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OUR TEAM

Meet The Team


Team Camp Golden Gate is a diverse group of people from around the world. Each member of our team is committed to making sure that all our campers have the experience of a lifetime. Each person adds something special and exciting to the life at Camp Golden Gate. Their passion for their roles within the team is instantly visible to all our students. All of our teachers are Americans, and each of our counselors is fluent in English. We have hand-picked our team extremely carefully to ensure their experiences, education, qualifications, and expertise will help Camp Golden Gate bring out the very best in every camper!


Jose Lomeli

California / USA

Founder/Camp Director/Start-up Teacher

At the age of six, Jose saw the map of the world for the first time. This became a milestone in his life. Because at that moment he understood that when we are born, we are somehow put in a specific geographical area, but that it is up to us to explore the beautiful world we live in. Since Jose was 18 years old, he has committed himself to become a better person by traveling the world. He has lived in five different countries and traveled to over 35 countries. As Jose reflects, “One must travel to as many countries as his age, or more, to feel the bliss of humanity.” Jose graduated with a B.A. in International Relations with an emphasis on Economic Development and a second B.A. in Latin America Literature from the University of California, Davis. He served as a Peace Corp Volunteer in Bulgaria and the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. In Bulgaria, he was an English teacher and a Project Manager for an NGO that focus on tolerance and equality for minority groups. Jose is also an entrepreneur by heart. He worked for over ten years in management and investment for large firms. But his biggest goal now is to focus on projects that will improve the education of the youth by helping them expand their access to diversity, knowledge exchange, and innovation. After all, Jose truly believes that the best way to develop a country or a community is through education.

Vladimir Lalov

Sofia / Bulgaria

Founder/Operations Manager

Vladimir is extremely passionate about combining traditional teaching methods with newer, more interactive techniques of teaching and learning. Being raised in a family of three teachers, he fell in love with studying from an early age. Vladimir holds a BA in Business Administration from the American University in Bulgaria. After that, he continued his education in Business at the University of Amsterdam and Charles University in Prague. Vladimir has always liked meeting a diverse group of people and spent many summers in the USA as a student, working on different projects in various industries. His past experiences helped him apply his knowledge and experience in different NGOs and educational programs, which focused on innovative ways for teaching and learning. He strongly believes that both mental and physical education play a vital role in the development of teenagers and that meeting people from different countries really enriches people and helps them to be part of one global network.

Tereza Yacheva

Sofia / Bulgaria

Sales / Administrative Assistant

Tereza’s childhood dream was to change the world. She grew up in an international family with a Bulgarian father and Russian mother . As a child, every summer she spent in Rostov-on-Don in Russia. When returning back to Bulgaria, it was difficult for her to switch languages and used Russian words,often becoming an object of ridicule from her classmates. She managed to get a lot of valuable experiences in life in her teenage years.She tried many different courses such as: acting modelling, opened small jewelry company. She discovered that life is not so easy when she moved to a different city and lived by herself in her students years. Tereza believes that any situation in life gives you experience, each new person with whom you meet is wealth. She attended an international camp in Moscow, and a few camps in Bulgaria, a work and travel program in the US and used her spare time to travel in Europe. Tereza is grateful for the freedom to choose, given by her her parents who believed that every child should try different activities because it helps you understand who you are and what you do with your life. Her mission is to help teenagers in search of happiness in their lives.

Mihaylo Dimo

Sofia / Bulgaria

Marketing Specialist

Mihaylo is a young marketer who has studied BA Marketing at London South Bank University. Born in Ukraine and raised in Bulgaria, he has always been curious about the world and its diversity which was one of his motives to study abroad. In London, he made friends with amazing people from all over the world and as he says - he experienced the magic of being in an international environment. Mihaylo is also a keen photographer and proficient graphic designer. He currently studies programming in his spare time so he can expand his knowledge of Digital Marketing. Apart from being passionate about marketing and advertising, Mihaylo always tries to stay active no matter if it’s only a short hike or a hard workout. He is open minded and loves traveling and meeting new people.

Milana Kordic

Belgrade / Serbia

Camp Coordinator for Serbia

Milana is a free spirit and open minded best friend living in Belgrade, Serbia. She holds a BA degree in Management of Engineering from Singidunum University in Belgrade. Also, she was a part of huge student organization (AIESEC) that made her passionate for discovering new ways of business and learning, thinking and organizing, planning and proceeding. Her vision is to make people smile and be positive about different situations in life! She loves to express her creativity trough handmade things – usually jewelry and wardrobe, trough writing and travelling! Milana is a former Summer Camp in Bulgaria student – she made lots of new friends from all over the world, improved her English by participating in the writing course at the camp, did a lot of sports and improved her leadership skills trough some extra tasks and activities. She would love if she had more time to participate in it, at least one more time. So, Future Campers, seize the time that works for you and try to join and participate to any program that improves your body and soul in a positive and perspective way! At least, you can never be full of new friends and experiences ;)

