CyberFair Project ID: 4689

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Bosporus and Dardanelles - Doors to Seething Conflicts and Multicultural Influence
Category: 6. Historical Landmarks

School: First Language School
    Varna, Varna, Bulgaria

4 students, ages 17-18 years worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 16, 2006. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): n/a

Classes and Teachers: Lina Nikolova(coach), Vanya Diamandieva(coach), Hristos, Orlin,Dimitar, George

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site: http://

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Team

1) Lina – History teacher and coach of the team; she is interested in History and international relations; 2) Vanya – teacher of English and English Literature; coach of the team; she is interested in literature and philosophy; 3) Hristos – interested in Literature, psychology and politics; helped with information on Byzantium and cultural correlation; 4) Orlin - interested in Literature, computer science, linguistics; helped with information on Byzantium and Ottoman culture; 5) Dimitar – interested in History and music; helped with information on Roman Empire and the Eastern Question 6) Georgi – interested in computer science; helped with the design of the site

2. Summary of Our Project

Due to their geographic location, some places have played a crucial role in the history of human civilization. They are often called strategic points and have become “melting pots” of diverse cultures. This site focuses on two well-known straits – Bosporus and Dardanelles, their favorable situation, tremendous economic significance, contradictory historical development and variegated cultural mixture throughout the centuries. The team’s aim was to reveal the peaceful conclusion of this development – a result of international conventions that had served as a paragon of building multiethnic society which is led by the laws of cultural tolerance and peaceful co-existence. We decide to put an emphasis mainly on Constantinople and its heir, i.e modern-day Istanbul because of the marvellous example this city provides in the field of multicultural cohesion.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:none

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:4-6

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

Although there are no workstations in the classrooms, we have specialized computer labs, since IT courses are mandatory for graduation

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

Our biggest problem was that we started working on the project later and the deadline was fast approaching when we gathered for our first meeting. To deal with this, we decided that it would be best if we stayed up late – otherwise, it would have been impossible to create a site of substantial quality in the set period. Another obstacle was the fact that, even though we study at the same school, we do not belong to the same class, which meant that meeting in person was extremely difficult due to busy schedules. However, we started staying after school every day and we used modern technology to discuss the problems we had (i.e. ICQ, Skype, AIM, etc.) Moreover, all of us had to divide time between this project and our school duties. Fortunately, the teachers were kind enough to allow us to arrange later examination dates, which meant that we could concrete on the task ahead of us. Nevertheless, working on the Doors to Diplomacy project coincided with some other community projects we were involved in, as well as our university/college admission examinations. We had to work under pressure, but we believe that this had a positive impact on the quality of our work and our time-management skills improved greatly.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

By participating in this major international competition, I believe my students learnt to be much more responsible - they had a chance to improve their teamwork and time-management skills. As far as our educational institution is concerned, it was a great opportunity to increase the prestige of our school by taking part in the Doors to Diplomacy project.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

Although our national curriculum doesn’t clearly state any specific guidelines, we decided to participate in this project (as well as in many others) driven by our competitiveness and desire for self-expression. Moreover, active participation in various extracurricular activities is well-regarded by foreign and Bulgarian universities. During the preparation for this project we managed to acquire a lot of important skills and to develop those we already had. Since we had a very limited amount of time, the first we improved were our time-management skills by learning to distribute our time between projects and other community duties. Next, we had to work on our comprehension skills – processing a lot lf texts for a short time and extracting specific information has helped us acquire better understanding skills. Thanks to our frequent meetings and thorough discussions we also improved our discussion and teamwork skills. We also had to practice sharing responsibility because we were all working on different parts of the site. Furthermore, working on a project like this has taught us a lot about sharing a common goal and striving to achieve it together, as a team – we knew from the beginning that the only way we could achieve something was to work together in a very devoted and dedicated manner. All the efforts wee have out into the creation of this website have helped us to better understand our educational system as well. We discovered that the Bulgarian educational system is generally supportive and encouraging towards students willing to participate in major international projects, such as Doors to Diplomacy. It is our believe that such important projects, clearly pointing out the importance and the advantages of using Internet resources, are officially introduced into the national curriculum

