Immersion Academy - Academies for full immersion
What should learning be to be happy instead of boring? To be not an obligation but a pleasure? So that it doesn't stop ringing the bell, but makes you want more and more?
Our immersion programs empower our participants to use the foreign language freely and to develop a critical sense of the reality in which we exist and how we can influence it.
Our approach to learning is inspired by the Brazilian educator, philosopher, and humanist Paulo Freire, who describes traditional education as mechanistic and depressing. Instead of giving people the freedom to express their ideas and develop their thinking, the usual school and university education require them to reproduce like parrots certain ideas, facts, and ways of thinking. Most educational institutions teach people not how to think, but what to think.
According to Freire, everyone, whether educated or not, has unlimited potential to reflect on the state of the world and fight for change to develop critical thinking.
According to Freire, education that liberates the mind and spirit inevitably leads to the acquisition of experience and desire to act and opposes passivity and obedience (Freire 1985). His pedagogy rejects the teacher-student hierarchy. When education is inspired by the experiences of those who participate in it and creates the conditions for authentic dialogue, everyone is both a student and a teacher.
Our programs are based on dialogue, freedom, and the active participation of students. Dialogue is our main tool for collective reflection, cooperation, and action. We believe that conversations and discussions are the most direct path to the inner worlds of others and the reconsideration of our place in the world. That is why we aim to create spaces that bring together people from different countries, religions, sexualities, and other characteristics. To stimulate the natural desire to learn, the critical approach, creativity, and questioning of everything that is presented to us as a "fact".
A generation of young people who use foreign languages to access information and to communicate with people outside their countries. They are motivated to learn throughout their lives, reflect on their position in the world, and contribute to positive change through individual and collective action.
To support the development of creativity, criticism, and cosmopolitanism of young people and to contribute to the strengthening of solidarity approaches to problem-solving and the development of individuals and communities.
- Developing English communication skills: we create a learning environment in which participants can significantly improve their skills by immersing themselves in and being surrounded by language 24/7.
- Improving critical thinking skills: we support the development of critical thinking skills by training our participants to question their thinking, take into account different points of view, critically evaluate the information they receive, and create effective arguments.
- Preparation for action: we support our participants in their process of self-empowerment and promote the idea of active citizenship and contribution to social change through various forms of leadership.
The first edition of Immersion Language & Leadership Academy was held in July 2017. in a resort village near the Rila Lakes. Twenty-four young people aged 14-25 participated in our 18-day youth program, and two groups of 9 adults participated in programs lasting 7 and 10 days.
Seventy percent of participants received full or partial scholarships to participate in the programs. The academy brought together a diverse group of participants representing more than 25 localities, several ethnic groups, and different languages , and religions. The program also included a boy with reduced mobility, three Syrian refugees, and an intersex activist.
The design of the curriculum aimed to challenge participants inside and outside the classroom daily. Each day began with four hours of training sessions led by experienced facilitators, who provided a safe space for participants to step out of their comfort zone and break their thinking through thematic discussions and activities. While the training focused on improving critical thinking skills, each afternoon’s self-led skills-sharing workshop contributed to the active exchange of skills and experience and helped participants work on their leadership skills. The intensive daily program, in which participants used English 24/7 and had access to individual consultations with American facilitators, supported the development of various aspects of foreign language proficiency and contributed to the overall process of personal development. At the end of each program, participants presented their ideas for projects related to public issues of interest.
Our programs in 2017 were funded by Davis Peace Projects, the Middlebury College Career, and Internship Center, and individual donations from the United States and Bulgaria.
We need your support to continue to offer Immersion Academy to talented young people from all over Bulgaria.