By Toma Pavlov, YES Bulgaria ’12
The first part was the re-entry seminar for the five of us who only three months ago were still living at a host family in one of the fifty states. During the time in America, we didn’t have the opportunity to see each other and share what we experienced. But now, once we returned, at the reentry seminar we had that chance. Especially for the occasion, the Regional Director of American Councils in Southeast Europe, Ms. Sarah Hennessey, came from Belgrade, Serbia. We discussed what we experienced during our time in America, difficulties that we had, and some of our greatest moments in our host community. An important part of the re-entry seminar was how to overcome culture shock and readjust. It is a process that most of us have gone through for the nearly four months since we came back to our home country. Despite this fact, it was worthwhile to hear valuable advice from Ms. Sarah Hennessey, who has experience in working with exchange students that are in the process of overcoming culture shock after their arrival back home.
Later that day, the rest of the Bulgarian alumni joined us. We had some time to get to know each other and they told us more about how the YES program continues from now on. They shared stories about past projects that they were involved in and offered us tips on how to organize future projects. Having understood the basics of writing and realizing a project, it was time to brainstorm ideas. A variety of ideas were heard and some were accepted by the whole group as a future project. It is great that we can rely on alumni that already have experience with writing projects and, of course, that we may always ask the staff from American Councils for assistance.
I am very happy to have had the chance to participate in the re-entry seminar and the monthly meeting in Sofia. I got to know some new people that I have a lot in common with and also learned from them about future activities as an alumnus. If I had to summarize the experience in one sentence, it would be: “Meeting with other alumni is the greatest way to feel that somebody actually understands what you have gone through—both good and bad—while you were in the U.S.”