The Kick-off meeting of the Capacity building project “EntreprenEUrship for CultYOUre” (EU4YOU), hosted by Active Bulgarian Society (ABS) in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria finished on Friday, Jan. 26. During the last seven days (Jan. 20-26) social workers from eight different organizations in Vietnam, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania and France shared good practices from their own communities, discussed problematic topics in the scope of youth work and constructed a plan for the future development of the project. The event gave the beginning to a two-year-long collaboration between the partner organizations for the purpose of community service in the field of social and cultural entrepreneurship.
“As nowadays public funding is decreasing, our organization and the partners in this project are willing to find alternative ways of supporting the private sector,” said Veronique Bertholle, Secretary General of Youth Express Network (Y-E-N) which is co-coordinating the project together with ABS. “Social entrepreneurship is a reality which responds to the need of change and I believe we need to be prepared for it. It’s good we have two years for that.”
During the kick-off meeting, all of the partner organizations involved in the project consented that a primary goal of the future activities would be social enterprises to be created in each and every targeted country. For this purpose, a Toolkit on social entrepreneurship and cultural management will be developed which is going to give practical directions to young people how to create, manage and sustain an enterprise.
Apart from the Toolkit, the partners are to create an online platform including reports of the project activities, as well as workshops on the topic of social and cultural entrepreneurship open for the youth in each and every country targeted by the project. In October and November 2018 there will be an exchange of social workers between the partner organizations with the purpose of job shadowing. Thus, the good practices will be transmitted to the different communities and a sustainable partnership will be built.
“The Job shadowing will surely enrich the work of our organization,” said Carlos Espinoza, National Director of Activities at Brigada de Voluntarios Bolivarianos del Peru in Peru. “It is a way for us to involve in the project as many participants from our team as possible and to try practices that do not exist in our social environment.”
The kick-off meeting of the project was merged with a seminar on social and cultural entrepreneurship which opened doors for discussion on the topics of youth unemployment, disengagement of young people in social and governmental issues, ways of sustaining micro-corporations, migration processes and their impact on the economy, etc. Tanya and Nikolai Kukolevi were invited as guest-speakers who presented good practices of cultural management in the scope of social entrepreneurship from Blagoevgrad region.
During the seminar, the participants collaborated in small groups and eventually developed five ideas for social enterprises which were later presented to all partners and discussed in detail.
In addition to all of the discussions, debates and project management, the partners were provided with various opportunities for team-building. International evening, a trip to Rila monastery, performances of folklore and contemporary music were only some of the activities that created an environment of cultural exchange.
“It’s comforting to see that all the partners are into the project, have so many suggestions and are willing to work with each other,” shared Bertholle. “Now that we know each other, the project is finally taking the form of a living being, ready to operate.”
"The seminar of the capacity building project “EntreprenEUrship for CultYOUre” (EU4YOU) took place the last month (date) in Cancun, Mexico. Once again get together partners from the eight organizations that participate in this project YEN (France), BIC (Greece), SES (Argentina), Active Youth (Lithuania), ABS (Bulgaria), IIC (Mexico), CSDS (Vietnam) and BVBP (Peru).
This event is the continuation of the two year project wich start whit the kick-off meeting last January in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.
During this seminar all the volunteers participated in a very active way and focused on developing content that would contribute to achieve the goals set by the project. One of the most important objectives is to make content for young entrepreneurs, materials and information that will provide them with the knowledge and tools necessary for them to start their projects.
The participants worked to create and prepare material for four workshops that will be taught in each of the host cities of the organizations, these workshops will focus on topics such as: Developing ideas for cultural entrepreneurship, Cultural management, Strategic planning in cultural entrepreneurship and Fundraising.
With these workshops it is expected to provide information, techniques and examples of good practices to people interested in the topic of cultural entrepreneurship.
Another important topic was the jobshadowing, where two participants from each of the organizations will visited another organization in order to work together for the development of the toolkit, but also to know the work of the NGO host, the cultural and social aspect of the country they visit; This is an important part of the project because it is where the cultural exchange takes place and help in the develop of the participants."
JOB SHADOWING in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.