Joe Ilk

Wisconsin / USA

Journalism Teacher

I graduated from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with my certificate to teach first through eighth grade and then decided to join the U.S. Peace Corps. I was assigned to live and work in a small Muslim village in Eastern Bulgaria, near the Black Sea. There I taught English to students 2nd - 8th grade, facilitated seminars about best teaching practices for over 200 teachers around the country, worked on a number of community/youth development projects, and grew to love everything about my experience. Since returning home I have been teaching a variety of subjects to 5th and 6th grade students. Teaching and learning are a big part of what I truly love to do, but in my time off I continue to love to travel and spend time in the outdoors no matter what the season is. Whether it is fishing, hiking, or just enjoying a book in the sun, being outside is where I wish to be.

Rafael Aguilar

California / USA

Creative writing teacher

Rafael Aguilar is excited to be joining the Camp Golden Gate teaching team this summer. Rafael was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bulgaria from 2009-2013. He was an education volunteer for 3 years in Bregovo, Bulgaria. He became a legacy volunteer in his 4th year and worked on helping institutionalize Peace Corps projects. Rafael holds a B.A. in Global and International Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has a Masters in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. Rafael lives in San Francisco, California and is currently an Asylum and Refugee Officer for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, at the San Francisco Asylum Office. He sporadically volunteers at tutoring centers at asylee and refugee communities around the Bay Area. In his spare time, Rafael sings with an a cappella group in San Francisco. He is totally an Aquarius and does not like celery or cats.

Rain Swashbuckler

California / USA

Nutrition Teacher

Growing up in a city with very limited outdoor opportunities, Rain was eager to go to places in the world as described by her childhood adventures stories growing up. At 18, she was a summer camp counselor in the United States and her horizons expanded. Being a nomad, she has learnt to be resourceful and adaptable and allowed her to travel and see as much of the world on a budget. Memorable experiences including crewing from one end of Panama to another, help with installing water tanks in indigenous villages, living with actual nomads in Mongolia, hiking the volcanoes in New Zealand and more.

Irada Samadova

Baku / Azerbaijan

Counselor

Irada is a High School English teacher. She's been teaching since 1989, and she is a finalist of Partners in Education and Teaching Excellence Award ran by the US State Department.

Ruhangiz Guliyeva

Baku / Azerbaijan

Counselor

Ruhangiz is an English teacher since 1990. Engages school students in IEARN international projects.

Sarah Watters

Mississippi / USA

Art Teacher

Sarah Watters is a self-taught artist. Her love of imagination and color has led her on an exploration of the arts for the past 15+ years. She works in a variety of mediums, creating mostly with paint and pencil, but is always learning new techniques and various ways to be creative. Her works feature a variety of objects, including discarded and reclaimed materials, merely trying to emphasize the “throw away” society in which we live and have become so comfortable with; the idea that trash can be made beautiful, relishing that change is everlasting. Sarah has had the pleasure to teach several art classes for various organizations including CoachArt and Tower Cancer Research Foundation (both located in Los Angeles, California). She also holds weekend art therapy classes for adults. Originally a native from California, she now resides in Mississippi working and creating in Jackson metropolitan area.

Jacob Barkemeyer

New Mexico / USA

Creative writing teacher

Jacob is a former Peace Corp Volunteer in Bulgaria. He graduated as a certified teacher from New Mexico University. He currently teaches in a public school in San Francisco, CA. Jacob is driven to promote a learning environment that fosters a dynamic setting allowing students to push their critical thinking outside of their comfort zone. Teaching is his passion in life. In the past, Jacob has also volunteered his time on community projects that focus on youth development, with an emphasis on minorities. In many of his courses, Jacob uses creative writing exercises to help his students improve their ability to express their point of view in an original and interesting way. Jacob truly believes that creative writing will help students to develop confidence and identity.

Clare Patano

Illinois / USA

Drama Teacher

Clare Patano holds a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education with areas of concentration in English and Speech and Performing Arts. Drama was an early passion, and Clare participated in both high school and college-level productions. After graduation, she worked in the Chicago schools and community organizations to utilize and develop the talents of youth to create their own productions. Meanwhile, she continued to act in small community theaters around the Chicago area. Most recently, Clare was a volunteer instructor at AUBG, teaching a weeklong class in drama for the English camps. Clare notes the benefits of participating in drama as, “...a great way to collaborate, to put your skills into the mix and to discover some new ones there. A great, short piece needs writers, actors, stage and prop and costume people. There's something for everyone to do. One week is short and intense, but fun.”

