This year’s European Day of Languages for the first time brought together 10 foreign cultural and education institutions represented in Bulgaria who form the EUNIC cluster in Bulgaria.
Even the stormy skies and occasional showers did not intimidate language lovers who came out in Sofia on Sunday 26 September 2010. At any given time over the 5 hours’ event before the National Theatre, one of the most popular locations in central Sofia for family weekend strolls, there were at least 100 or so people alternating umbrellas with sunglasses but obviously enjoying themselves enormously with the programme on the stage, or visiting the various language stands to enquire about opportunities for studies.
The event was opened by Tony Buckby, Director of British Council Bulgaria, who is currently presiding the EUNIC cluster in Bulgaria, Petya Evtimova, Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Science, and Pailyana Novakova, Director or the “Hristo Botev” Programme of the Bulgarian National Radio which was the media partner of the initiative.
Over 2,000 people have been estimated to have visited the event throughout the day. 70 performers sang and acted on the stage. A group of 4-year-olds singing in German demonstrated that it is never too early to begin, and the privilege of hearing Chekhov in the original was the strongest testimony of how foreign languages open doors to cultural experiences. 50 people aged 11 to 69 volunteered to read a verse by Bulgarian poet Hristo Botev in 8 different languages, courageously spelling out in Hungarian, Czech and Russian, which many had never spoken before, and added to their more confident usage of English, French, German, Spanish and Italian.
This buzz caught journalists’ eyes too and despite the rain the event got massive media coverage. Three national broadcasters and three other major nationwide cable stations (Bulgarian National TV, bTV, Pro.BG, TV7, Evropa TV and TV+) had crews on the ground filming and interviewing participants and visitors. All stations broadcasted their items on their central news bulletins, some also doubled that by streaming online and/or additional news broadcast (mid-day and late news). Word spread even further through radio (Darik News, Bulgarian National Radio) and the internet.
Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Science, Petya Evtimova, stayed for a good 3 hours and personally handed the special prize the Ministry had prepared to the youngest participant in the reciting competition. This EUNIC event is part of the Language Rich Europe project.