The Olga Lengyel Institute (TOLI) organizes seminars for Bulgarian teachers  in cooperation with the American University in Bulgaria. Our 2019 Bulgarian seminar took place July 7 – July 11th.

Entitled Learning from the Past – Acting for the Future: Teaching about the Holocaust and Social Justice, the seminars aim to enrich the quality of Holocaust and social justice education in Bulgaria. They provide a meaningful opportunity for participants to integrate national and international pedagogical approaches in the teaching of these challenging topics and in conveying the contemporary relevance of the Holocaust to their students.

Teachers from all over Bulgaria gathered in the city of Blagoevgrad on the campus of the American University in Bulgaria to participate in TOLI’s fifth annual seminar about the lessons of the Holocaust. The program, led by Director of European Programs Oana Nestian-Sandu, focuses on the impact of stereotypes and prejudice on the individual and within society; portrays Jewish life before and after the Holocaust; and promotes intercultural, student-centered teaching methods between schools and human rights organizations. The seminar included a visit to the Jewish community and synagogue in Sofia as well as interactive workshops on what it means to be upstanders and bystanders, reflecting Bulgaria’s complicated history during the Holocaust.

The inaugural seminar took place in Blagoevgrad from July 26-30, 2015. It brought together 45 high school and middle school teachers to hear from internationally renowned lecturers, interface with survivors, and think creatively and collaboratively about how to teach the Holocaust and the broad issue of social injustice in their schools. Participating educators exchanged ideas, approaches, and challenges with their colleagues, and had the opportunity to engage with new teaching methodologies to help their students approach the study of this difficult topic.

Following the success of the first seminar, TOLI continues to offer yearly seminars for groups of 35 high school and middle school teachers from across the country.

Program Objectives & Methodology

The methodology of the summer seminars in Bulgaria is learner-centered, a teaching model based on the principles of experiential learning and a human rights-based approach.

Objectives include:

  • Develop teacher awareness of historical and current dialectical discussions concerning the Holocaust and other instances of social injustice;
  • Develop teacher understanding of the impact stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination have on the individual, group, and societal levels;
  • Develop teacher understanding of Jewish life before and after the Holocaust;
  • Increase teacher appreciation for innovative, student-centered teaching methods, including extracurricular activities and partnerships between schools, and other institutions and organizations; and
  • Promote a blended approach to Holocaust education and Human Rights education.

Please note that while we encourage teachers from all countries to apply for our European seminars, TOLI will be unable to cover travel expenses for those living outside of the country in which the seminar is held. Please contact Oana Nestian-Sandu with questions at onestian@tolinstitute.org.

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Watch a video featuring highlights from TOLI’s seminar in Bulgaria.


For more information about The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI), please contact info@tolinstitute.org

TOLI is located at 58 East 79th Street in Manhattan. (get directions)