Host: Active Bulgarian Society- Bulgaria (ABS)
Participants Gissela Vernet from Argentina and Leslie Soto from Mexico
Duration: 8-21 October 2018
During the period 8 - 21 October 2018 Active Bulgarian Society (ABS) hosted 2 Job Shadowers (one from Mexico and one from Argentina) of the Capacity building project “EntreprenEUrship for CultYOUre” (EU4YOU), in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.
EU4YOU is an initiative financially supported by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Commission, that aims to provide young people of different status and cultural background with training in the field of entrepreneurship. Its main objective is to foster entrepreneurial skills and mindsets to the young people who are excluded from the labor market and to direct the artistic potential of youth into sustainable community service.
Project number: 589943-EPP- 1-2017- 1-FR- EPPKA2-CBY- ACPALA
Lots of laughs, seeing old friends, meeting new people and more happened during this two amazing weeks that we stayed in the beautiful city of Blagoevgrad.
Since the moment Gisela and me, Leslie, met at the Barajas Madrid Airport on Sunday evening, traveling together to Sofia Aiport, we became inseparable partners.
We learned a lot about Active Bulgarian Society (ABS) which was our host organization, formed by two amazing coordinators Kiril, Ivan and six volunteers from different countries… We became great friends with two of them, Amal and Manou from France.
Activities inside the office or Blagoevgrad:
We developed two interesting cultural and social events:
“The Chat Club Che-Chilango”, which was a presentation about our culture (Argentina and Mexico). Our audience was really participative and interested in our topic. Also, we prepared guacamole and they loved it! During this activity we noticed that most of what they knew was about soccer players and drug trafficking.
While creating the presentation and in the beginning of it, I, Gisela, felt really concerned about how I will be able to do it, because I don't speak english fluently. However, when I started to talk and saw that everyone was trying to understand me and also my partner Leslie helped me to translate my ideas, I felt comfortable and proud of my participation.
This pleasant evening finished with our guests dancing our typical dances, like TANGO, HUAPANGO, BANDA… Everyone was really interested in getting to know more about our culture and it was a big encouragement to do our best effort! This night was amazing.
On Thursday 18 We held the Human Library activity at the American University of Bulgaria
As the name implies, each participant presented a topic to the students who approached them.
About the program EU4YOU Leslie presented, in English, the objectives of the Job Shadowing
Stage: experiences, learnings and Gisela presented in Spanish and Italian EU4YOU: its goals,
participating organizations, participating countries as well as stages and workshops of cultural
For the preparation and practice of the activity we made an acting of the exhibition, in front of
the colleagues of the office, in order to receive a feedback before presenting it to the students.
During the activity, young university students participated and additionally families and children
who spending their leisure time in the park were able to appreciate the activity and taste juices
Activities outside Blagoevgrad:
On the weekend of October 13 and 14, together with the French volunteers of ABS, we visited Plovdiv. This city is one of the oldest known throughout the world, its history started more than 6000 years ago.
We visited the old city, which is on top of a hill and all the architecture is very colorful and unique and also the ancient Roman theater of Plovdiv from the 2nd century that was built on the natural hillside of Taksim and Dzambaz hills.
And finally, the Roman stadium in Kapana which is located in the center of the modern city, right next to the Dzhumaya mosque. It was a great experience and the city is very beautiful. We really enjoyed our trip there, already hoping to be able to travel there again!
In the afternoon we visited the offices where Plovdiv European Capital of Culture is organized. This city is the first Bulgarian city chosen as the European capital of culture, this amazing and prestigious event will be held in 2019. New opportunities are offered throughout the project for the development of the city, furthermore a new international visibility and a perspective of Bulgarian culture. The program which has been prepared 4 years in advance includes a variety of activities with more than 300 selected projects and almost 500 events. During this visit we interviewed Mr. Franz, who received us in his office with great kindness and good vibes, he told us about this fantastic project.
Mr. Franz has a Master's degree in International Relations and is the coordinator of the project's volunteer area. He told us that since his inception until they have received more than 800 volunteers.
The best advice that he told us was “In life there will always be ups and downs, so enjoy everything you do, be happy and proud of it.”
Razlog is a little town with 15,000 citizens, it is 40 minutes away
from Blagoevgrad. We went there for two reasons:
I (Leslie) went there to meet David, project coordinator and Kostadinka
founder of IIC, the organization I am coordinating in Mexico.
Also to see and learn how another ONG works in Bulgaria, how they
develop social and cultural events related to the topic we are working
with in EU4YOU.
