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Vasil Levski Revisited

Vasil Levski School in Zaragoza - fostering the memory of Bulgaria and its heroes ‎for 14 years

Lilia Dimitrova: To be respected in Spain, we must know our history and ‎legacy, proudly declaring that we are Bulgarians‎

Photo: Bulgarian Sunday School "Vasil Levski", Zaragoza

The image and the work of Bulgaria’s Apostle of Freedom Vasil Levski arise in ‎the mind of every Bulgarian when they need to name a Bulgarian hero. And ‎although historians argue about certain moments of Levski’s life, he does occupy ‎a central place in the heart of Bulgarians. Proof of this is the multitude of ‎monuments scattered from Serbian Tsaribrod to distant Argentina, the names of ‎various institutions, including countless schools in the country, as well as dozens ‎abroad.‎

‎"For children, this is the hero with the brightest ideas”, says Lilia Dimitrova, ‎director of Vasil Levski Bulgarian Sunday School in Zaragoza, Spain. “He was ‎the first to come up with the idea that Bulgaria will not be freed without the ‎preparation of organizations in every town and village. For our students, it is ‎very interesting from the point of view of the modern world, how the Apostle ‎travels from place to place, risking his life, keeping his ideals pure and giving ‎everything for freedom. They know all his covenants and are proud that their ‎school bears the name of the purest and brightest hero in Bulgarian history."‎

Lilia Dimitrova, head of the school
Before the pandemic, the Bulgarian community in the second largest Spanish city ‎of Zaragoza numbered 800 people, and in the region of Aragon there were about ‎‎5,000. Bulgarians there are mainly engaged in agriculture and manufacturing, as ‎many factories have been built in the area. ‎

The number of students attending the Vasil Levski Sunday School is different - ‎between 28 and 37. "Some children born in mixed marriages, in which they do ‎not have the opportunity to practice the Bulgarian language, refuse to attend ‎classes. Others are persistent and continue, despite the inconveniences that ‎travelling every Sunday creates for them," Lilia Dimitrova tells us.‎

"The biggest heroes are the parents, I always say that! In Spain, the distances are very long. ‎I can give an example of a family that has been traveling 80 kilometers every week for 8 ‎years so that their child can attend our school”, says the director. “At that, on the only free ‎day they have. Over the years, a second generation of children has already grown up in ‎Spain, who, although they live here, feel Bulgarian because their roots are Bulgarian. In ‎order to be respected, we must respect and know our history and lineage, proudly declaring ‎that we are Bulgarians."‎

Lessons on patriotism are an important part of working with children at the Vasil Levski ‎school in Zaragoza. The Bulgarian girls enthusiastically participated in Radio Bulgaria's ‎initiative "Levski Revisited" on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the ‎Apostle, by sending us a video and photos from the lesson on immortality, in which students ‎from all classes of the school participated. ‎‎"We are proud to bear his name and try to follow ‎his covenants!", they wrote to us.‎

‎"Our school participates in many initiatives organized by schools and institutions ‎in Bulgaria! In the preparation and organization of the anniversary of Levski's ‎death, the students from the University of Veliko Tarnovo, who are on an ‎internship here, also took part," Mrs. Lilia Dimitrova told Radio Bulgaria.‎

Established in 2009, at the beginning the school worked entirely on a voluntary ‎basis in premises provided by the municipal council of Zaragoza. Since 2014, it ‎has been operating under the "Native Language and Culture Abroad" ‎programme of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science. The funds they ‎receive from there allow them to be one of the few Sunday schools that do not ‎charge fees for the children's education. ‎

As a reward for their care and dedication, the teachers there receive incredible ‎respect, gratitude and love from the Bulgarian children and families. This is the ‎reward for the time, knowledge and emotions dedicated for already 14 years for ‎the benefit of the family - to keep alive the spark of love for Bulgaria in the ‎children, some of whom were born in distant Spain.‎

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Photos: courtesy of the Bulgarian Sunday School Vasil Levski in Zaragoza, Spain

English translation and publication by Rositsa Petkova

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