Nguyen Le and the Language of Success
Or how a Vietnamese financier convinced the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to invest in Bulgarian language teaching
“Growing up with Vietnamese parents, Bulgarian has never been a native language to me and my personal experience has convinced me that learning Bulgarian has been key for my development ever since I was a child,” says Nguyen Le, a successful financier currently working at one of the largest international banks in London.
Nguyen has initiated a fundraising campaign in support of Teach For Bulgaria and EducArt’s project for the development of educational resources and methodology for teaching Bulgarian as a second language to primary school students whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian.
Nguyen’s parents met after they moved to Bulgaria in the 80s in order to study at Sofia University. Nguyen was born and raised in Sofia, he studied at 11 Primary School “St. Pimen Zografski” and at the American College of Sofia.
“Learning Bulgarian was crucial not only for school, but also for making friends, playing sports, and feeling like I fit in despite my foreign name and how different I looked compared to the rest of the children,” Nguyen shares.
Years after his school days in Bulgaria and higher education studies abroad are over, Nguyen is a successful financier who has worked in the USA, Germany, and the UK. Now he is going back to his roots – Bulgarian as a second language and the everyday challenges of going to school – in order to support children’s access to quality education, especially those who do not understand the language at school.
Nguyen’s personal and professional experience has clearly shown that students who do not grow up speaking Bulgarian at home need extra help – not just for their own benefit, but for the long-term development of the country as well.
“Unfortunately, the education system now – and back then – lacks resources and support mechanisms for teachers who teach Bulgarian to children whose mother tongue is different (unlike the education systems in Germany or the UK, for example). This makes it even harder for such students to succeed. And, as you might guess, this challenge often leads to bigger problems in the long run such as almost no integration into the labor market, social exclusion, and poverty.”
“I have decided to support this particular project because I find it ambitious, long-term, and extremely crucial. Developing tools for teaching Bulgarian to students who do not grow up speaking it at home is undoubtedly going to help solve the problem of weak minority integration in Bulgaria, but it is also going to present these children with a wider access to development opportunities in the future.”
Nguyen has followed Teach For Bulgaria’s organizational development and social impact throughout the years, basically since the organization was founded. His conviction that Teach For Bulgaria contributes to positive social change in Bulgaria drives him not only to support this project, but also to involve as many people as possible, so that his fundraising campaign could have a greater impact.
Nguyen’s Bulgarian colleagues at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have also embraced this project. Nguyen and his colleagues applied for this year’s inter-corporate EBRD Community Initiative and have been approved after a rigorous selection process. This means that EBRD (via its Community Initiative) has agreed to match all donations from private donors for this fundraiser by the end of the year and thus support all Bulgarian students and their access to quality education.
“I’m grateful that the Bulgarian community at EBRD has supported me and that the whole bank is going to support this project as well. We are going to join forces and convince more people to make donations. I would like to cordially express my gratitude to my colleagues Nikolay Angelov, Ognyan Zhelyazkov, Victor Kazakov, Svet Klimentov, Galena Koleva, Nikola Milushev, Valeri Mitev, Toma Pavlov, Svetlin Pislenski, Rada Tomova, Anna Thompson, Veselina Haralampieva, and Ruslan Shopov who decided to participate in this campaign. I would also like to thank Teach For Bulgaria, Anjela Deyanska and Niya Yanakieva for all the help and organization.”
If you also want to support Nguyen and help more children understand the language of their schools, make a donation here.
Learn more about the project and the development of educational resources and methodology for teaching Bulgarian to children who are not native speakers of the language here.
Yavor Atanasov, one of our other supporters based in London, is also going to help raise funds for this project whose execution is going to start in September of 2019. Yavor is going to challenge himself for a cause for a second time – this year with a fundraising bike ride around Iceland. His first challenge was back in 2017 when he supported Teach For Bulgaria with a fundraising solo bike ride from London to Barcelona – you can find more information about it here.
If you have any other ideas to support this project or Teach For Bulgaria, do not hesitate to get in touch with our Development team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the next few months we’ll be sharing more about our partners at EducArt who are experts at developing and applying contemporary teaching methods, especially Bulgarian language training of children who are not native speakers of Bulgarian. We are also going to give you more information about how Teach For Bulgaria teachers work with bilingual students in order to make school more accessible and useful for them.