IIC Razlog office was colorful and big enough for having 15 volunteers
(from all Europe) working with them, one of their activities is to develop
the schedule of the month, they are very active and participative.
About the IIC organizations in Razlog
The IIC organization has an office with a large room for various activities. We met 15 volunteers from Spain, France, Germany, Croatia, Belgium and Georgia, who participated in planning the activities.
The working methodology they use is non-formal education, which helps the training of volunteers, the organisation of work and the office.
As a model of cultural entrepreneurship, we saw in Kostadinka a very active entrepreneur in Vania, her hometown. We were able to visit the amphitheater built in the Roman baths (a historical monument) that Kostadinka asked the municipality to build. Concerts and shows for the whole community take place in this theater.
What Most Called Our Attention in Bulgaria
When they mean yes with the head, they say NO and when they mean no with the
head they say YES
Bulgaria has a great variety of desserts!
Everyone dress really elegant.
Many foreigners choose Bulgaria to live or study.
Job shadowing learns
It was a great experience for us to be able to share the day to day with active bulgaria. In the office the working climate is pleasant and unlike our countries very quiet which creates a good working atmosphere.
To work day by day exchanging and sharing between two very different forms of work and cultures (Fundación ses and IIC) was also a lot of learning.
We were able to learn about their activities, work methodology and intervention spaces by participating in them (chat club and human library) and their target audiences.
Bulgarians are hard-working and enterprising people.
To know a culture very different from ours.
In Gisela's case to be able to understand and practice English.
Job Shadowing in Hanoi, Vietnam
Host - Center for Sustainable Development Studies(CSDS)
Participant: Eugene Karanasios from Greece
Duration 10-31st October 2018
The Vietnam experience!
A job shadowing adventure to remember for years to come.
From the 10th to the 31st of October 2018 I had the pleasure to be a guest of CSDS and the stunning country of Vietnam. I spent most of my time there in the buzzing city of Hanoi, in the very north of the country, surrounded by amazing people and approximately 5 million motorcycles! (the preferred method of transportation for most of the vietnamese people).
From my first day there I was made to feel at home by Que, Hung and the rest of the team and volunteers, and I was given the opportunity to get a taste of the local culture and beautiful work performed by CSDS.
Life in Vietnam
There are a few things in Vietnam that really stood out to me: The hospitality, the amazing views and nature and the oh-so-delicious food that can be found in every corner!
In my two day trip to Sapa valley I hiked between the massive rice fields and saw how this plant becomes the most popular food for millions of locals. I tasted the food and wine that comes from it, and tried my best at the favourite pastime of the vietnamese: Karaoke! - something that really helped me understand the basics of the language that I tried so hard to be a little decent with in my short time in Vietnam.
In my other trip I visited Halong Bay and Ninh Binh and was mesmerized by the vast and breathtaking natural environment that Vietnam has to offer. Cycling in Ninh Binh and sleeping to the sounds of the forest was something that I will never forget.
Hanoi has a certain quality to it. There are cozy little cafes and busy street food vendors in every street, people wearing smiles and colourful clothes and so many things to see that is almost impossible to do in a couple of weeks. The food there really made an impression to me. I tried to taste every possible food and try all the fruits that I could! There I had another go of karaoke with a big group of people from CSDS. I can now say that I have a favourite vietnamese song that I can’t wait to sing again when I return to Vietnam.
Being hosted by CSDS I had the opportunity to take part in various activities and understand the methodologies used by the organization. It was interesting to see the way such a large organization works, with a big team and a constant flow of volunteers that work and live in their building. I took part in one of their group interviews that led to them hiring a new intern
and appreciated their passion and decision making process.
In my time there I visited a few social enterprises and even tried my hand in making some art with repurposed fabrics. Notably:
-Dao’s Care: A spa that employs visually impaired therapists (that they train themselves), that also supports the Red Dao ethnic minority. They operate as a social business and started with no outside funding, growing rapidly and even relocating to a brand new and bigger space this year. I enjoyed an amazing massage there and had a long chat with the owner who helped me understand how they run their business.
