5 June – 2 July 2022
At the beginning of 2022, once international travel restrictions have started to ease down, each of the 12 Asian FRIENDS HEIs organised a new, second Digital Storytelling Contest to select students to participate in the Student Boot Camp in the summer of 2022. As a result, 52 students from Bhutan, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand were appointed to take part in this key student event hosted by VUM in Bulgaria. The main objective of the FRIENDS project is to develop the global competence of partner countries universities’ students through the integration of intercultural dimensions into universities’ formal and informal curriculum. The chief goal of the Student Boot Camp activity in the project is to equip participating students with skills and knowledge in the areas of cross-cultural studies, creativity and innovation, art management, event management, project management, leadership and student engagement that will empower them to co-run and co-manage the FRIENDS Teahouses operating at their universities since 2021. The Student Boot Camp of summer 2022 built on the achievements
From 5 June 2022 until 2 July 2022, 49 winners of the FRIENDS Digital Storytelling contests attended the Student Boot Camp in person in Bulgaria with three student representatives of RIM in Bhutan joining the event online. The tailored agenda of the Student Boot Camp included a variety of in-class training and learning activities, group projects design and development, and exciting extra-curricular events and trips for cultural immersion and intercultural engagement. Modules taught were in the areas of Cross-cultural Studies, Creativity and Innovation, and Event Management. Detailed information about the group project assignment on Intercultural Awareness and Cultural Diversity students had to jointly prepare and defend could be found here. The lecturers delivering the modules were Dr Nedka Dimitrova from VUM, Dr Aneta Alexander from SUT in Poland, and Muge Irfanoglu from IAU in Turkey. In addition, Dr Sheryl Satorre from UC in the Philippines who was visiting VUM in the framework of the Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility programme at the time of the Boot Camp held a crash course in pitching and presenting to the students as part the project’s efforts to improve their global and communication skills. The agenda and timeline of the four-week long student training event could be found here.
During the second week of the FRIENDS Student Boot Camp, VUM was the host of the “FRIENDS Meet India!” event. Students from Bhutan, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand organised, together with a group of visiting students from India, an evening to celebrate the culture of the different Asian countries together with the host university in Bulgaria.
In addition to the classes, students had the opportunity to enjoy the lively Bulgarian Black Sea coast and summer life. The millennial history of Bulgaria fascinated the bootcampers, who had a chance to visit Balchik and Cape Kaliakra, Nessebar, a UNESCO heritage site, Aladzha monastery and Ravadinovo Castle. During the city tour of Varna, students visited the most interesting sightseeing areas of the seaside capital of Bulgaria. A lunch at the VUM Culinary Arts Institute in Varna provided the students with a different view on the traditional Bulgarian cuisine. The mix of intercultural experiences was amplified during the International Yoga Day on 21 June 2022 when students attended, alongside with their Bulgarian and Indian peers, an organised yoga session.
On 1 July 2022, during a closing ceremony, Prof. Todor Radev, VUM President presented the Certificates of Completion to the FRIENDS Boot Camp students. The month-long training was necessary to help prepare the students for their additional responsibility of keeping the FRIENDS Teahouses operational. Emphasising on capacity-building, internationalisation at home, and cultural awareness, the students have left the Boot Camp prepared with valuable knowledge in strengthening campus diversity.
The end of the FRIENDS Boot Camp 2022 is leaving a dozens of memories that will live forever in the minds and hearts of the students who attended it. During this short time they visited VUM, they created new friendships and discovered what it takes to learn and to listen. During the month-long Boot Camp, students added their part to the diversity of the university life at VUM and returned home to continue their mission of Internationalisation at Home.
(Agenda of the Boot Camp, FRIENDS Student Boot Camp IACD Module Book, Presentation of Aneta Alexander from SUT, IACD Group 1 Presentation, IACD Group 2 Presentation, IACD Group 3 Presentation, IACD Group 4 Presentation, IACD Group 5 Presentation, IACD Group 6 Presentation, IACD Group 7 Presentation, IACD Group 8 Presentation)