U.S. Ambassador Marcie B. Ries Visits ACS

ACS welcomed H. E. Marcie B. Ries on January 14. This was her first visit to our school after she was sworn in as Ambassador to the Republic of Bulgaria in September last year. Ambassador Ries was accompanied by Counselor for Public Affairs Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, Cultural Attaché Richard Damstra, and Cultural Assistant Krum Kaishev.

The visit started with a tour on campus guided by Dr. Johnson and Ms. Angelova. Our guests paid special attention to the library, the international faculty houses, and the other areas, included in Phase I of the master plan for College facilities improvement for which ACS received a large grant from the America for Bulgaria Foundation. They also visited the Whitaker Auditorium and the most recently renovated academic Building #7.

Undoubtedly, the U.S. Ambassador’s visit was most memorable for the students invited to meet her - Katherine Krem, Silvia Cherneva, Yoana Petrova, Todor Manev, Matthew Lukanoff, and Svetoslav Kostov. The chosen students have many academic and extracurricular achievements, largely acknowledged on the pages of the ACS Newsletter. The boys and girls introduced themselves in brief, sharing with Ambassador Ries information about their favorite school activities and their plans for the future. The students were impatient to learn more about our guest, asking the Ambassador questions about her high-school experience, her favorite subjects, and, of course, about “how somebody decides to become an ambassador” and what challenges a person devoted to a diplomatic career has to face.

During the meeting with the students, Ambassador Ries shared that the American Embassy is connected to ACS in several ways. In the first place, ACS is an English Language school where the students show special interest in learning the language and, eventually, many of them decide to continue their university education in the U.S. Also, a well-known fact is that two of the members of the ACS Board of Trustees - Avis Bohlen and Sol Polansky - are former U.S. Ambassadors to Bulgaria who played an important role for the reopening of the school and its development since 1992. Last but not least, Ambassador Ries’s team shows profound interest in Bulgaria, and meetings with different people provide a valuable opportunity to learn more about each other’s countries. “I am still getting to know Bulgaria better”, shared Ambassador Ries, “and from what I’ve already seen and learned, I find Bulgaria’s culture and history quite unique and fascinating”.

Several of the attending students shared that ACS gives them the opportunity not only to develop in disciplines, in which they traditionally have achievements, but also to discover that they have surprising talents in other areas. “It is difficult to decide on our future university education because we are interested in various subjects”.

“Don’t make your decisions too soon; keep your minds open to new subjects and experiences, to new people and cultures”, was Ambassador Ries’s advice. “You have time to explore new things, to find interest in subjects for which you probably did not have time at school”.

Junior Svetoslav Kostov shared with the ACS Newsletter his impressions from Ms. Ries’s visit, “In my eyes, the visit of the new U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, Marcie Ries, to ACS was proof of the school’s outstanding prestige. It was an honor for me to meet the Ambassador in person, for which I am very grateful. The panel discussion that we, the students of ACS, had with Madame Ries inspired me to continue learning and making the effort to succeed. The most important thing I learned was that a person is the agent of discovering and realizing the opportunities in his or her own life. Ambassador Ries shared interesting aspects of her career and emphasized her views on the role of youth in Bulgaria and as a whole, and identified my generation’s goals as being at the core of the development of our world and ourselves. I believe her most important message to us as students and young people was to be flexible and to use and combine all resources and talents we have to the maximum of our abilities. This image of a multi-disciplined, multi-cultural, and overall successful person is what I took home from the visit. Finally, I was glad to find out that due to namely her flexibility and openness Ambassador Ries has grown fond of Bulgaria”.

The ACS Newsletter, January 2013