AUBG MultiTalent Quest: What is to follow?
The very new initiative of AUBG alumni, faculty, students, and administration, AUBG MultiTalent Quest, has reached its final stage. A total of 64 high school students from all around Bulgaria are coming to campus to mingle with the AUBG community and to make the first step to a big change.
The AUBG MultiTalent Quest is a two-round, multidisciplinary event aimed at 11th grade high-school students from Bulgaria.
The first round of the quest, conducted online from Jan. 10 to Feb. 5, consisted of an online application form, in which students briefly presented their favorite subjects and extracurricular activities, a two-minute creative video CV, and an intermediate English–level test transferred to the online platform by the English Language Institute (ELI). On Feb. 22 the results from the first round were estimated and the names of the finalists were announced. From the 108 students who successfully completed the application form, 64 distinguished students have been invited to campus to take part in the final round of the quest.
The finalists will compete on campus on March 17-19 in four different disciplines which will test not only their individual skills and talents but also their teamwork. The disciplines will include a written Math test called the ‘CharisMATHic Analysis’, parallel ‘Debate, don’t hate’ in English about preliminary given topics, the Social Challenge Hack in which the participants will have to introduce a solution to a social issue in a five-minute presentation. Finally, the students will have the chance to present their athletic or artistic talents in one of the two selective disciplines ARTS on the spot and In the SPORTlight.
Deyan Vassilev, graduate of the first class at AUBG in 1995 and a longtime partner of the AUBG Alumni Association, is the one who came up with the initial idea of the quest.
“In March 2016 Dimitar Christozov,professor at the department of Computer Science and Information Technology at AUBG, came to my office unannounced and told me that AUBG is facing some challenges and needs help,” Vassilev shared. “So, we started thinking of creative ways in which we could raise the awareness about AUBG among the Bulgarian high-school students. That is when the idea of the quest was born and I believe we’re heading in the right direction.”
Vassilev contacted the president of the AUBG Alumni Association, Vladimir Rusev, who greeted the idea with enthusiasm. Thereon, they built a team of four people among which were Professor Sabina A. Wien, adjunct instructor at the department of Arts, Languages and Literature at AUBG, and Asya Velichkova, a first-year student majoring in Computer Science and Information Technology.
The team currently consists of around 15 alumni, faculty and students. For the last several months they have spent many hours debating ideas, searching for sponsors, communicating with the participants, and assembling every component of the competition.
Apart from them, dozens of people and institutions have contributed to the organization of the event. The MultiTalent Quest is supported by the Ministry of Education which sent out letters to all high-schools in Bulgaria in order to spread the word about the competition.
“Once you leave AUBG, you realize you cannot live without it anymore,” shared Tsvetelina Miteva, an AUBG graduate of 2016 and current coordinator of the event. “Everything that is related to AUBG touches your heart. I decided to dedicate my time because I want the university that gave me so much to continue growing and to have good reputation. “
Above all other objectives of the quest stands the idea of helping the university step off the current financial difficulty.
“No matter how many buildings we have, no matter what the policy is like, AUBG is definitely you and me, and if we don’t do anything about it, the institution will die,” Professor Wien commented on the inducement to be a part of the organizing team. “We might be in a crisis, this is not only gossip but a subjective feeling. But when in a crisis, complaining doesn’t help. All that helps is trying to figure out new creative ways of dealing with things.”
Vassilev sees the insufficient number of students enrolled at AUBG as a problem mainly caused by the cold-calling way in which students are attracted to the university.
“AUBG needed something innovative that would generate positive buzz and word-of-mouth for AUBG among the Bulgarian high-school students,” said Vassilev.
And it turns out that the format of the quest is truly innovative for Bulgaria.
“We did several surveys to find out that there is no other competition held in Bulgaria to test academic, social, artistic, and athletic skills of students all at once,” shared Professor Wien.
Contrary to students’ expectations, AUBG is not sponsoring the quest. The university is providing the facilities and supporting the organizing team through the Admissions, Marketing and PR offices and the faculty. The Marketing and PR lead, Albena Kehayova, disclosed that the university’s current priority is the incoming class of Fall 2017.
“The university supports this initiative anyhow possible,” commented Kehayova. “Financially the ex-president, Stratsi Kulinski, as well as each one of us has contributed with donations.”
The organizing team and specifically the alumni from the AUBG Alumni Association have managed to raise almost $10,000 to cover the expenses. A lot of organizations, as well as alumni from abroad have supported the initiative by pledging amounts of money for the competition. The team is still running an online platform for donations which will cover the awards for the Quest winners.
“I personally am satisfied with the support we receive from the AUBG community and the institution itself,” stated Asya Velichkova. “For now we don’t receive any financial support from inside the university but we hope that as the first competition is done, many things will change.”
Among the 108 participants there are people from 36 different cities around Bulgaria such as Sofia, Plovdiv, Burgas, Russe, Karlovo, Lom, Knezha, Kardzhali, and even Polski Trambesh.
“I was amazed by the strong will behind most of the applications,” stated Professor Wien. “The variety of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities they do is so wide, that I had to research some of them. I simply hope we will be able to retain those talented people in Bulgaria.”
The organizers of the quest expect the recruitment numbers at AUBG to boost in 2018 and, thus, are planning to open the same format internationally in the future, including the top 11th graders from neighboring countries.