Raia Mihaylova

North Carolina / USA

Counselor

Raia is a bold, young woman with a deep understanding of international reporting. She graduated from the American University in Bulgaria with a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications and later furthered her education by getting a double masters in Media and Financial Journalism (Denmark and London). Her educational background has landed her many amazing opportunities. She has worked as a news reporter for the Bulgarian National Darik Radio and various other European and American media organizations. Raia grew up in the US and therefore she is truly bilingual, knowing very well the media scene of both Europe and the other side of the Atlantic. After recently doing a traineeship at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, she decided to stay and is now a Communications Officer for an NGO. Raia believes in a hands-on approach to teaching. Campers will have the chance to create writing projects, short documentaries, and radio materials, all the while learning how to video shoot and edit.

Gabriel Paulino

California / USA

Counselor

Gabriel Paulino, Ph.D. is a Senior Product Development Scientist for Bulletproof 360, a start-up in the Lifestyle Industry, helping individuals reach their peak performance of their minds and bodies. As a young kid, he had a high interest in the workings of Life at the molecular level which led him to pursue a career in Science & Technology. He got admitted at the Paris Institute of Technology where he got his Master in Engineering in Life Sciences and a Master of Science in Human Health and Nutrition. He then decided to move to the University of California, Davis to get his Ph.D. in Neurophysiology of Nutrition studying the communication between the brain and the gut and its impact on health. This whole educational journey was essential in developing the necessary skills of vision, entrepreneurship, agriculture, nutrition, and the environment in a holistic approach to building a better future for the next generations to come.

Claudia Cruz

California / USA

Digital Marketing Teacher

Claudia is a native of Southern California. For the past 18 years, Claudia has developed her career in Business Development and Sales. She understands the market and the customer's needs. Her strength is understanding marketing and how it can drive sales, improve relationships, customer satisfaction, and increase market share. Claudia understands not only old fashion marketing but also the new platform of digital marketing. She is a seasoned marketer and is excited to share her knowledge with the new generations.

Andrew Kuschner

New Jersey / USA

Counselor

Andrew Kuschner is a young entrepreneur. He went to NYU and graduated Republic of Kyrgyzstan for two and a half years. After his service had ended, he founded his own startup “Silk Road Bazaar.” The company Silk Road Bazaar is a wholesale representative of marginalized artist groups located in Central Asia. They connect with artists who are far from the capitals, who have limited market access, who do not possess modern marketable skills but have carried on traditional craft culture. Currently Andrew employees over 70 women who can sell their art across the USA

Juan Martinez

Colombia / USA

Web Design Teacher

Juan Martinez is an innovator by heart. He graduated in Graphic Design from the Academy of Art University of San Francisco. His vision is to always tell a story with the simplest silhouettes. He is currently working on a book about the architectural composition of the city of San Francisco. In the past, Juan has volunteered his time at the Harvey Milk Foundation to help young designers further their careers. Juan is passionate about how the architectural composition of a city affects the human environment of its inhabitants. He currently lives in San Francisco and works as a graphic designer for Personal Capital. Juan’s favorite hobby is to drive for hours and lose himself in the landscape. His inspiration is nature.

Lorena Barić

Zagreb / Croatia

Counselor

Lorena is a contemporary photographer and professional doodler living in Zagreb, Croatia. She holds a BA diploma in International Relations and Journalism and Mass Communication from the American University in Bulgaria, along with an MA in Value Studies from Bard College Berlin. She currently works as a project manager for EU educational programs and volunteers in two arts organizations – International Photography Festival Organ Vida, and Association for Applied Arts. She regularly holds art and creative workshops for youth, and organizes and produces art exhibitions and photography festivals. She has exhibited her art installations and photography, as well as started a photography magazine called InFocus.

Antoniya Shivarova

Sofia / Bulgaria

Counselor

Hi to all! My name is Antoniya and I am a Bulgarian, who lives in Germany. How did this happen? Well, I decided to study in Germany many years ago, and now I am even doing my Ph.D. in Financial Economics and Analysis at the Viadrina University in Frankfurt (Oder), east of Berlin, where I live. To be international has always been a focus of mine. This is why every day I try to live to it. From the first day in Germany when I met so many Polish people to today where I already speak fluently in four languages, managing to get by in Polish, Russian and Czech as well. Living in Berlin gives a feeling of vibrant globalization. Being a Bulgarian gives a unique opportunity to positively represent an interesting, diversified country. Having friends from different places from Argentina to Russia gives me the knowledge and a deep understanding of various cultures, shaping one into a person of integrity. I am happy to be part of a project, which aims to develop these amazing feelings and values. Well, and English is, of course, essential. So, I could only advise anyone who wishes to have a unique experience to participate and take everything they can out of it. Have a great time and be yourself, whoever you are. This makes it all so amazing!

