Last week I had my first youth exchange experience, in Romania and it was amazing. We were with 54 participants from eight different countries: Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Italy, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Kosovo and I joined the Bulgarian team. We were all working together in this project for 10 days, to develop a performance, in which we had to show the unfair way racism, discrimination, stereotypes, and prejudgments could affect the most important parts of our life. But besides working on this performance we had a lot of time to get to know each other, our countries and different cultures.
We did a lot of energizers and some games related to the topic of our exchange, combating racism in Europe by Art and Theatre. One of the games was a story about a girl named Abigail. Abigail lived on one side of the river and her boyfriend Sam at the other shore. Abigail visited her friend everyday by using the bridge, until the bridge was destroyed by a flood one day. A sailor came to Abigail and offered her a sail to Sam, but only if she slept with him. Abigail went
to her mother to ask her for advice, and her mother told her that she was old enough to make her own decisions. . Abigail took the boat, and told Sam what she had done, on which Sam slapped her in the face. Sam’s best friend, who had a crush on Abigail saw this and slapped Sam in the face. After this story we had to work in groups and debate on who was most guilty and who was less guilty in this story. It was very interesting to see that everybody in our group had common values of what is right and wrong, but also some significant differences. In my group, for example, was an Italian girl who found the mother most guilty in this situation, because she did not protect her daughter. We talked a lot together and in the end she realised that it was only her Italian background, that makes her judges the mother in that way. Furthermore, we talked about the relation between stereotypes, prejudgment, discrimination and self-
fulfilling prophecy. We discussed this topic in many situations, but the one about the Roma’s, was the most intense discussion, because it is a big issue in the Balkans. A new insight on this topic for me was the realisation that even positive stereotypes always end with something negative, because it creates too high expectations.
Working on the performance was fun, and although it was raining during the performance we still had a nice small audience. What I
liked the most about this exchange where the cultural nights, where everybody was presenting their country, with food (drinks), music, videos and dances. It was always amazing and a good opportunity to get to know new people and cultures. We also did some sightseeing, we have been to a monastery, a pottery, to moving stones, to a very big salt mine, to Bucharest and only our Bulgarian team to Ruse. I am really going to miss the people and the
positive vibe we had during our exchange. But luckily I will see some of them soon, for we will go together to the Rose Festival in Shipka! 🙂