Bulgaria: “A hidden secret gem”

Three Florida educators who lead study-abroad trips say Bulgaria is an ideal spot for students looking for some adventure and a rich learning experience.
“The people are very welcoming and kind and friendly,” said Lori Lee, a historical archaeologist at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. “The landscape is absolutely beautiful. The layers of history are incredible, absolutely incredible.”
“The people have been so happy and so proud. Resilience is … what they have,” said Jessica Howell, a history professor at Flagler College. “What it is to be a Bulgarian has really survived and thrived.”
“The people are amazing here,” said Lisa Fiala, a Flagler College instructor and former Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria. “The food is incredible. The scenery, the nature… Bulgaria is … a hidden secret gem.”

A nonprofit called Stone & Compass handles Bulgaria program activities for Flagler College. Rob Goodwin, the NGO’s co-founder, described the Bulgarian people this way:
“At first sight, stoic and maybe rugged. Within 30 minutes, bundles of love, hearts on their shoulders. I think that’s the best way to describe them. They’re such amazing people. They have such a wealth of history all rolled up into one, good and bad. But they’ve persevered through, you know, 1,000 years of multiple different occupations and they’ve come out of it still smiling and giving and warm, which is really commendable and it’s rare.”
Flagler College students are traveling to Bulgaria as part of a program called Flagler College Sophomore High Impact Practice, or FlagSHIP. Its goal is to prepare second-year students “to be informed and ethical citizens in a diverse, dynamic, and globalized world.”
I plan to teach a FlagSHIP course about travel writing and photographer in Bulgaria in May 2023.

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