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50 stories - Prof. Rumen Penin

10 August 2022 Events and Discussions

Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”

Faculty of Geology and Geography

Department of Landscape Ecology and Environment Protection


With the Bulgarians in Brisbane

My field of science is Geography. And if it weren't for it, I would hardly have come to Brisbane with the national student team I lead at the VI International Geography Olympiad (iGeo) in 2006. For many reasons, our team's participation in this prestigious competition almost failed. And then came the saving thought: there must be Bulgarians in this city who could help. With the kind assistance of our Ambassador to Australia - Mr. Lubomir Todorov, we contacted the small Bulgarian community in the city. Their reaction was friendly and Bulgarian: "Come, we will solve all the problems on the spot." And that meant accommodating the team at their homes for a week and taking care of them. That was really a weight off my shoulders.

At the airport, after a 30-hour exhausting flight, the smiling faces of Vasil Vassilev and Zhelyazko Ivanov warmed and calmed us. We immediately went to the homes of the hospitable Bulgarians Vanya and Branimir Simeonovi (from Kazanlak), Zhelyazko Ivanov and his children Blanche and Sly (from Varna), Margarita and Petyo Blanco (from Petrich and Stara Zagora), Kiril and Verka Ilievi (from Pancharevo and Macedonia), Yavor Konstantinov (from Sofia), who surrounded us with warmth and Bulgarian hospitality.

With their help, we were able to visit the Tamborine National Park, part of the Scenic Rim, in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, as well as the world-famous Gold Coast resort. Our next days were dedicated to the International Geography Olympiad. Teams from 23 countries took part. The organization of our Australian colleagues was impeccable and the constant care of the host of the event - Mrs. Kathryn Berg, was extremely friendly.

To our great joy, the student Vasko Stoitsev from the High School of Matematics "Geo Milev" in Pleven won a bronze medal. It was a great success, and of course, a great joy for our compatriots. In the evening after the award ceremony, over 20 people gathered in the home of Vanya and Branimir Simeonovi and celebrated our success on Australian soil, in the Bulgarian way - with songs, dances, but also with nostalgia. When I announced the success of our team, I played a CD with seven performances of the Bulgarian anthem, which began one after the other, and our tearful compatriots were standing for half an hour, listening to the versions of the anthem. I had brought icons as a gift and some soil in a wooden box from the Zograf Monastery in Mount Athos. Tears appeared in the eyes of the gathered Bulgarians.

This experience showed me that the Bulgarians in Brisbane cherish Bulgaria in their hearts with honor and dignity.

More photos

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