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Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union in 2007 ushered in a new era for the country: one that signaled the popular desire for democracy. Unfortunately this democratic system has had trouble overcoming the ethnic prejudices that have historically marginalized the Roma population and created two different Bulgarias. The Roma and Bulgarians must unify, mending the divide, in order for the nation to move forward toward progress. This unification must begin with understanding not only of ethnic differences, but also of commonalities, which will help to foster tolerance and acceptance.
The 2009 “Zaedno Mjoem Poveche” (Together We Can Do More) summer camp will successfully unite disenfranchised Roma youth with their Bulgarian counterparts. The participants will range from 11 to 16 years old, and gather for ten days to explore the concepts of culture and tolerance while fostering inter-cultural dialogue. This year’s camp will bring together 30 participants: 10 from a large city, 10 from a small, poor village with a large Roma population, and 10 peer educators selected based on leadership skills from last year’s camp.
To help the youth explore these areas, trained community volunteers will engage the participants in interactive sessions and discussion on these various topics. The open conversation created during this camp will help the participants become more culturally aware and sensitive, while also providing them with the ability to analyze the role ethnicity plays in society and the negative effects of an ethnically divided country.
Note: This summary was provided by a Peace Corps Volunteer and the community administering this project.
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