Societal norms have dictated that a good student is the one who gets the best grades. The founder of Camp Golden Gate has a different opinion. Jose believes that every student is special and has a unique talent. He believes that a student might not be good at the core subjects such as math or science, but it doesn’t mean he is not good at something else. This point of view has inspired Jose to launch Camp Golden Gate, a place where teenagers have the freedom to be themselves and find within them the passion in their lives. Empowering students is the ultimate goal of Camp Golden Gate.

Jose recalls how a former student of his, Angel Vitanoff, showed him the valuable lesson that every student has the potential to be the best they can be when they have someone that believes in them. Seeing first hand how an International American Camp transformed Angel gave Jose the motivation to move back to Bulgaria and create Camp Golden Gate. Below, is a short interview with the student that inspired Jose to follow his passion.


Camp Golden Gate: First of all, could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself. What do you study? Do you have any hobbies or interests?

Angel: I’m 22 years old, from northeast of Bulgaria – Gorna Oryahovitsa. I’m a third-year student in the University of Veliko Turnovo, studying English Linguistics. I’m an active person who likes sports. Currently I’m training bodybuilding. As a teenager, I was a bit troublesome in the classroom and wasn’t very keen on studying. (he laughs) However a lot has changed from that time.


Camp Golden Gate: How did you meet our Camp Director – Jose Lomeli?

Angel: One day in the school a teacher came and told us that she has a new colleague coming from the US. From the very beginning we were interested in wanting to meet him. I remember that I was the first to introduce myself to him. He wasn’t our typical teacher as he always gave us interesting presentations about the US and Mexico (because he is a Mexican too). He tried not only to teach us English, but also to enrich us culturally. I remember one year, when he came to class with Mexican food (he laughs) the food was weird but in a good way. I've never tried such a dish before. The one thing that really set him apart from my other teachers was that all students, including me, could speak to him openly as if he was a student - one of us. As I said I was a troublesome kid and one time I was asked to see the principal of our school, but Jose stood up for me and told him that I’ll behave. He believed that I have a hidden potential and helped me to believe in myself.


Camp Golden Gate: Mr. Lomeli sponsored you to participate in an International American Summer Camp in 2013. Tell us how this experience was significant for you?

Angel: The Summer Camp was literally a life changer and I don’t even know from where to start. For couple of weeks I studied, collaborated and made friends with students from different countries such as Serbia, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Spain, Azerbaijan and Russia. It was an amazing experience and my English improved tremendously. I was so impressed when guys who almost couldn’t speak in English improved as well. Freedom of choice and creativity were foundations of the camp and I think that this pushed us to open ourselves more toward learning and developing ourselves. Apart from improving English, I discovered myself and got a better grasp of my interests.  I unlocked skills that I’ve never believed I was good at. For example, by choosing to study Drama with our teacher Clare, I learned that I have leadership skills and that I am very creative in a team environment. We had fun studying together and I even still stay in contacts with some friends I made at this camp.


Camp Golden Gate: Would you like to tell something or give an advice to our future campers?

Angel: One thing I want to say to the future campers of Camp Golden Gate is to be open, brave (even a little bit reckless) when it comes to being a part of the camp. You can’t lose anything from trying.



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