Name of the organization: Bridges – Eastern European Forum for Dialogue
Brief description of the organization
Bridges – Eastern European Forum for Dialogue is an organisation, which aims at fostering peace and tolerance among members of diverse ethnic and religious minorities. Most of the activities carried out have the objective to achieve stable and harmonious relations between youngsters in the most important period when they develop their individuality. Four intercultural camps, interfaith concerts, as well as several multicultural exhibitions, have paved the path for the promotion of human rights, the protection of democracy by respecting individual freedoms and the appreciation of pluralism, which acts as an inspiration to embracing all of humanity.
Problem addressed by the good practice
Good practice aims to teach young people cooperation and equality. Through the intercultural camps, the organizers aim to 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 target group of the intercultural camp is young teenagers (13-17 years) of various faith background (Christian Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Armenian and Muslim).
Summary of the good practice
The pilot edition of the Bridge Intercultural Camp was held in 2016 with the financial support of the Municipality of Stara Zagora and URI Europe. Together with the young people, members from several Bulgarian URI Cooperation Circles (Trans Defi CC; Dialogue Center CC) and the Global Trustee Father Petar attended the camp and shared their interfaith experience.
Since then, every year in the middle of July, young teenagers of various faith gather together to spend 5 days in the BRIDGE – Intercultural camp in the modern International Youth Center, Stara Zagora. Within that period, children have a chance to learn about different religious traditions – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Islam, and Protestantism. They learn how to build together bridges of mutual understanding, tolerance and respect to the variety of faith traditions, generations and cultures. They learn how to live together, how to communicate and be more tolerant with “the other” as well as how to establish an intimate spiritual relationship with this community. A wide range of workshops (arts, crafts, music, etc.) and outdoor activities during the week enable the young participants to make friendships, cultivate their communication skills and share their cultures.
Since 2018, Bridge Intercultural Camp has been organized internationally and in two parts. URI Europe Cooperation Circles from Bulgaria and the Netherlands (BRIDGES CC and URI Netherlands CC) have started the idea of exchanged visits and together with Arigatou International turn it into reality. The first part of the camp is carried out in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria and the second part – The Hague, the Netherlands.
Last year’s edition of the camp took place in Plovdiv – 2019 European Cultural capital with the support of Municipality of Plovdiv, URI Europe, URI the Netherlands and private donors.
The Bridge Intercultural camp is an informal way of teaching young people to be more tolerant of other cultures and religions. By bringing teenagers with different religious backgrounds together, they can learn from each other and afterwards multiply the core messages of the initiative.
The Bridge Intercultural camp is a recurring event, which prepares young teenagers to get involved in interfaith work and enables them to experience interfaith leadership as they grow up. At the same time, the initiative aims to become a model, which can be multiplied not only across Bulgaria but also in other cross points of religions, cultures and spiritual traditions worldwide.