World ORT’s first Digital Skills Academy took place in Bulgaria during summer 2015.
The academy has been receiving rave reviews from its 28 participating students, raising the prospect of similar events in the years ahead.
Since the Academy opened at the Lauder-ORT “Dimcho Debelyanov” Jewish School in Sofia last week, students from Israel and 10 European countries have been learning either digital video production or digital photography with desktop publishing.
“Our expert team from ORT Bulgaria has put together a programme that will give them all a summer that they will remember for the rest of their lives,” said the Head of World ORT’s Education Department, Daniel Tysman. “I have no doubt that each of them will improve not only their digital skills, but also their ability to work in teams, take on responsibilities and see a project through from start to finish.”
It is all about learning skills, sharing and being creative.
The students, who were selected for both their aptitude and their desire to develop their skills, have been stretched by the intensive programme: each study track has a series of workshops with professionals from various disciplines but there have also been trips to media companies and studios, and a variety of inspirational sessions and exciting group activities.
“I didn’t realise that such a high standard was expected; the teachers go through so much material, but I am pleased because this pushes me to do well.” said Aday Perez Gidron, a student at the Ibn Gabirol School in Madrid.
“I previously had a very basic knowledge of digital video and photography but this programme is helping to build the foundations of my knowledge and I have very quickly learned new skills such as how audio is used in videos, how to use camera accessories and I now have a hunger to learn more. And the madrichim have opened my mind to new ways of thinking and interacting with the world around me. It is a marvellous camp!”
Evgeny Rozanov, a student at the ORT Moscow Technology School with ambitions to enter film school, added: “I am putting into practice a lot of the skills I have learnt at school. But at school we’re in a classroom and don’t have as much freedom to work in teams and move around being creative. This Academy will help me with organising extra lessons in video production for students from 8th grade and above. I’ve learnt many new techniques and camera tricks which I intend to incorporate in these extra lessons at my school.”
Experiencing the beauty of Bulgaria, discovering cultures.
The two-week summer school also features several tours, including the Etara Complex, an open-air museum showcasing Bulgarian customs, culture and craftsmanship, the world-famous Nu Boyana Film Studios, and the historic town of Arbanasi. In addition to experiencing the beauty of Bulgaria, it is an opportunity for the teenagers to learn about each other’s countries and cultures. “By the end of the Academy the students will have made good friends with whom they’ll stay in touch. But we also hope that they’ll share what they’ve learned with their schools and friends when they return home,” said the Director of the Lauder-ORT Technology Centre in Sofia, Plamen Petrov, who is co-ordinating the Academy.
And award for Plamen Petrov, Director of Lauder ORT Technology Centre (Sofia-Bulgaria).
Mr Petrov’s pivotal role in realising the Academy is just one of the reasons why he is this year’s recipient of the World ORT’s Award for Outstanding Senior Professionals from ORT’s global network. The award was established by World ORT’s former Director General and CEO Robert Singer, who left the organization after 14 years to become CEO and Executive Vice President of the World Jewish Congress. Praising Mr Petrov, ORT Bulgaria President Dr Emil Kalo commented:
“This award is very well deserved; Plamen is an example for the whole ORT system because he is highly educated, he makes the children feel good, he is very creative and very professional – as his organisation of the Digital Skills Academy shows. I wish all ORT schools in the world would have someone like Plamen!”
Mr Petrov has been instrumental in the remarkable progress made by the Lauder-ORT “Dimcho Debelyanov” Jewish School over the past 10 years, in which time his role has developed from teacher and technical assistant to National Director of ORT Bulgaria. He has also been the driving force behind many collaborative projects that have taken place involving the Sofia school and ORT schools in the Former Soviet Union, Israel, Mexico and other countries.