Friday, April 23, 2010
Over the past two years one of the things that I've mentioned in my e-mails and informal conversations and chats has been the segregation of the Roma (gypsies) and the tension between the ethnic Turks and ethnic Bulgarians due to the Ottoman Empire's 500 year occupation. Racism and intolerance is a really big problem for both youth and adults. One of my most eye-opening experiences has been my participation with the Roma and Multiethnic Camps. The organizers are young Bulgarian, Turkish, Roma and Bulgarian Muslim leaders, and the exchange experience is invaluable to the participants, high school youth from all over Bulgaria.
There's another great group of organizers working on the camp this year, including my friend, Matt Piscitelli, who has taken over my role as the volunteer organizer. However, they need funding. If you can find it in your hearts and pockets to help us fund the camp this year, there's a link on the Peace Corps website with further information and a way to easily donate online. Donations can be as little or big as your budget can spare. Click here for more information:
Here's the description of the camp:
The camp “Zaedno Napred” (Forward Together) will unite 40 high school students, eight youth leaders who participated in last year’s camp, and influential community members to share experiences, exchange ideas and debate issues in an open forum. The camp will be eight days long with a two day pre-seminar in preparation for the camp. This camp will give youth the tools to understand their dynamic role in society and how to deal effectively with the challenges that they and their communities face. The camp will equip promising youth with information, leadership skills, debating skills, and motivation to develop and improve their lives and their communities. Session topics will include human rights, ethnic integration, history and identity of ethnic groups in Bulgaria, leadership skills, community responsibility, sexual education, discrimination and human trafficking. Social and governmental leaders will be brought in to discuss these topics, share their own experiences and talk about the role of youth in society. Knowledge of self and cultural identity will help participants define their roles as future leaders and productive citizens, and help their communities find an effective voice in Bulgaria’s democracy. Participants will be encouraged to put their newly acquired skills into practice immediately as they return to their communities and start youth groups, work on community projects, and participate in national youth networks. Through the involvement of organizations and community members from other cities, Multiethnic Youth Organization Forward Together (MYOFT) will build upon their pre-existing network of valuable contacts, thus increasing progress toward ethnic tolerance in Bulgaria.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
Thanks for your support!