The Collegian
Friday, August 14, 2020

Peace Project receives $10,000 in funding

Juniors Zhivko Illeieff and Charles Mike were awarded $10,000 in funding from a scholar's program to support their project, "Faces of Communism," which will be composed of a Web site and documentary about communism in Bulgaria.

Illeieff, who was born in Bulgaria, and Mike, both International Studies majors, will travel to Bulgaria at the end of May and will return to the United States at the end of July. They plan to interview an array of Bulgarians throughout May and ask them about their perceptions of communism in the country. Once the interviews are complete, they will create a Web site that will contain a documentary of the interviews, supplemented with music that Illeieff will create.

"The point of this project is to document memories of communism in a visually interactive Web site," Illeieff said. "[This project] is the perfect way for me to connect my life in the United States with my life in Bulgaria."

Illeieff and Mike applied for a grant from the Davis United World College Scholars Program, which received a $1 million donation toward peace projects from Kathryn Wasserman Davis, mother of Shelby Davis, who funds the Davis UWC Scholars Program, said Krittika Onsanit, Richmond's campus official for the scholar's program.

For the past four years, up to two of Richmond's projects have been selected for the $10,000 grant per year. This year, however, "Faces of Communism" was the only project to be selected.

Illeieff and Mike plan to interview both elderly people who have lived in communist Bulgaria, as well as younger people who now live in the country's democracy. Although they intend to interview people as they meet them on a day-to-day basis, they have already planned to interview the founder of the Democratic Party in Bulgaria, Edvin Sugarev.

Illeieff came up with the idea for the project after his grandfather passed away last year because he wanted to better understand what life in Bulgaria was like when his grandfather lived there.

Mike became involved in the project because he has had previous experience at UR's Modlin Center with producing, filming and editing videos. A Bulgarian film student, Tsvetan Naydenov, will also help Mike with the filming when the two men arrive in Bulgaria.

The documentary, which will be spoken in Bulgarian but will contain English subtitles, will be included on the project's Web site,, when it is completed. The Web site, Mike said, will also contain interviews that were not included in the documentary, as well as "behind the scenes" footage of Illeieff and Mike's two-month travel extravaganza.

"The language barrier is definitely an obstacle that I will encounter," Mike said. "I know I am going to feel like a fish out of the water, but I want to take that challenge and pick up the language as best as I can."

Mike said the final documentary should be no more than ninety minutes long, which will take about one month of rigorous composing to complete.

Onsanit was not surprised this project was the recipient of the grant. "[This project] was not at all comparable to others," she said. "Their proposal was well-organized with clear goals of what they wanted to accomplish, and they were realistic."

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