CEO & Founder
Maggie Nazer was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria to a Bulgarian mother and a Palestinian father. At the age of 16 she founded a youth-led NGO in Sofia and conducted tens of community service projects, as well as international youth exchange programs, funded by the European Commission. In 2014, Maggie taught English and implemented a month-long leadership academy to empower youth on the West Bank in Palestine. She has also interned with UNDP, the Administration of the President of Bulgaria, as well as a consulting firm which serves non-profits in NYC. Most recently Maggie did research, consulted local NGOs and supported the work of the Population Council in Sierra Leone, Western Africa. In 2017 she will graduate from Middlebury College with a degree in Sociology. During her time at Middlebury Maggie realized her dream to not only travel to and live in the Middle East, but also to learn Arabic. It is through studying Arabic at Middlebury that Maggie got inspired to bring full immersion language teaching to Bulgaria.
Curriculum Development & Assessment Director
Dr. Aziz Fatnassi received his PhD at Indiana University, his work focuses on linguistic anthropology, migration, cultural violence, human rights, and social justice. He serves our organization by providing institutional research, curriculum and assessment development.
Faculty in Residence
Special Guest Lecturer, Advisor, Staff Mentor
Claudia has a Doctorate in Education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She spends the last 15 years teaching Education Studies and English Literature at Middlebury College.
Eight years ago Claudia visits Ethiopia, adopts a child and starts an NGO which supports orphaned children and single mothers. As the director of Betasab/Global Family Initiative she is in charge of various programs improving the lives of the poorest, most vulnerable women and children in Ethiopia.
Claudia participates actively in the creation of Immersion Academy as a mentor and advisor and will teach creative writing, support the rest of the facilitators and provide office hours for program participants.
Shannon Ovitt studies at Middlebury College. She grew up in the Southern Adirondack Mountains in rural upstate New York. She is a Computer Science major, focusing on computer architecture, operating systems, and security. She is also a multi-medium artist, excelling at graphic and visual design, digital or traditional. She is skilled at English grammar, as well as textual analysis.
Eva Bod is American-French. Since 9 years old she begins to travel and volunteer. Her talent as a pianist develops with the support of an inspiring teacher who gives her the freedom to practice playing music pieces she has selected herself, instead of forcing her to study a predetermined selection of artworks. This teacher inspires Eva’s approach as a facilitator at Immersion Academy: according to her teachers should expose their students to new ideas and ways of interacting with the world, as well as to give them the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in various ways. Eva was born in the state of Minnesota.
Lee Michael Garcia Jimenez studies Psychology and Education Studies. He has previously studied in United WOrld Colleges, where he spends the last two years of High School and meets people from around the world. Lee’s interest and activities include playing trombone, developing himself as a writer, participation in theater plays, and being a leader for an LGBTQI organization . In 2016 Lee receives a prestigious award recognizing him as an outstanding activist in the state of Vermont. Lee’s pedagogy is centered around mindful learning, shame deconstruction and fostering empathy. Born in San Antonio, Texas, he hopes to return and teach high school science there, as well as to adopt three cats.”
Isabella Carey studied Sociology at Middlebury College. In 2012 Bella received a prestigious national scholarship to spend six weeks studying Russian and ballet at the Moscow Government Academy of Choreography. It was during this time, while immersed in the Russian language and culture, that she developed a passion and curiosity for cross-cultural exchange. Bella is fascinated by the ways in which individuals can learn from sharing different cultural attributes, and the role of teaching in creating and fostering such opportunities. Bella values education for its ability to create a space where one can give and receive knowledge in an environment that encourages questioning and exploration. She hopes to go into human rights advocacy to work with communities to support movement towards equality, using teaching as a tool to reform structures that perpetuate oppressive and violent behavior.
Technical and Marketing Support
Martin Rohani is an experienced dancer, circus performer and personal development coach. He supports Immersion Academy with website support (big shout out for our gorgeous website!), maintenance of our digital presence, technical assistance and marketing advice.
Administrative Assistance and Leadership Development Intern
Luka Kosmina is Serbian. He studies Political Science at Middlebury College. Prior to Middlebury College, he attended United World College for the last two years of his high school education. During his two years at UWC, he has met people from many different backgrounds and cultures. Luka’s interest include basketball and debate, becoming the leader of his debate team in United World College. Luka is fluent in Serbian, English and Italian. He hopes to improve his leadership skills even further and, upon graduating from Middlebury, find a job in the political field.
Psychological and emotional support (Intern)
Damyana Burova has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Sofia University ‘’St. Kliment Ohridski.’’ She is also a professional tour guide and a passionate blogger. Having taken part in many international projects and psychology conferences and conventions, she is interested in human rights, personal development and social psychology. Damyana has recently started her own blog and writes about a variety of topics related to psychology. She will support Immersion Academy’s participants by providing psychosocial support and conflict resolution, as well as helping with digital and direct marketing prior to the start of the summer programs.