Dozens of ORT students are thinking about their future now that they have returned to their home countries after an action-packed fortnight at World ORT’s Digital Skills Academy in Bulgaria.
It may be too early yet to say how the experience will influence their lives but it’s certain that it will have an impact – just ask Varia-Maria Milanova. The alumna of the Lauder-ORT Jewish School in Sofia has taken part in several international World ORT programmes over the years – but the most significant was her participation in last year’s inaugural Digital Skills Academy (DSA).
“It changed my life. After learning all these new things at the Academy I decided against academic studies at university and instead, in September, I’ll start at the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts in Sofia,” Varia-Maria said.
It was her first hands-on experience of filming and it was a revelation. She was back this year as an assistant on the Digital Video Production course eager to open eyes to new possibilities.
“It’s been a privilege to come back and be part of it,” she said. “Last year I not only learned about video production, I also learned how to work in a team, to listen to others and appreciate their ideas – all of which help me to pass on my skills to this year’s students.”
In addition to the video course, this year’s selection of 28 teenagers from seven countries could also choose from Digital Audio Production or Advanced Digital Photography. They toured Bulgaria’s national television station and other media companies and tested their new skills in a series of field trips, including the ancient town of Kabile.
“A highlight for me was filming at Nu Boyana studios. It was my first time in a professional set and a lot of big movies were filmed there so it was very exciting,” said Tal Sofi Ofek, 17, a student at World ORT-affiliated Makif Alef High School in Be’er Sheva.
Tal studies video production for Bagrut but she was surprised by the high level of learning and practice on offer on the DSA’s Digital Video Production course.
“It’s much more than I could ever have expected. I didn’t know there would be so much equipment. And the teachers are really expert – it’s an honour to learn from them and my technique has improved. It’s also been fun to talk English all the time and be with people from six other countries,” she said. “It was an amazing experience that I didn’t want to end!”
Over on the Digital Audio Production course was another graduate of the Lauder-ORT school working as an assistant, musician Konstantin Zlatkov. After the summer, the 19-year-old will be studying at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute in Bristol, England – a direct result of his experience at last year’s World ORT International Technology Summer School in London.
“Before the Summer School I’d always thought about studying in Bulgaria. But I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do. But in London I learned a lot of new stuff about recording and using high level technology. And it was good to meet other musicians because they’re really open to each other and they influenced me in many ways. Afterwards I knew what was going to happen in my life,” Konstantin said.
If it wasn’t for World ORT I wouldn’t be studying music or going to Bristol. World ORT really helps to connect people and to realise their dreams.