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A Bulgarian school and radio programme unite the Bulgarian community in Linz and the region

Photo: Bulgarian School "Orpheus"

The number of Bulgarian Sunday schools in Austria is currently 5, located in Vienna, Linz, Graz, as some of them also have branches in the cities of Klagenfurt, Wels and Krems, according to the data of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science. In the following lines, we will tell you about one of these centres of Bulgarian culture, which bears the name "Orpheus", created on the initiative of the Bulgarian-Austrian Parents' Association of the same name. It is located in the city of Linz and has been operating since 2005, and since the 2009-2010 academic year it has been officially registered as the first Bulgarian school in the province of Upper Austria, whose administrative center is Linz.

"An important role in supporting our school was played by the Bulgarian state after the foundation of the Association of Bulgarian Schools Abroad in 2007, as well as Prof. Bozhidar Dimitrov while he was the head of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad - Bulgarian schools abroad were  of key priority for him and his team”, says Assoc. Ph.D. Dimitar Dunkov, one of the first teachers at "Orpheus" school, and currently host of a Bulgarian radio programme in Linz. 

“Over the past 15 years, hundreds of children have passed through our school. At the moment, there are about 30 of them in Linz, but since its creation, we have trained at least 300 children, and a dozen teachers have engaged in training them in Bulgarian language, history, music, and fine arts."

Dimitar Dunkov
According to him, the parents have not been forgotten either as "they attend lessons in folk dances and the Bulgarian language for adults, as well as in Bulgarian cuisine". For three years now, the school has also had its own branch in the city of Krems, which is located about 1 hour from Linz.

Dunkov believes that the transformation of students into a cohesive community depends almost entirely on their parents and families:

"If the family has the appropriate incentive and emotion to bring their children, they start coming. They want to see their friends, after all, this is their social experience and is one of the roles of Bulgarian schools abroad“,  explains our compatriot from Austria. "Some of the children bring their friends who are not from Bulgarian families and do not understand the language."

Students gain another important type of experience in the online radio programme which was established in 2003 in Salzburg, but since 2004 moved to Linz. Its presenter Dimitar Dunkov allows them to participate in the broadcasts and thus learn new things about Bulgaria. 

Curiously enough,  the programme, which is part of "Free Radio" of Upper Austria, broadcasting in 24 languages, bears the name "Radio Bulgaria", just like the multilingual platform of the Bulgarian National Radio, which is proud of its tradition that has passed 8 decades.

"Radio Bulgaria was one of the first two Bulgarian media abroad, founded by an emigrant. There was another one created at the same time in Bern. The first nearly 150 broadcasts were mostly in German, because Bulgaria was still not well known in Austria at that time," recalls Dimitar Dunkov and adds details about the topics and sections in one of his broadcasts:

"I had decided to invite an Austrian and host the programme together. I thought that in this way at least one new person would learn something about Bulgaria. People of various professions and ages participated, both from Linz and from other cities in Upper Austria. Our radio show covers various topics divided into several sections. One of them is called "Centuries of Glory". In it, we track important dates and personalities from Bulgarian history during the given month. The goal is not just to recall these dates, but also to protect them from incorrect interpretations. Another topic of ours is called "Every Song is a Story - Every Story, a Song". In it we present the wealth of Bulgarian folklore. A permanent section for us is also the one about the relations between Bulgaria and Austria, called "With Bagpipes and Yodel". In this way, we connected two regions in the two countries - the Rhodopes and the Alps," explains Dimitar Dunkov, this time in an interview for Radio Bulgaria, the international service of the Bulgarian National Radio.

Photos: Bulgarian School "Orpheus" in Linz, Austria

Translated and published by Rositsa Petkova

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