Ambassadors to Bulgaria – Update #4

Zdravei and Hello!

The past two days have been busy, but exciting! We woke up eager and ready to raft down the scenic Struma river with members of Bulgaria’s national rafting team. This fast moving river, which is in Bulgaria and Greece, splashed and tossed us around. Some of the rapids even went over our heads! However, with the aid of our guides, we raced as separate boats and were able to conquer the river and it’s many rapids. After drying off and eating lunch, we drove back to the hotel for needed rest. Who knew rafting would be such a workout?

Later, met by alumni of BBYO Bulgaria, we heard stories about Ambassadors to Bulgaria’s early years. The first trip happened 20 years ago in 1998, and some members of our alumni participated in 2000. They shared their memories and compared their experience to ours. Early on, Ambassadors to Bulgaria only included Bulgaria, Israel and the United States. The alumni were proud to see how the program has expanded to include more countries, more communities and more teens! They shared how their time in BBYO helped shape the responsibility they felt for their communities and our global Jewish community, our global family.

Following the alumni panel, we separated and participated in a rich BBYO tradition where the boys, AZA, and girls, BBG, programmed independently. The Alephs (boys) discussed the holocaust the through poem and song, and the BBGs (girls) explored their identity. After, each group welcomed new members in our global movement by formally inducting members of our community. They received member manuals and pins that connect them to our 94 and 74 year histories.

Our final day was a full our leadership for our community, responsibility for others and deepening our connection to this family. In groups, we traveled across the city to homes of elderly members of the Jewish community. We brought them gifts, ate together and spoke about everything! Our communities back home, their families, communist times and their connection to the Jewish community in Sofia. After pictures and a departing hug, we gathered in the center of Sofia for last minute souvenir shopping, lunch and to enjoy the sights of this bustling city.

We returned to the Jewish Community Center to speak with His Excellency, United States Ambassador to Bulgaria, Eric Rubin. A career diplomat, Mr. Rubin spoke to us about his role as an ambassador and answered questions from the group. He related his own work to us and shared his insight on how to effectively advocate on behalf of a community, which we are not currently in. As teens preparing to leave the program as ambassadors for the global Jewish community, this message was important.

Before our concluding party in a restaurant with panoramic views of Sofia, we had our concluding reflection. After reviewing our itinerary and and recalling memories from each day, we identified learnings, lessons and moments of impact through our share journey. We took those lessons and filled in the following sentence: What I now know is… ,therefore I will… As ambassadors for our global family, we want to determine how we will take this experience. Many people shared their gratitude and told us how they plan on returning home as ambassadors. Though we left the program and our community has continued to other camps, programs or gone home, we know that once in the BBYO family, always in the BBYO family!

Thank you for a great summer!

Ambassadors to Bulgaria 2018

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