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May 29, 2012

Summer Academy: May 2012 Report

Dear Friends,
As we are nearing the end of your full year program, we are looking forward to this year's summer academy.
This summer we will pair our participating youths with entreprenuers in order to give them the chance of apprenticeship. Earlier in the full year program, we had a career advisor spend some time with the children in order to identify the carrers they are interested in. As a result of this initiative, every child received a roadmap to the
carreer of thie choice. Part of this roadmap is of course a summer job or internship. We are currently working on identifying and contacting potential employers and convincing them to mentor our participating youths. This is sometimes a very tough goal as the most challenging aspect is ensuring that the youth we work with maintain consistence attendance to their work duties and do not give up because of minor difficultires. We're working out together with various friends and business contacts relevant summer internship opportunities for our target youth. Quite a few of them are interested in the restaurant business, having gone through cooking courses at their vocational schools, so we'll be looking to place them in that sector. For many of them, having a driving license, on top of a vocational skill, will open up more professional opportunities, so we'll likely offer scholarships for driving lessons to them. We'll keep you posted about more concrete plans as we finalize the upcoming summer arrangements.
We would like to take the chance to thank you for you unconditional support.
You can always contact us with any suggestions and/or comments.
Best Regards,

Apr 18, 2012

Life Skills Program April 2012 Update

Dear friends,

We are more than halfway through our academic year and life skills program. As noted in earlier reports, this year we took action to close the gaps in academic skills mostly all children have in the homes we work with. In
December we managed to recruit the help of several very motivated and devoted young men and women whose mission is to help our participating youths in subjects like mathematics, English and Bulgarian. In January
our new volunteers started working with the children and we are glad to report that the number of participating youths from the orphanages we work with, has been increasing - if we started with 3-5 youth in some places, now we have 6-10 attending classes.

We've also seen very significant results in terms of academic achievement especially for those youth who are preparing to enter university. Two of our oldest trainees (one is 22 and the other 25) have recently passed successfully their university entry exams. We're very proud of their achievement that shows all the hard work our volunteer Niki put into working with them is paying off manyfold!

In the past three months our discussion topics with the children were centered around caring for one's health. We had some guest speakers who spoke about dental care, STDs and psychological disorders. These are usually on the top of the list of most interesting topics to talk about. As in previous years, we had great turnout and very lively

From here, we are moving on with our life skills program toward the management module where we discuss topics like budgeting, time planning, soft skill and career planning.

We will continue to keep you updated on our progress and exciting new developments.

Thank you for your support!

Feb 6, 2012

Summer Academy: January 2012 Report

Career orientation could also be a group effort :)
Career orientation could also be a group effort :)

Dear Friends,


As 2012 has just started, we are happy to have made our first steps to creating an impacting Summer Academy this upcoming summer.

Thanks to significant grant funding we were able to win last fall, we’ve been able to provide our trainees – youth living without parental care in Sofia, Plovdiv, Gabrovo and Berkovitsa – with professional career orientation advice, psychological support and lessons in Bulgarian, Math and English. These three activities are giving us additional information about the kinds of activities that would be most useful to engage our trainees in this summer. In addition, some of our students have been very inspired by the volunteers teaching them school subjects and have decided they want to apply to university. For example, Nasko, a 25-year old, who’s been living in various institutions (currently in a shelter in downtown Sofia) over the years, has recently made up his mind to apply to the Technical University in Sofia where he could study computer science or engineering. He’s working hard with his math teacher, our volunteer Nikola, to prepare for the entry exam. As Nikola himself is a student at the Technical University, he uses their sessions together to give additional information to Nasko about what it means to be a university student and how to best prepare. Over the summer Nasko will most likely be passing his university exam and preparing, with our help, to plan out his year – combining his studies and work in the most effective way.

These additional resources we’re providing have also encouraged some of our trainees from last year to re-engage with our program as they would like to benefit from vocational and skills trainings and summer internships. We are very strict in terms of our requirement that only those youth who come regularly to our life-skills training sessions, extra classes and career orientation sessions will be selected for the Summer Academy vocational training and professional opportunities. We’re right now in the process of identifying everyone’s core professional interest (with the help of a career planning professional) and choosing together the types of trainings that would be most suitable for each participant. For, example, it’s been Mihaela’s dream for a long time to become a hair stylist. We’re considering a possibility to arrange for her an internship at a popular Sofia hair stylist studio. In the meantime, she needs to improve her English and Bulgarian language knowledge and grammar, so we would probably provide her with additional instruction throughout the summer. She also needs to prepare for her high-school graduation exam (matura), and the summer would be a good time to study for that.

As you see, our Summer Academy this year will be tailored for every youth’s needs and aspirations. Given that we about 15 of our current students are at the age where it makes sense to start thinking about continuing their education beyond high school or finding/changing their jobs, we will have the capacity to offer customized options to every single one. If any of you, living in Bulgaria, would be interested in providing an internship opportunity for our trainees, please get in touch!

Thank you all for your continuous, generous support!


Best Regards,  

Step for Bulgaria volunteer team

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