On November 15, 2023, at the International Congress Center in Burgas, the Youth Forum “For Diversity, Against Discrimination” was held, dedicated to the International Day for Tolerance on November 16. The forum was opened by the director of the Youth International Center Burgas, Maria Salabasheva. She emphasized the key role of young people in building a tolerant society.
Forum participants had the opportunity to familiarize themselves, in accessible language, with key international and national documents related to tolerance policies and human rights. Knowing and applying tolerance-related policies gives young people the opportunity to change society and maintain unity in diversity.
Forum participants received information about the activities of organizations such as the Regional Roma Union Foundation – Burgas, the Animus Association Foundation, the “Balance” Association – Burgas, the Delfi Association for Strategic Management, the Astika Foundation, the Crocus Foundation, the Good Foundation, which advocate for tolerance policies, work to eradicate discrimination, and promote human rights.
The goal of the Youth Center team was to create a space for open dialogue for 170 participants, where everyone could express their opinions and hear the opinions of others.
The discussion panel explored the following types of tolerance: ethnic, personal, and moral. During the discussion panels, participants learned to see the richness of diversity, to recognize that each person is unique, and that respect for this uniqueness contributes to positive thinking. Participants also had the opportunity to self-analyze their stereotypes, prejudices, and biases. This helped them realize which factors could influence their opinions of others and learn to critically evaluate their own beliefs.
Part of the program was also aimed at developing intercultural communication skills among young people. They touched on interacting with people from different cultures in a culturally sensitive way, and joyfully noted that exposing diversity is enriching.
They also had the opportunity to learn about conflict resolution constructively. Participants received recommendations on conflict resolution based on the principles of constructive solutions, grounded in mutual understanding and respect for differences.
There was a lively and interesting concert part with the participation of colorful dance groups “Iglika” – Gabar village and “Low Dance” – Sunny Beach. Children and young people from different ethnic groups presented their cultures in the colors of traditional and contemporary dances.
The concert part concluded with the rhythms of the Bulgarian dance “Byala roza,” which once again showed us that art shapes a harmonious society.
After participating in the training, during the reflection, forum participants shared that they were left with a sense of deep change and an awareness of the importance of respecting differences.
The closing panel was not chosen randomly; the creative approach to tolerance training helps develop critical thinking and analytical skills, helping young people overcome stereotypes. The use of art can create a platform for discussing complex sociocultural issues, encouraging a deeper understanding of diversity.
Thanks to the participation of young people from PGChE “Vasil Levski” – Burgas, Trade High School – Burgas, Professional High School in Computer Programming and Innovation, NUMSI “Prof. Pancho Vladigerov” – Burgas, PGMEE – Burgas, Professional High School in Maritime Navigation and Fishing “St. Nikola,” Pgsi Penyo Penev, SU “St. St. Cyril and Methodius” Sozopol, PGRE “G. S. Rakovski” – Burgas, OU “Clement Ohridski” – Rudnik Quarter, PGT “Prof. Dr. Asen Zlatarov” Burgas, SU “Ivan Vazov” Burgas, Professional Technical High School, OU “Hristo Botev” village Zidarovo, as well as: Foundation “Regional Roma Union,” Association “Balance,” “Ukrainian Diaspora,” “Good Foundation,” dance groups “Iglika” – Gabar village and “Low Dance” – Sunny Beach!
* Project No. BGLD-2.001-0002 “Creation of the Youth International Center – Burgas” is implemented under the program “Local Development, Poverty Reduction, and Improved Inclusion of Vulnerable Groups,” funded by the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (EEA FM) 2014-2021.