European Youth Card and FirstByt.