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“Art residency Iceland-Bulgaria” : our creative youth exchange!

From September 11th to 17th, the Youth International Center – Burgas welcomed special guests from Iceland. The group consisted of 11 Icelandic youth and two leaders from the youth exchange between the Youth Center Gleðibankinn in Reykjavik and Burgas. The exchange was held under the name “Creative Residency Iceland – Bulgaria.” The days of the international exchange were truly exciting – we managed to bring together the Icelandic and Bulgarian youth groups through interesting social activities and creative teamwork.

On September 12th, our first day with the Icelandic youth and Bulgarian participants began. During the initial hours together, youth workers Ventsi and Zhu facilitated ice-breaking activities among the youth. These activities helped create a pleasant and inclusive atmosphere. The young people got to know each other, shared their first impressions of their national cultures, and established new social contacts. In the afternoon, we turned our focus to exploring Burgas. All participating youth joined in a fun treasure hunt through the city’s streets. Bulgarian youth helped the Icelanders learn about the city’s most famous places and personalities, as well as how to reach key points in Burgas – the Sea Garden, the Clock, the Central Streets “Aleksandrovska” and “Bogoridi,” and the Municipality.

The second day of the international exchange was dedicated to creative activities aimed at improving communication, initiative, and teamwork skills. The activities were led by youth workers Rusen and Maria, who directed their efforts toward preparing creative activities. The youth worked in teams, with each team having a common task – to create a comic on the theme of “Icelandic and/or Bulgarian superhero(es).” The activity aimed to awaken the creative spirit in the youth, helping them think in a direction where they could combine knowledge of their national cultures and recognize the “superpowers” of their “heroes.”

On September 14th, together with the Icelandic and Bulgarian youth, we visited the old town of Nessebar. We strolled through the streets of the beautiful town, explored its sights, enjoyed the sea, the pleasant September weather, and the delicious food. After the walk, we relaxed with a special surprise for the Icelanders – a crazy day at Aqua Park Nessebar.

The morning of September 15th was free time for the Icelandic youth, while the afternoon was reserved for a boat trip to St. Anastasia Island. Bulgarian and Icelandic youth enjoyed a pleasant boat trip to the island, listened to a lecture on the history of this exotic corner of Burgas, and explored its landmarks. After the trip, we visited the Pobeda district with the youth, aiming to learn more about the Roma community with whom we work.

September 16th marked the last day of the Icelandic youth’s visit. To bid them farewell in style, we organized a karaoke party. It was a huge success! Bulgarian and Icelandic youth had a lot of fun, learned to dance Bulgarian folk dances and sirtaki, and danced to their favorite songs.

The Creative Youth Residency was an event on our calendar that taught us a lot. It showed us that the informal environment and creative activities are a good way for active youth socialization. In an inclusive atmosphere, everyone has the opportunity to express themselves creatively and positively, to be more initiative, to create sustainable contacts, and to learn more effectively how to work with others.

*Project No. BGLD-2.001-0002 “Establishment of the Youth International Center – Burgas” is implemented under the “Local Development, Poverty Reduction, and Enhanced Inclusion of Vulnerable Groups” program, funded by the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (EEA FM) 2014-2021.