Ryan James, Ed.D.
Trip Report for Bulgaria May 4- 10, 2005
At the request of Ronda Critchlow, Junior English Language Fellow at the University of Plovdiv, I was invited to give educational presentations to the faculty and students. The dates were set based on faculty advice and convenience. The Bulgarian EFL conference was also scheduled during this time frame; therefore it was agreed that I would also attend and present at this conference. A presentation for Oxford Publishing was also included. The list of presentations follows. They were decided after Ms. Critchlow surveyed the faculty for topic suggestions.
I arrived in Sofia on May 4, 2005 and took a taxi to the bus station, where I took the bus to Plovdiv. I was met at the bus station by Ms. Critchlow and her Bulgarian counterpart. After settling into the hotel, the three of us went to dinner to discuss the presentations that would follow. Both were most hospitable and made me feel welcomed and relaxed immediately.
May 5, 2005 I delivered three presentations. The full schedule is below.
All presentations were well advertised. The university had flyers posted on bulletin boards, professors had announced them to their students, and invitations were sent out to the public school teachers.
The attendance at the presentations was as follows:
At the first presentation there were 28 participants.
There were 27 participants at the second presentation.
The third presentation at Oxford Publishing had 12 participants.
The Oxford Publishing rep was disappointed at the turnout since she had 25 confirmations; however, she was overwhelmed that the participants became so involved in the activities.
May 6, 2005 was a national holiday and everything was closed. We originally had plans to leave for Sofia on this day, but it was decided to wait until Saturday morning, due to the holiday. This necessitated booking the hotel in Plovdiv for one extra night not planned, and then canceling one night at the hotel in Sofia.
May 7, 2005, Ms. Critchlow and I took an early bus to Sofia. We arrived at the conference during the registration period and spent the entire day and evening at the conference.
May 8, 2005 we both had presentations at the conference. I was extremely pleased that the conference organizers assigned me to an extra large room. Every seat was filled and late comers left due to lack of seating. The room held 50 seats.
Later in the afternoon, I attended Ms. Critchlow’s presentation, which was excellent, well received and well attended. We left Sofia to return to Plovdiv late in the afternoon.
Monday, May 9, 2005 I again gave three presentations at the university.
Presentation one had 8 participants.
Presentation two had 30 participants.
Presentation three had 14 participants.
I had an opportunity to meet many of the staff and students. Many faculty members apologized for not attending various presentations as they had time conflicts. They admitted that when this was first arranged, they thought they would be able to attend more sessions, but other things occurred in the meantime.
Due to issues with infrastructure, there was no possibility to make copies of the hand-outs for attendees either at the university or for the conference. The university only has one photocopier that is not coin operated and it was not working by the time I had arrived. Each hand-out was lengthy and it would have taken an unusual amount of time and coins to prepare copies for the participants. However, all lecture notes and hand-outs were given to Ms. Critchlow on a DVD for reference and to be distributed as needed.
I would be remiss if I did not add that Ms. Critchlow was an exemplary hostess. She guided me along the entire stay, to make sure that everything ran as smoothly as possible. She went above and beyond to entertain me in the free time I had and make my stay extremely enjoyable. Even in our free time, we met with and had dinner with students and other professors, so this was productive time also. It is evident that Ms. Critchlow’s presence at this university is welcomed, appreciated, and honored. The faculty and students have a great deal of respect for her as a person and as a professional. Being able to work with her, the staff, and the students was a significant highlight in my professional career. I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to be of professional assistance to Ms. Critchlow again.
Ryan James, Ed.D. May 16, 2005
The Paisii Hilendarski University of Plovdiv Presents:
Teacher-Training Workshops and Student Enrichment Seminars
Dr. Ryan James, American Council for English Studies; Budapest, Hungary
Plovdiv University (New Building); American Corner, 5th floor, rm 502
Thursday, May 5, 2005:
Topic: “The American Educational System: Background and Current Issues”
Topic: “Uses of American Slang and Other Expressions: What’s Up With That?”
Topic: “One Picture Is Worth 100 English Lessons”
Monday, May 9, 2005
Topic: “Developing Your Curriculum: How to Enhance Learning with Authentic Materials That Will Motivate Student Learning”
Topic: “Academic vs. Social English: How to Use and Teach the Differences”
Topic: “The Teacher as Researcher in the Classroom: Are Your Students
Learning What You Think You Are Teaching?”