Eleven High Schools in the Midwest Participated in Euro Challenge 2014

Eleven high schools from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin participated in the 2014 Euro Challenge.

GlobalFest 2014

GlobalFest is an annual event that celebrates world languages and cultures, and encourages middle and high school students to make connections with the global society.

U-46 Teacher Travels the Globe to Enhance Her Lessons

Elgin Area School District teacher Chris LaRue spent two weeks in Turkey in 2013, a trip that was almost entirely funded by the Turkish Cultural Foundation.

EU Centers of Excellence Education Trip to Belgium

Read two teachers' experiences during the 2013 EU Centers of Excellence Education Trip to Belgium.

TED Helps European and American Educators Connect

The Transatlantic Educators Dialogue (TED), held from February through May, gives American and European educators an opportunity to meet virtually to discuss educational issues.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Transatlantic Educator's Dialogue (TED) Series-Week Eight

From January to May, the European Union Center invites educators from throughout the world to come together in an online setting and discuss important topics in modern educational practice and politics. As part of this discussion, students from the University of Illinois are invited to follow the discussion and write short posts about related topics on a country of interest. Lindsay Ozburn, a student in the EU Center’s Masters of Arts in European Union Studies program, will be contributing to this series through a multi-week study of Bulgarian politics and government. Her research will provide a thoughtful and helpful case study that will give TED participants a chance to see how their discussion topics are expressed in real life.

Week Eight Prompt: Please discuss how your country has approached recent developments in technology, especially information technology. Do many people use the internet? How fast is wifi and mobile networks? Does your country conduct frequent initiatives to further technological development, or is it left primarily to the private sector? Is there a vibrant local technology market, or are high-technologies exported in from other countries? Which technological sectors is your country primarily known for? Are the people of your country consume much technology, or do they tend to spend their money on other items? How heavily engaged are the people of your country on facebook or other social media sites? Does your country have strong measures in place to address new areas of cybercrime like identity theft, online bullying, hacking, etc?

Bulgaria’s Tech Industry
Lindsay Ozburn, MAEUS

While an admittedly small country in Europe, it has been growing as a tech giant since the early 2000s. According to Forbes, Bulgaria is ranked 5th in world for high-quality broadband and 1st in Europe. Despite having some of the fastest internet in the world, as of 2013 only 53.1% of Bulgarians use the internet, according to the World Bank. Regardless, the country is becoming known as Europe’s Silicon Valley, steadily growing the technology and IT industry since – with the exception of 2008-2010 during the peak of the European financial crisis (Marko Benda, edukwest.eu, 2015). According to Benda, while Bulgaria’s market is considered one of the least developed in Europe, steady growth is expected to push Bulgaria amongst giants.

Bulgaria has a wealth of high-skilled programmers, working for hundreds of smaller software companies. These smaller companies hold contracts with some the world’s biggest customers, including BMW, Boeing, CISCO, HP, vmware, and Nortel, according to the “Information Technology in Bulgaria” report published with support from the European Fund for Regional Development. As these skilled laborers are relatively low-cost compared to other parts of the world, they are often the recipients of outsourcing from large businesses in major countries such as the US. Additionally, their strategic geographic location allows them access to European, Russian, and some Asian markets. Bulgaria’s IT industry appears to be a good mix of private and public companies, and some NGOs, as well.
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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

TRANSATLANTIC EDUCATOR'S DIALOGUE (TED) SERIES – Week Seven

From January to May, the European Union Center invites educators from throughout the world to come together in an online setting and discuss important topics in modern educational practice and politics. As part of this discussion, students from the University of Illinois are invited to follow the discussion and write short posts about related topics on a country of interest. Lindsay Ozburn, a student in the EU Center’s Masters of Arts in European Union Studies program, will be contributing to this series through a multi-week study of Bulgarian politics and government. Her research will provide a thoughtful and helpful case study that will give TED participants a chance to see how their discussion topics are expressed in real life. 

Week Seven Prompt: How does your country handle issues of bullying and youth violence. Who makes the decisions regarding what is or is not acceptable? Are they done at the school level, school district level, state/provincial or national level? Has there been national attention or top-level efforts to stop bullying and youth violence? Have they been successful? In the last ten years, has there been a stand-out case or cases that brought media attention to this topic? Is bullying more common in a particular level of education (elementary, secondary, post-secondary) or is it widespread?

“I am not scared” – Combating Violence and Bullying in Bulgarian Schools
Lindsay Ozburn, MAEUS Student

As technological advancements have crept into many corners of the world, so, too, has cyberbullying amongst young children and teenagers. The European Commission and several member states have recognized this increase in bullying amongst its youth over the past decade. In response, several countries, including Bulgaria, have participated in the “I am not scared” project, supported by the European Commission under the Lifelong Learning Program. Bulgaria has participated in this program since 2010, aiming to “identify the best European strategies to prevent bullying”, with a bottom-up approach (Staneva, 2011:79, 87). In Bulgaria, it is supported specifically by Zinev Art Technologies.

Figure 1: uclacommons.com
According to a poll conducted in 2006, almost 70% of Bulgarian students admitted there were cases of aggression in their school, with three-quarters of parental responders citing poor family environment and lack of discipline at school as the main proponents of this aggression (Dimitriova, 2006). Polling performed by UNICEF in 2007 showed the 25% of children believed they were bullied once a week or more (Staneva, 2011:83). In regards to cyberbullying, again, 25% of teenagers 10-14 believed they were bullied at least once a week, through a variety of electronic mediums. Adding to this issue is the unlikelihood of a child reporting the bullying, according to Staneva.

While Bulgaria does participate in the “I am not scared” program, it does not currently have state policy to reduce or prevent violence and bullying in schools. There are resources, however, for children in situations of domestic abuse or bullying outside of the family. One in particular, the National Programme for Child Protection, offers support “for the better coordination and implementation of sectoral policies to achieve more effective protection of fundamental rights of children in Bulgaria” (Staneva, 2011:86).

For more information and statistics on violence and bullying in Bulgaria, including the “I am not scared” project, see Zornitsa Staneva’s article.
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