One of the most eye-opening experiences in my life has been my participation in the first edition of the FameLab science communication competition for young scientists at the time when I was a PhD student at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The competition was organized by British Council Bulgaria and has been running annually since it was first held in 2007.
I can safely say that my participation in FameLab was a life-changing experience for me. After the first stage of the competition I was selected as one of the ten best communicators of science in Bulgaria. Apart from gaining valuable experience from my participation in the competition, I also took part in the training of the finalists in the competition. During the training sessions, we acquired a lot of useful knowledge and skills from renowned British scientists and journalists as well as famous Bulgarian actors. They inspired us to see the world from a new perspective and showed us how science could be communicated accessibly and attractively to a non-scientific audience. This is especially valuable as it is an ever-growing priority for researchers worldwide.
A few years after the competition, I became a full-time lecturer in Marketing and over the years I have taught at several Bulgarian universities. I am currently a lecturer at Varna University of Management and my work is related to teaching and working with a lot of international students who come to our university as Erasmus+ students. This learning experience that I have had beyond the boundaries of the traditional classroom helped me develop an unconventional approach to teaching that students at the university find engaging and relatable. My lectures and workshops at the university are aimed not only at transferring knowledge, but also at inspiring students to unlock their own creativity and talents within an interactive environment.
Having myself benefited from the first-hand experience and knowledge of other professionals has motivated me to pass on the spark not only to my university students, but also to high school students and the general public as a whole. As part of this mission, I have given public talks aiming to inspire people and expand their perspective about science and life in the same way as this competition did for me. Such creativity-provoking in-class and out-of-class experiences prove that learning through experience is the most effective and stable way of passing and acquiring a piece of knowledge or a skill. When people understand, experience and do something by themselves, they find their own way of thinking and their own algorithm for solving both personal and professional problems.
I believe that it is my calling to continue to develop in the direction that this competition has set for me. I find every opportunity for enriching my experience extremely beneficial. Every useful knowledge and skill that a teacher has is multiplied by the number of his or her students. This gives birth to new ideas that make the world a better place and gives rise to a new generation of leaders. I believe that our task as facilitators is to help students discover, develop and express their potential and talent. The application of creative thinking into university education is a key factor in the development of the university as a modern and innovative institution for discovering and building future leaders and visionaries in all areas of knowledge and life. We, the teachers, bear the great responsibility for making this happen.