We say “See you again” to our volunteers in V. Preslav town

На финала на проект: “Summer Academy “Not Just History 2022” в гр.Велики Преслав. 

At the end of the project “Summer Academy “Not Just History 2022” in Veliki Preslav

 Project 2021-1-BG01-ESC51-VTJ-000037661

Volunteer participation in the Open Space Foundation’s “It’s Not Just History” program. It is financed by the European Solidarity Corps Program of the EU, duration: 2021-2024.

The Not Just History program uses art and non-formal learning as a vehicle for social change and personal development. Through art activities (music, fine and applied arts, theater, puppets, crafts- weaving and layering), children and youth develop their creativity, exchange and master new artistic techniques, and strengthen faith in their own skills and capabilities. The program is a kind of bridge between traditions and modernity, between cultures, and generations. The participants not only immerse themselves in the creative world but also experience and talk about various topics of life – friendship, boyfriends, relationships with peers and adults, communication, and teamwork. The academy takes place in the town of Petrich and the town of Veliki Preslav, where we use the cultural features characteristic of the region.

In the town of Veliki Preslav, they have the opportunity to touch real archaeological excavations and help in activities with local people related to history, ethnology, crafts, local lore, and important contemporaries from the area in an interesting and pleasant way.

 Since 2015, our team has been helped by volunteers from European and neighboring countries. This gives a new focus to the work – studying history, comparing periods of a nation’s development, looking at artifacts, and practicing foreign language skills. From 12 to 20 volunteers support local teams, museum workers, teachers, and trainers in their mission to work with young people and nurture creativity, and interest in cultural and historical heritage, but also interpret the facts. The participants are children and youth from the area and those who live outside the country but have returned for the summer vacation with their grandparents. Participation in the academy is free and every year it gives children and teenagers from different social groups a chance to communicate and have fun together. We help them overcome discriminatory sentiments and openly talk about topics related to hate speech, acceptance of others, and diversity in the world. The presence of the volunteers from European countries is especially helpful for this: https://www.openspacebg.com/video-canal-youtube/

Cultural heritage defines who we are and strengthens our sense of belonging to a common European family. We are all part of a peaceful community of over 500 million citizens with a rich history and intertwined cultures. The project also enables young people from different countries to participate in cultural heritage preservation and promotion activities. For young people, this is a particularly important period when they still have aspirations and are intensely searching for a deeper meaning in things. As they search for their own identity and their place under heaven, they still tend to question the customs, traditions, habits, beliefs, and attitudes that were handed down to them during childhood. It is also a stage of development in which the individual value system is formed. Acquaintance with facts and interpretation of real events in the past can reveal new perspectives that will help participants to examine concepts more deeply and to approach critically the interconnectedness of values ​​and belief systems. They can also help to gain a clearer picture of what a person does not want to become.

The ambition of our project is to encourage people, especially young people, to get to know the rich cultural diversity of our region, as well as to pay attention to the place that this cultural heritage occupies in our daily lives.

During the project period, the volunteers in Veliki Preslav:

  • They participated in excavations in the old city, learned about the history of Bulgaria, and learned about people’s livelihoods (in the past and now);
  • Another part of them helped in our activities with children and young people, which this year we held in the comfort of Kartalova kashta;
  • Together we organized games of the “Hidden treasure hunt” type, where the riddles were of a historical nature (decoding secret messages, facts about Tsar Simeon, the legend of Radula, the icon of St. Theodore Startilatus, searching for information about the archbishop Mostich and the philosopher Diogenes, etc..etc.)
  • One of our Italian volunteers gave a demonstration for the townspeople who then kneaded their own pasta and took it home;
  • They held dinners to represent their countries;
  • They learned to weave baskets from the only remaining living craftsman in the area – Hassan Aga;
  • They attended the Traditions festival and talked about different historical periods and what they know and don’t know about world history in different countries;
  • They did photo shoots with costumes, weapons, and townspeople who collect artifacts from the past;
  • We held a meeting with museum workers from the Veliki Preslav Archaeological Museum, where we discussed good practices from museums around the world for working with the public, what the difficulties are and how to continue contact with the public even in a COVID situation;
  • With the support of the tourist association, they made a trip to “Okoto” in the area of ​​the village of Osmar, and later they visited Ivaylo’s home (from the Tourist Association) where they were treated to traditional meals and drinks.

The volunteers share how fascinated they are by the Bulgarian hospitality and warmth. Two of the families where they are accommodated – Svetlana and Krasi, and Maria and Stoyan – are extremely kind and helpful people. I respond to their needs and tell them about the city and the history.

V. Preslav gained new friends and ambassadors outside the borders of our country. In the last days of the project, we send you thanks and wish to meet again! In V.Preslav, in Sofia and in many other places around the world. With some of them we are already making plans for future projects, we will intensively develop a European network for the preservation and presentation of cultural heritage. And the youngsters traveled with a lot of custom, a YouthPass certificate, a Solidarity Corps certificate and a letter of recommendation to add to your personal portfolio.

Volunteers are the only human beings on Earth who reflect compassion, selfless care, patience and love to one another_ Erma Bromberg

The project is implemented with the support of the European Solidarity Corps Program of the EU, Veliki Preslav Municipality and Veliki Preslav Archaeological Museum.