Seminar in Bulgarian language and culture in Veliko Turnovo brings together participants from four continents

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The ambition to study Bulgaria’s language, traditions, past and present brought together people from four continents in Veliko Turnovo for the 42nd international seminar in Bulgarian language and culture organized by the St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Turnovo, the Ministry of Education and Veliko Turnovo municipality. The forum opened on 15 July and will end on 4 August.

“It is such a pleasant environment, and the weather is great! The participants are having a really good time,” says Prof. Dr. Hristo Bonjolov, director of the seminar:


“110 people registered for this year’s seminar. We currently have 100 people and they come from 36 countries. We are expecting new arrivals during the second week. By a tradition we have many people coming from Germany, Russia, Poland, Serbia. This year we have many participants from China, and for the first time – from Azerbaijan and Vietnam.”

All kinds of people are taking part in the seminar – Slavicists, musicians, teachers, lawyers, translators, pensioners, there is even a nuclear energy expert from the UK. Some of them have Bulgarian roots, others have mixed marriages, there are some who want to get to know a culture that is new to them. And as the range of participants is very wide, for the Bulgarian language classes they are divided up into groups, depending on their level of knowledge, says Prof. Bonjolov:

“We start at А0 and end at С2. That means from people who do not know the alphabet and come from countries where the Cyrillic alphabet is unknown, to translators from countries of the EU, i.e. we are following the European reference levels А1, А2, В1…, but we start with people who don’t even have any notion of the Cyrillic alphabet.”

As always, the organizers are offering the participants an array of different activities, bringing them in contact with the past and the present of Bulgaria. Besides the study of the Bulgarian language there will be specialized seminars:

“There are more traditional subjects like history, culture and art, as well as Bulgarian folklore and ethnography. The seminar invariably features modern Bulgarian language as well as Bulgarian literature and contemporary Bulgarian cinema. This year we added “Tourism, Multilingualism and Translation” with one of our leading lecturers Prof. Lyudmila Ivanova. We aim to maintain the level from previous years but also to add new and different things.”


The programme also features theme nights – of Bulgarian literature, arts and crafts, cuisine. Besides the old Bulgarian capital – Veliko Turnovo – the participants will also be able to see pearls of architecture from the national Revival period like Zheravna and Arbanassi.

For those who would like to join the seminar in the future, Prof. Hristo Bonjolov explains:

“There are three programmes they can take part in. One is the programme by the Ministry of Education, agreements with countries on an exchange of students – those studying the Bulgarian language and students from Bulgaria studying the languages of other countries. For this category, the universities of Veliko Turnovo and Sofia are given state quotas. The second category are people visiting the university by force of international agreements. The third category are people who finance their Bulgarian language studies at the summer seminar themselves. All the relevant information is available on the website of the university, including forms that can be filled out for the two- and three-week programmes. The fee covers all costs – the tours, the cultural programme, and the last four days – an all-inclusive holiday in the resort of Albena on the Black Sea.”

Photos: private library

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