Hannah Combe grew up in the quiet suburbs of Ohio and has been trying to avoid them ever since. She has a degree in English Literature from Oberlin College and worked as a librarian in her home town for a year. She joined the Peace Corps and taught English in the small village of Kvishketi, Georgia from 2014 to 2016. She came to Bulgaria on a scholarship granted by the Bulgarian American Commision for Educational Exchange “Fulbright” and the America for Bulgaria Foundation. Hannah taught English at the foreign language high school in Pravets during the 2016/2017 school year and in September of 2017 she became an English teaching assistant at 119 Secondary School in Sofia. Inspired by her students in Pravets, Hannah started a debates team and worked hard to prepare them for the national public speaking and debates competition organized by the BEST Foundation where she soon started working as an assistant director.
In October Hannah visited two Teach For Bulgaria participants in Pirdop and Zlatitsa, participated in their English classes and tried to find ways in which the three schools could collaborate. The visit was much appreciated by the Teach For Bulgaria participants because they try to expose their students to as many role models with diverse backgrounds as possible.
We are publishing Hannah’s impressions from her two school visits.
On Monday, Oct 23, I had the pleasure to catch a 7 a.m. train from Central Railway Station in Sofia and travel to the picturesque Pirdop and Zlatitsa where the trees had changed color. I went there to meet with Gabriela Yordanova and Denitsa Kombishkova, second-year English teachers and Teach For Bulgaria participants. Why did I go? Gabby, Deni and I would like to collaborate in the classroom. We would like to teach cross cultural understanding, play various educational games in English, and connect our classrooms in Pirdop, Zlatitsa, and Sofia. We would like to see whether fostering a relationship between students from the capital city and the small towns would help them improve their English or cause conflict. I hope I can get the BEST Foundation student ambassadors involved in this partnership and in other future community projects.
When I visited Gabby and Deni’s classes we focused on asking questions – how to ask grammatically correct questions in order to get to know this new and mysterious American visitor in the classroom. We played games with the younger students to find out more about each other and the things we liked. The eighth-graders and I compared our home towns and practiced the phrases “there is” and “there are”. We also enjoyed a magnificent clarinet rendition of When the Saint Go Marching In. And we had so much fun! The students were very curious and full of energy which made me feel cosy and comfortable to work with Gabby and Deni.
My visit was the beginning of our partnership and I can’t wait to go back to Pirdop and Zlatitsa!