-Vun Art: A social enterprise located in the famous Van Phuc silk village, one of the oldest handicraft villages in Vietnam. They create employment opportunities for people with disabilities and train them to create beautiful art using silk scraps that would have been otherwise discarded. They sell the art in many gift shops and airports and organize workshops where people can create their own. I had the opportunity to talk to the owners and staff and was inspired by their passion and creativity. I was also given some instructions and, with help from Hung, managed to create my own little silk-collage painting.
-Tohe Style: A social enterprise that provides a creative
learning playground for disadvantaged children to play
and learn. Selected artworks from these art classes
are redesigned and printed on lifestyle products such as:
clothes, accessories, homeware, etc. branded under the
name Tohe and distributed in Vietnam and internationally.
A portion of the profits is used to help these disadvantaged
children in various ways.
There are about 10.000km that separate my hometown to Hanoi. The climate, culture, nature and everyday life in Vietnam is so different to what I have seen before. I loved everything about my experience and that is also due to the amazing hospitality by CSDS and their people.
Job shadowing in Strasbourg France
Host - Youth Express Network (YEN)
Duration - 15-26 November 2018
Participant Thuy Nguyen – Vietnam , Maximiliano Schier - Argentina
I had the opportunity to join the Job Shadowing program with an adorable hosting organization – Youth Express Network (YEN). YEN team organized the program so well that I and Maximiliano could enjoy every single moment that we had with so many interesting site visits and useful information.
The very first thing impressed me was the way YEN welcomed me upon my arrival in Strasbourg. Although I arrived a bit late in the evening, Vero and Maximiliano (another Job Shadower) were there to welcome me, take me to the accommodation, and then we went out for late dinner together. It was such a good start for the coming 13 days being with YEN team.
YEN is located in the center of Strasbourg, a small but charming and lovely city. Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region of France and is most widely known for hosting a number of important European institutions. It is also famous for its beautiful historical center - the Grande Île - which was the first city center to be classified entirely as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. We had the opportunity to learn more about the city and its history with the City Rally Challenge which was so much fun and fascinating. We were given a map with direction and destinations to go to, as well as find out more information about those places by answering the given questions. I’d love to express my sincere thanks to YEN team for being so organized and thoughtful in planning our activities for the Job Shadowing plan.
YEN team was not so big, with 5 full-time lovely staff at office in
Strasbourg, yet they performed as such as great team. In order to
help me and Maximiliano understand the vision, missions and project
of YEN, they spent an afternoon presenting the organization and the
office for us. In addition, the tentative schedule of our 2 -week program
was introduced carefully on this first day. Basically, we planned the first
week to pay visits to different non-profit organizations (NPO) in
Strasbourg and the second week for the social/cultural enterprises
in the city. Thank to this plan, we have the opportunity to have more
information about the foundation, missions and operation of many
NPOs working in different fields, such as Education, Training and
Inclusion, Sports, Economic and Local Development, Action Charity,
Access to Rights, Leisure, etc.
With YEN team
The highlight of the program was the second week with visits to different social enterprises in Strasbourg which brought me so much knowledge and aspirations.
At first, we were introduced about L’Etage as a social restaurant for disadvantage local people to come and enjoy meals for free or with low price. The food there was so good that we decided to have lunch and dinner there in 2 weeks. Going there, we had the opportunity to meet so many lovely people at different ages and working at different fields with different life stories. The one impressed me the most is Laura who used to be one of the participants of YEN’s project. According to her, YEN offered her a life-changing experience and motivation to pursue her education and dream again. She kept talking highly about YEN and Strasbourg. She welcomed and waited us every day to enjoy meal with us and willing to give us a hand if we were in need. She had studied English for 2 years and tried to speak English with us as much as possible. She can be considered an ambassador of YEN and a typical case to show the efforts and achievements of YEN with the community.
Moreover, YEN organized a cooking session for us at L’Etage to prepare lunch at the restaurant. We were instructed and supported by Wilma, who used to be a great Chef, and then was a member of the board of management of L’Etage. Only when did we realized that L’Etage was more than just a social restaurant. L’Etage was founded in 1981 and operated as a social work center to support disadvantage people in Strasbourg. They provided free language classes, trainings, consultancy and social restaurant. Every year, thousands of people joined various services provided by L’Etage and nearly 600 of them were using the legal postal address of L’Etage for their personal communication. Over the past ten years, L’Étage has expanded its services to new audience, while remaining mostly focused on young adults. Their actions now reach families and isolated people of all ages, especially project to provide them accommodation, access to standard health care or support for parenting.