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

1) 5 computers 2) 6 cellular telephones, as well as our home phones 3) one scanner, used it with materials we got from the city library and museums 4) tape recorders, to record our meetings and the interviews we conducted 5) Adobe Photoshop CS, for image editing, Open Office for word-processing, MS Office, for the same purpose, Opera Internet Browser, Internet Explorer, Trillian, ICQ, Skype, AOL Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Windows XP SP 2, Macromedia Flash MX 6) The school library at the First Language School Varna, the City Library 7) Online editions of Enyclopaedia Britannica 1911, New Scientist Magazine (SEE BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR MORE) 8) Varna Archeological Museum, Varna Ethnographic Museum, Varna City Gallery, Sofia National Museum 9) Interviewed several pupils prior to choosing topic so as to ensure that the topic would be of interest to people of our age; invited ex-mayor of Varna to attend one of our history classes so as to give a speech on the matter of international relations, especially the ones related to the history of our region

Following completion of the main part of the project, we decided to give out a presentation to our class in order to acquaint them with the project’s goals and the history of its creation. The ex-mayor of Varna aided us greatly in our attempts to find the equipment necessary for the presentation.

Our most useful tools were the word-processing programmes, since they served as a basic fundament to our task. The copies of Abode Photoshop had been donated to our school by the City Council. We also relied on freeware software.

In terms of technologies, we found that using a tape recorder during our meetings was extremely productive since it saved us the time-consuming labour of recording our thoughts and ideas in writing.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

Upon completion of our work on this project, we decided to introduce our classmates to the subject matter covered in our site, i.e. international relations and multicultural co-existence and awareness. For this purpose we decided to create a presentation (using Presentation™) with the help of government officials. We believe that the presentation had the desired effect. We contacted museum directors and officials who aided us immensely by providing us with insight into the events covered, as well as materials and visual aids. Furthermore, we decided to conduct a survey among members of the minority groups in our town so as to determine their attitude towards the problems covered. Our plan also included creating a blog on the subject, but, as we discovered that most members of minority groups do not have access to the Internet, we abandoned this idea. Instead, we decided to contact officials on a higher level. We sent enquiries over the Internet to the Ministry of Culture and the National Institute of Statistics, as well as the Ministry of Education and Science. We were assured that measures will be taken towards providing minority groups with computers and Internet access. Furthermore, we were given additional insight on Bulgaria’s positive experience in the field of multicultural co-existence. We found this information really useful and included it in our presentation. As a matter of fact, the presentation was so well-accepted that we were asked to carry it out one more time, with students and teachers from other schools in town having been invited.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

We were astonished at the positive effect our site had on both our classmates, our parents and the community as a whole. Our peers started appreciating the practical applications of history as a science that not only teaches about the past, but as one that explains many aspects of modern life. On a grander scale, people from our community enjoyed the way information was presented – our site is based on a subject matter that is taught in classrooms, but, according to viewers, it presents it in a much clearer and coherent way, making use of the modern technologies that allow for the employment of visual aid that would not find a place in a normal class.

Men and women of different backgrounds looked at our page, and most of them reacted positively, stating that they had understood how exactly the Internet could help promote the values of learning and knowledge. Furthermore, people who were into web design pointed out some of the site’s disadvantages and were of great help, whereas amateur historians aided us in our quest to form a coherent exposition on the topic.

To sum up, our site has helped viewers grasp the forces that shaped the microcosm of the area around the straits, as well as to understand the way the Internet will influence classical methods of teaching in the foreseeable future.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

During our work on this project we enlisted the help of many volunteers and officials. Firstly, we enlisted the help of municipality officials, including the ex-mayor of Varna and many others. Our History teacher also aided us immensely by guiding us through all the information we had gathered. I would also like to mention our English teacher – her help was really useful when we had to translate an intricate piece of information we had found in Bulgarian. As far as distant helpers are concerned, we would like to thank all the officials in the Ministry of Culture, the National Institute of Statistics and the Ministry of Education and Science who were very helpful indeed. And, of course, let’s not forget our classmates who also helped us greatly by participating in the interviews we conducted and by evaluating our presentation


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 4689)

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