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Vasil Levski Revisited

Vasil Levski is the patron of the oldest Bulgarian school in Paris

"Patriotic education abroad begins with the first letter, with the first song and verse that the child learns about Bulgaria"

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Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Levski's death
Photo: Vasil Levski Bulgarian school in Paris

The Vasil Levski Sunday School in Paris was founded in 2006 and is the oldest of the 5 Bulgarian schools in the French capital. The moment children first cross its threshold, they learn who the Bulgarian Apostle of Freedom is, because his portrait occupies a place of honour at all festive ceremonies in the school. And every year, even though the date February 19 coincides with the winter vacation of French schools, students lay flowers in front of the bas-relief of their patron on the façade of the Bulgarian Embassy in Paris, reciting poems learned in Bulgarian literature classes. 

Flowers in front of the bas-relief of the Apostle on the facade of the Bulgarian Embassy in Paris
And why they chose the personality of Vasil Levski as the patron of the school, we learn from Kalina Salomon, honorary president of the "Association Bulgarian School in Paris":

"You know that Vasil Levski is the brightest person in Bulgarian history, but he also has a European identity - something that most Bulgarian heroes do not have - this is everything that is connected with brotherhood, equality, freedom, etc. In addition, Levski often mentions France in his letters and is inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution. And I can say that the children are thirsty for information, they react very sincerely and with admiration to everything they learn about Bulgaria. Creating a bond with Bulgaria also goes through the various workshops and ateliers where they get a first-hand experience of Bulgarian culture through dances, songs, holidays, customs - survakane, Christmas, egg painting, martenitsi, etc.," explains Kalina Salomon.

Practical atelier for making a lapbook about Levski
Special attention is paid to the patron of the school. For 2nd and 3rd grade students, the reading lesson about the Apostle of Freedom ends with a virtual walk in the Vasil Levski Museum in Karlovo. And in the framework of a practical workshop after the classes, the children make an interactive folder about the life and work of their patron, we learn from Biserka Ivanova - a teacher of 2nd and 3rd graders in the Bulgarian school.

"Most of the children were born abroad, but they have a connection with Bulgaria because they often spend their vacations there. And it is very interesting that, depending on which part of Bulgaria they are from, they know the history of their birthplace, or that of their parents and proudly tell what they learned during the vacations. In this sense, they are connected to Bulgaria and Bulgarian history. It happens that the children predetermine the topics we will talk about in class. And when I feel that they have knowledge and interest in a certain subject, the lesson turns in another direction", Biserka Ivanova told Radio Bulgaria.

On the Day of Bulgarian Enlightenment Leaders

Between 70-90 children attend the lessons and the various workshops of the Vasil Levski school in Paris, in person or remotely.

"With younger children we rely more on games, songs, dramatizations because these classes take place on the weekend and we are aware that we need to break the strict didactic framework so as not to overload them. Every age has a certain tolerance for receiving information," explains Biserka Ivanova and adds that the children are highly motivated regarding their Bulgarian studies:

"This starts from the family, from the relationship they have with Bulgaria, and this is the first motive - to be able to fully communicate in Bulgarian when they are on vacation, to be able to understand what they see, to talk about what they experienced. Patriotic education abroad - it starts with the first letter, with the first song and poem that the child learns about Bulgaria. Because if there is no language - the connection is lost," Biserka Ivanova concludes.
4th and 4th grade students
We would like to thank the Vasil Levski Bulgarian school in Paris for the willingness to participate in the initiative of Radio Bulgaria "Vasil Levski Revisited" on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the Apostle, sending us photos and videos of the lessons on Bulgaria that they conduct with the students - see also the gallery below the text.

The publication was carried out under a project implemented with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, within the framework of the National Program to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of Vasil Levski.

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Photos: Vasil Levski Bulgarian School in Paris


Translated and published by Rositsa Petkova
Listen to the daily news from Bulgaria presented in "Bulgaria Today" podcast, available in Spotify.

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