Georgi Buchvarov

Veliko Tarnovo / Bulgaria

Counselor

Georgi Bachvarov is an experienced journalist and political communicator with nine years experience. He is a graduate in “Political Science” from the University of Veliko Tarnovo “St. Cyril and Methodius.” Since then, he has collaborated for various regional newspapers as a journalist and political observer. Nowadays he is editor in chief of “Pavlikenski glas” – regional bi-weekly publication. Georgi Bachvarov has four years experience in PR for NGO’s, governmental and private organizations in Bulgaria. He is running his own boutique PR agency called “Vlastelini.”

Danica M Noraković

Padgorica / Monte Negro

Counselor

Danica is a seasoned English teacher with more than 20 years of experience. She graduated from the Faculty of Philology, with a Degree in the English language in Nikšić, Montenegro. She is a dedicated and respected elementary teacher at the Osnovna Škola “Dr. Dagriša Ivanovič” in the city of Padgorica. She cares about the children and the community she serves. Danica believes that education is an integral part of a healthy mind. She has participated in many International summer English camps. Besides being a role model teacher, Danica is the mother of three children and a dedicated member of her community. Danica has a smile that shines everywhere she goes.

Alexandra Springer

D.C. Washington / USA

Counselor

Alex is a poised young professional that is focused on becoming a better professional and a better person every day she wakes up. Her drive is embraced the experiences life gives her, and she learns from her mistakes and challenges. Alex graduated with a B.A. in International Relations from the American University of Washington D.C and currently is finishing her Masters of Public Administration at George Mason University. Alex is also a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Bulgaria where she worked in the area of youth development. Currently, she works as an HR Project Analyst for the Northrop Grumman Corporation. During her free time, Alex enjoys exploring fine dining in the city, reading a book, and spending time with her friends.

Momchil Baev

Sofia / Bulgaria

Counselor

Momchil holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences and a Master’s in Public health management. His education of a social worker and health manager gives him a strong sense for the social determinants of health and the social disparities in healthcare. Throughout his entire career in different places, he has worked with volunteers as he started as a volunteer himself back in his high school years serving for various public community events and causes. He has devoted many years to youth development and sexual and reproductive health education, doing outreach and community work, advocacy, training and teaching. Much of his work and beliefs are close to the ideas of multiculturalism, diversity and equality working for the most influential Roma organization in Bulgaria. Besides his devotion to public service and young people, Momchil’s biggest passions are history and cultural heritage. In his spare time, he does research work and papers in the contemporary history of XIX and XX centuries.

Katerina Ignatova

Gorna Oryahovica / Bulgaria

Counselor

Katerina holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Languages and Translation Studies; a Master’s degree in Conference Interpreting and will soon obtain her second Master’s degree in European Studies. She has been working as a translator in both Bulgaria and abroad while being involved in several projects related to election observation and promotion of democracy. Besides translation, Katerina is interested in diversity and multilingual communication and the fundamental role language plays in the present globalized environment. She is also interested in the ways education, as a complex system with its own internal dynamics, can become more inclusive and adequate to the present day social and cultural challenges.

Kiah Kristine M.D.

California / USA

Counselor

Kiah is a young Medical Doctor working in the ER Department at Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento, CA. She graduated as an M.D. from UC Irvine and did her residency work for three years at UCI Medical Affiliates. Since Kiah was a little girl, she always wanted to be a doctor because of her deep passion for caring for others. Besides her medical work at the hospital Kiah also consults for Trifecta, a meal delivery business providing guidance on calorie planning for meal's, foods that have high micronutrient profiles, and giving the nutrition team access to the most up to date nutrition studies via PubMed, the NIH and Up To Date. Kiah is very outgoing and enjoys volunteering her time for great causes; she also enjoys traveling around the world.

Greg Connolly

California / USA

Counselor

Greg is an entrepreneur by heart. He graduated from Chico State University with a B.S. in Business Management. While he was in college, he managed to co-found and direct a small design firm. In 2010 he founded Amara Beverage. Amara's mission is to help get America back into shape by providing coffee and coffee/protein blends to consumers. Then in 2015 he co-founded Trifecta Nutrition. Trifecta sources, cooks and ships 100% Organic Meals from local farmers and delivers them nationwide. Exploring the market and finding good opportunities keep Greg healthy and moving forward. Greg cares about animal welfare, economic empowerment, health and the environment.

Florian Rier

Italy / Germany

Counselor

Florian is a young professional, currently working for an international sales company in Vienna, Austria. His motto in life is “be kind to others and travel the world.” Traveling and meeting people from different places and with different points of view is important to Florian. He enjoys working with children and feels that he can relate a lot to them. He likes to go to the movies and enjoys a good vegetarian dinner with friends. He has worked mostly in the service industry and believes that a good attitude goes a long way. Florian is a firm believer that “when you smile others will smile back at you.”


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