Today Team one began their adventure at the military academy in Shumen, Bulgaria. We were briefed by the colonel in charge of the language department, as well as the teachers that work with the students. Each Cadet was assigned a different classroom with various levels of English understanding. We will work with the students of the military academy to improve their English and learn about each others culture.
We found it easy to talk to the Bulgarians and it was exciting to learn about their background in the military and what they were doing in Shumen. Most of the Bulgarian students were either senior NCOs or officers in various branches of the military. This means that most of them have a lot of experience in the military, which makes conversation even better.
Today was mostly filled with introductions and spontaneous topics, but the rest of the week involves certain lesson plans and specific topics that the teacher wants to address. At noon, sirens began to go off and the students remained silent and still during the moment. After the sirens finished, the Bulgarians gladly explained to us that it happens every year on June 2 at noon. This day commemorates the Heroes of Bulgaria. One soldier said that it was similar to our Memorial Day in the United States.
After Team one finished their time at the military academy, we decided to walk the 1,300 steps of Shumen. This long path of stone steps leads to a large monument at the top of a mountain. After reaching the top, we were able to listen to a recording of the history behind the steps and the meaning of certain aspects on the monument. The steps were created to symbolize the 1,300 years of Bulgaria and the monuments symbolize some of the early leaders. The view was spectacular and the group was able to capture a lot of photos!
(Note: Bulgaria is one of about 40 countries where Army ROTC Cadets deploy during the summer months on Cultural Understanding Language Proficiency missions. These missions are scheduled at the request of the host country and the U.S. Embassy and are designed to give Cadets experience that will make them well-rounded leaders. Cadets learn about other cultures, local values and norms and the language—all while teaching conversational English, performing humanitarian missions, and working with a foreign military.)