Year 12 students Poppy Taylor and Nicole Nissan, have returned home from ORT’s Digital Skills Academy 2019 in Sofia, Bulgaria, bursting with digital knowledge.
The girls were the first ever UK participants on the retreat and spent two weeks training in digital media production with 26 students from around the world, including Israel, South Africa and several European countries.
The intensive course was split in two, with Poppy choosing to follow the video production strand, while Nicole studied digital photography.
Here they share their DSA experiences:
“At the DSA, I learnt so much about video production from amazing teachers and connected with teenagers from all over the world, which is an opportunity I wouldn’t have had at any other summer programme. Before the course, I had a really limited knowledge of the technical aspects of video production, but now I feel really well equipped to go out into the TV industry with the new skills that I’ve learnt.
When I first arrived, I was quite intimidated by the amount of knowledge that some of the other students had, but I was quickly welcomed by the group and made so many new friends straight away. I was surprised by the fact that despite all of the students came from different parts of the world, we all got along so easily and all shared really similar interests.
During our time in Sofia, we had workshops on the different aspects of video production which took place in the ORT school. We also had two visits to Bulgaria’s national news channels and had the chance to work professionally in Nu Boyana Film Studios. In the second week we traveled to Brestnik, where we presented three live broadcasts.
The best part of the DSA was taking part in the live broadcast on the Digital Skills Academy YouTube channel. Nicole and I really enjoyed cooking a vegetarian full English breakfast live on air!
Despite not going to an ORT school like most of the other students on the DSA, I have now seen and benefited from the impact that ORT has on education worldwide. Whether it’s academic or vocational work, ORT sees these as equally as important and really sets students up to work in the real world.
For those applying next year, don’t be scared because you think that you don’t know enough about digital media – firstly, you probably know more than you think about video or photography, but also, the DSA is all learning from peers and sharing ideas with each other.”
“I applied for the DSA, as I thought it was an amazing opportunity to get experience in the world of photography, as well as it being an amazing chance to meet new people and explore another country.
My favourite place we visited was probably the Nu Boyana film studios. I found it extremely interesting to see a real life film set and have the chance to spend the day filming and taking photos. I really enjoyed seeing everyone work and it took our skills to another level. Night photography was also very interesting – learning how you can manipulate images to look a certain way with your camera.
I also really enjoyed being involved in the live streams; acting in one was fun and I also loved it when Poppy and I presented an English breakfast on the second day of the live streaming. It showed us how much preparation goes into a show and how to improvise when things go wrong!
I enjoyed learning about lighting; we learnt about different reflectors and studio lights and their impact on an image. These are skills I never would have learnt without the DSA. I learnt so many new skills, but a big one for me was learning how to manually operate the camera to get the image I want. Before the DSA, I would always rely on the automatic settings but I now feel confident in using my knowledge to get the perfect picture.
I think the people really made the experience as amazing as it was. Meeting people from all over the world who spoke different languages and had different backgrounds but still shared the same passion as me was something I found very interesting and something I would have never got to experience without this trip.
I did not know a lot about ORT before the trip, but whilst I was there I learnt that there are ORT schools all around the world and opportunities for students in lots of countries.
To anyone thinking of applying for next year, don’t be nervous as everyone is in the same position, shares the same passion and is excited to make new friends. Everyone is so friendly and nice, so the nerves are overtaken by excitement!