Our day started early as we were met by Desislava just outside of the Metro station. From there she escorted us to the conference venue, The Inter Expo Centre. The venue was beautiful and we were both impressed with the quality of the room, the technical support and the simultaneous translation services.
Following greetings from the Deputy Minister of Education and a representative of the funding organization (the Velux Foundation of Denmark) the conference was opened by a powerful speech by Iva Boneva and why schools are not and should not be left alone in their efforts to build inclusive learning environments.
We then took the stage to share our learning with the audience, which numbered over 300 people, most of whom were Bulgarian educators. Of note is that these educators came to the conference on their day off, with many of them only being reimbursed for their travel expenses.
For the next hour, we spoke to the gathering before spending 20 minutes answering questions. We had several interesting questions before they had to be cut off for lunch, but with the help of our accompanying translator, Desislava, we spent the entire lunch hour and beyond answering questions.
We then had the pleasure of spending the rest of the conference day enjoying panel presentations on “The Role of Business in supporting Inclusive School Environments” and “Local Institutions-Partners of Inclusion in the community”. These were both interesting and inspiring and we left impressed with the level of ingenuity and commitment by schools and communities.
The conference day closed with a big draw where Lasha and I gave away six pairs of Career Trek toques and mittens. To say that these were a hit would be an understatement. Many of the winners were more than appreciative and some of them were quite emotional. It was a beautiful way to end our conference day.
After cabbing back to our apartment, we grabbed a late supper and then back home for a well-deserved l-o-o-o-n-g sleep.