Youth connect across cultures during Interfaith Camp

What brings us together in the diversity of the cultural traditions in which we are born? Can we say that we know others as well as ourselves, so that we respect the peculiarities of their religion and respect their beliefs? What can I give of myself to participate in this camp?

All of these questions were answered by 16 children, aged 11 to 15, during the second edition of the Bridges-Between-Cultures project for another year in Stara Zagora, Southern Bulgaria.

With the help of the municipality of Stara Zagora, and with the help of Mrs. Ivanka Sotirova and Mr. Angel Filipov, municipal councilor, the camp is already part of the cultural calendar of the municipality. The East European Forum for Bridges Dialogue, headed by Angelina Vladikova and Svetlana Karadjova, gathered children participants this year from Sofia, Rousse, Veliko Tarnovo, Belitsa, Harmanli and Plovdiv. The participating children were born and educated in different cultural circles, including Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian and Bulgarian-Mohammedan communities. These five days will provide them with opportunities to find out how they can enrich each other and create a wonderful world in common.

During the camp, the participants will have the opportunity to get acquainted with the cultural and religious monuments in and around Stara Zagora. They will meet with representatives of the religious communities in the area and actively participate in workshops and practical activities. The group will spend one day in Kazanlak with a visit to the Rose Museum, the Kazanlak tomb, and a few hours with the poets secaleans in the Catholic church of St. Joseph.

As part of the program, there will be a visit to the Regional History Museum, the Orthodox Church of St. Dimitar, and the Religious Museum (Eski Mosque) - a holy place that has been a temple of different religions over the centuries. At each place, the children will meet a representative of the respective religious community.

A direct, two-hour conference will be held with KidSpirit's international online youth platform, with children familiar with the organization's activities, and the participants will be invited to join the team of young writers for online media.

The last night, the children will enjoy the "Bread of Friendship" together with Ralitsa Georgieva from "The Bread House". At the time of the camp, children will have the opportunity to shoot different moments and will try to assemble a 10-minute movie together that will be screened for the first time at the cinema of our Ethnosworld partners on July 20th.

Now, more than ever, we need examples to show and teach the next generation of how to live together with the "other", and how to create a modern society free of stereotypes and prejudices. The aim of our initiative is to place the focus on commonalities which unite us, to build bridges between the different religious traditions in the country, and to cooperate in various social and socially important causes. 

We believe that Bridges-Between-Cultures is just the beginning of a larger intercultural project geared towards the young, upcoming generation of Bulgaria and the Balkans.

Funding for the project is mainly provided by donors. We give thanks for the hospitality of Stara Zagora, for the generous support of Dr. Milen Vrabevski, for the Bulgarian Memory Foundation; Thank the United Religions Initiative (URI) and the partners from Smolyan. Thank you to Kalina Borissova Photo Studio for her readiness to give us images of the initiative with her masterful photographs! We would like to thank Stara Zagora companies who are again giving their hand to the event. With so many people who cooperate and put their hand out in a difficult moment, the hope that human goodness can be united in difference, expands and gives us the strength to continue.

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