To Belgrade and Back: A Story from the Zlatarski School trip to Serbia

A group from Zlatarski International School participate in an international conference in Serbia. Denis, Ivan, Tsvetelina and their English literature teacher Detelina tell us about their experience abroad.

“The four of us – Denis, Ivan, Tsveti and I – are on the bus to Sofia, on our way back from Belgrade where we attended the international conference “International Days at Rudjer”, which took place at Rudjer Boshkovich IB World School. The monotonous movement of the bus, the Serbian music on the radio and the fact that we are the only Bulgarians on the bus make us feel as if we are still in Belgrade, on the night boat trip down the River Sava perhaps, where our kind hosts took us on the second day of our stay. It is no wonder that our conversation has to do with the adventure in Belgrade.

“Well, I bet when we get back to Sofia, the first thing they would ask us would be what valuable experience we have gained from this international conference”, says Denis half jokingly and half-seriously, trying to figure out how to put everything we have experienced in just one sentence.

“Well, first of all, we had the opportunity to get to know students from Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Turkey, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina… and exchange cultural and academic experience with them”, answers Tsveti in one breath, enumerating the participants on her fingers.

“Oh, come on, this is right, but sounds a bit boring, don’t you think? What else did we learn?”, asks Ivan.

“Apart from all that, we did learn some Serbian. For example, ‘hvala’ means “thank you”, say I with a smile, recollecting the fact that although the official language of instruction was English, we were able to understand each other perfectly well in our own languages. After all, all, the countries from the region are so unique, but also so similar to each other.

“Come on, let’s be serious here”, adds Denis. “The topics we discussed were really interesting. The debate on the “We are the 99%” topic really appealed to me. We have discussed this in class with our Economics teacher”.

“And the workshop on the processes of integration in the Balkans was also interesting. As someone who has chosen IB History, I did find it useful”.

“The guest speakers from the University of Belgrade and the University of Munich also contributed to the conference a lot by sharing with us their professional expertise. I enjoyed the Professor from Munich the most. His charismatic personality and attracting way of presenting made me think about my presentation skills. He did give me a hint or two on how to improve those”, intervenes Ivan.

“Besides, their valuable professional experience gave us a profound insight into the concerns of the modern world”, I add, looking through the window.
“What I am most proud of is the way we did in all the activities”, Cveti says.

“Oh, yes, we did so well! Our presentation made a great impression, not to mention our academic achievements”, Ivan proudly notes.

“The faces they had when you, Ivan, mentioned the most recent IB scores of Class 2011 were worth taking a picture of”, says Denis, smiling. I cannot but smile too, at the thought of how proud I was with my students when they stood there talking, the whole audience listening to them, being charmed not only by their English, but by their performance.

“And the debate – it was very heated, we were almost fighting at the end. Both sides were really good and had their arguments and this made the jury’s work really hard”, Tsveti continues. She really got into this debate.

“Yes, that’s true”, Denis agrees. “I couldn’t decide at first who the winner should be. Both of you defended your causes really well and made my job a real challenge”.

“However, the most important thing was not the win but the experience we gained and the things we learned, says Ivan, summing up the main aim of the conference”.

“Yes, that’s true. I learned what an “aggregate demand” is. I didn’t know this before. Thanks God I am not an IB Economics teacher”, I add, laughing.

“But wait a minute”, Tsveti interrupts, excited. “People would want to know what else we have done in Serbia”.

Denis answers promptly, “I am really happy that I had the opportunity to see a Serbian disco. It looked really great from the outside. I quite enjoyed that view and the good company I was in”.

“Don’t we forget something?”, all of a sudden Ivan asks. “On our last day we visited a live performance of talented young Serbian musicians who played songs of U2, Sting, Robbie Williams and Phil Collins in one of the most famous riverside bars in Belgrade. I thoroughly enjoyed that.”

“I just wish the students of Zlatarski School perform so well as you did when they have the chance to visit “International Days at Rudjer” next year”, I say and am about to continue my chain of thought when the bus slows down and finally stops. It is time to get off. We have reached the Bulgarian border…