Dinner with Laura and Celine at L’Etage
Exhibition to raise the awareness about discrimination
This exhibition was organized in 1 months by Municipality of Strasbourg and an NGO. The exhibition was a series of interactive activities for visitors to experience and have reflection about discrimination: what is discrimination? Your roles and responsibilities to be against to it. Most visitors of this exhibition were students who came in their school trips. By the end of the exhibition, these was a dialogue among the city leader and volunteers of the NGO/campaign about the benefits of this project and plan to make it as a permanent or long-term project of the city.
This social enterprise was founded in 1997 with the purpose of improving social inclusion for disadvantaged people. The organization provides its member with training course to make products from recycled materials (coffee bag, plastic banners, tires, woods, carton boxes, etc.). At the beginning of its foundation, the project’s beneficiaries were people who had been in prison and needed support to integrate to society and earn for their living. Now it is supporting people referred by job centers or social workers. They are individuals who have been unemployed for at least 1 year, have limited allowance from the government (under 400Euro/month) or disabled people. With the current capacity, Libre Objet can accommodate maximum 20 people at a time, and 40 people in a year. When they come to Libre Objet, they will sign a work contract with commitment of working maximum 26 hours/week. The schedule is flexible for them to balance their daily life and training/working at Libre Objet. The contract can be from 4 months to 2 years, plus 6-month follow-up after the contract ends. I was inspired by the way Libre Objet team commit themselves with their activities and their effort to support disadvantaged individuals to have a better life.
With the Director of Libre Objet
In addition to the above organizations, my program was filled with joys and excitement by many other visits that I cannot list down all. After this program, I have realized that a project can start from a very small activity with your kindness put in it “No act of kindness, no matter is small, is ever wasted”
Job shadowing in Buenos Aires
Host - FUNDACIóN SUSTENTABILIDAD, EDUCACIóN Y SOLIDARIDAD(SES)
Duration - 1-21 December 2018
Participant Ivan Kitanov – Bulgaria , Tomek Jenkielewicz - Lithuania
Hi everyone we are Ivan and Tomas from Bulgaria and Lithuania. We represent Active Bulgarian Sociaty and Active Youth Association. We are in Buenos Aires for a Job Shadowing of EU4YOU project (its capacity building project in the field of youth, funded by the European Commission).
The project EU4YOU aims to develop innovative complementary pathways for boosting the employability of young people through social youth entrepreneurship and providing them with tools for cultural entrepreneurship in particular.
So far we have visited 3 youth clubs in different (disadvantaged) areas of Buenos Aires.
We saw how volunteers and the youth
worker of foundation SES work
with youth from disadvantaged background
(In particular youth aged from 6 to 14 years old)
Our first visited youth club was in La Boca, were we went with volunteer from Italy. In that youth club we had a chance interact with kids, play different games together, teach them Basic English, Mathematics. Meanwhile we also learned some Spanish words.
On the other day we went to a project called La Sartén por el Mango, where we were cooked and used the non-formal methods of education on work with kids. The project is supported by Ses foundation and implemented together with the mothers of some of children who are coming to the club on daily basis. The mother are raising money from cooked food (they are selling it). In this youth club they have 2 volunteers from Germany. Kids who are coming to this club are taught of a basic hygienic habits, respect, inclusion and heathy lifestyle.
We still have a few days to discover the work of Ses organization and learn more about Argentinian culture…
Job shadowing in Lima Peru
Host - Brigada de Voluntarios Bolivarianos del Peru
Duration - November 2018
Participant Margaux Dos Santos - Youth Express Network - France Deivydas Čepas - Active Youth - Lithuania
Job shadowing in Mexico
Host - International Initiative for Cooperacion -MX
Duration - 30 October - 20 November 2018
Participant Emmeline Kuhn - Youth Express Network - France
Job shadowing in Greece
Host - BUSSINES AND INNOVATION CENTER OF SERRES- BIC
Duration - 24 October - 7 November 2018
Participant CARLOS MEJÍA - BVBP - PERU
Job shadowing in Lithuania
Host - Active Youth - Latvia
Duration - 24 October - 7 November 2018
Participant Thao & Gabriela Gonzalez-Polar A - Vietnam & Peru