Тhe longest week in my new life

       author: Angie, a volunteer from Italy,   4 November 2017

The longest week in my life (since I arrived in Bulgaria), was three weeks ago.

OPEN SPACE foundation, the organization I’m working for as a volunteer, organized and hosted a training course called “Freedom of (Hate) Speech”, here in Sofia.

We all, as volunteers, were invited to take part in the course, but me, as part of my work, i helped in the organization “field”. I typed it correctly, my dears, it was sort of a war field for me. I will tell you the story, off course, if you keep your patience for a little while.

First, as in every story, this one has a setting too: Sofia city, Bulgaria, in the National Training Center for Olympics, that hosted our participants and our course.

After more than one week spent in answering emails, and after some “trip” from the airport to the Training Center, walking the participants safely in place, the real work begun.

Now, as an explanation, i must say i was never, never in my whole life, in charge for any kind of organization process; only exception for this role were, off course, parties. I’ve hosted the most famous Halloween’s and Carnival’s party in “history”, during university, but i have never ever tried myself with the real responsibilities of an adult job in this respect before. To deal with important things, like tickets and timings and money refunds made me, suddenly, an adult.

It was not pleasant, not easy, not at all my idea of fun. But it was important.

Actually, for me as a person, for my personal improvement as an “wanna be adult” person, this sudden and unwanted (in the first moment) amount of responsibilities,  was more instructive than the actual training. Because, honestly, if you want to really do something useful for your environment, if you want to become a better human being, you should first of all learn how to put other people’s needs before yours, at least sometimes.

This is the meaning i give to the expression “being adult”. I come to believe that everyone can speak about love, but it means nothing if we keep living our lives as self-reported egoists.

I feel the need to be totally honest in this respect, i never liked those kind of people that spend their time talking other people about “love”. In my personal, and punky, idea, love is mostly related to one’s family, friends and closed circle of people. Love is not, again in my opinion, the answer for every problem in the world. I don’t believe that the hate (speech) problem would be ever solved just sitting in circles and talking good words one to the other. I actually believe in actions. But talking is not, and never would be, a real action.

So, as a summary for this experience, i am happy i took part in it, totally. Not because of the games or the talking, but because i really felt different, after it, as a person.

To still be myself, unchanged in my personality, but in the same moment improved, more self confident about my skills than i used to be, was a real gift for me. Because i really want to be an adult, a caring and acting person, an accountable one. I want to actually make a change, not only speak about doing something. Maybe, i’ll never be able to gracefully accept a compliment in public, but this is not a priority. This is not a reason for one’s life. I don’t think that my way will ever change, but my perception of the reality is already changed, and that is the only thing that matters, i believe.

I can be a hard one, and also this will never change, but i could use it, this criticism ability i have by nature, to help the others. At least, to do something practical.

And yes, I’ve learn sarcasm from Wilde and stubbornness from my mother and i will never be able to just say “let’s make love not war”, never in my life. But this doesn’t mean I’m a bad person or a useless one. This i have learn, during the most long week of my new life: i don’t need to change. I don’t need to fake a different personality just to be accepted. I don’t need to change in order to fit in every environment. You can also not fit. Is normal. To win hate, in his different forms, the most important thing to learn is to love, yes, love, one’s self. We all can be useful, make an actual difference and be the better version of ourselves, and we don’t need to fake nothing to reach this important result. We are a key to overcome hate, only if we firstly admit the existence of hate. Even inside the back of our souls. We cannot be saints, nor we need to be smiling clowns in every moment of our life. We only need to be humans and, even more important, our real selves.


Learning to learn

(could be painful but) it’s worty.

               author: Angie, a volunteer from Italy,     2 October 2017

Hello everybody, I’m Angie, from Open Space Foundation, working on the No Hate Speech Project.

Lately, I have been introducing myself this way so many times that it has become a second nature.

Still, what does it mean for me? Most part of my life, I was an enthusiastic participant in women rights and LGBTQ community movements, but this is the first time that my standing on social rights field is not only a personal thing, it’s a job.

To work in the No Hate Speech project is slowly, but persistently, changing my ways.

In the first moment, it was really hard for me, and I’m going to tell you the tale of my own changing:

Leaving aside the linguistic difficulties I’ve faced in the first moments, forced to express myself in English, forced to leave behind me all the colorful metaphors of my beloved Italian, I’ve learn an important lesson: the way you express yourself is at least as much important as the things you want to say. But how did I came to realize it?

It was during one of our meetings; our group, both EVS’s and Bulgarian volunteers in the team, were spitted into little groups with the “mission” to product something concrete on the topic of No Hate Speech.

My group choose to create a Facebook page, called “Inclusion begins with I”, (here) about the really interesting topic of being included in our environment and society, the problems which may prevent us to feel part of it, and, of course, about how we make the others feel.

To create the page itself was easy: I’ve been studding journalism and creative writing almost all my life and one of the girls in the team, Shamusa, is a real Photoshop and In-design magician.

The problem, first time in my life, were the contents: I needed to change completely my normally harsh way in specking out my mind, according to the topic.

Never, before this moment, I’ve spent so much time mumbling words in my mouth, considering if and how it would have been better to find some synonymous or phrasal construction instead of one other.  This was the moment I realized how many war related metaphors I normally use in conversation and how cynical I can actually sound.

Being a young punk girl, back in the high school times, I’ve faced some “hate speech” problems and, mostly, I’ve had problems fitting in into my own environment. So, the topic was in a way related to my own experiences. Still, it cared my heart to prevent myself from shouting out every time we were discussing about a post on the page.

“come on”, I’ve heard my inner self saying “I’m not here to cuddle anyone”.

Only with days, working on it and listening to the other members of my group, i finally saw it in another light: to help people, according to our little possibilities and influence, is not just “cuddling” anybody. Yes, I’ve find my way out of the dark spot all alone, but it doesn’t mean i can not help people to feel even a little better. It was an important lesson to me, to become more tolerant, to have more patience, and to actually try harder understanding different points of view.

Now, I’m happy I’ve been part of this project.

To create the page, to deal with it, helped me find another side of my personality.

I’ve helped my self while trying to help others and I must say it feels good.

By now, the page is someone else responsibility, but I’m very glad i took part in it’s “birth” moment.

I invite you to visit it on Facebook, together with the other one, about stereotype origins and persistence in society, that other two talented volunteers of the Open Space Foundation have made: Plamen and Rosy created a really sharp, good looking and contentful page about stereotypes, touching the topic with classy style.


Take a look on both of them, on Facebook. They are just a first try, but in the same way the represent a big lesson in life. For me, at least.

Hoping not to sound too dramatic, i would like to cheer you good by with one of my favorite quotations: “the only frightening thing in life is fear itself”. So, don’t have fears and just try something new: it will make you a remastered/ better version of yourself.


ИЗКУСТВОТО Е ВРЪЗКАТА МЕЖДУ НАС или какво се случва в кв.Надежда?

          автор: Анджи, доброволец от Италия,    25 септември 2017

Какво беше най-силното ви, непозволено желание като дете? Ако не броим невъзможната ми мечта да изям всичкия шоколад на света, моето беше да рисувам по стени. Естествено, няма майка, която би позволила на детето си да направи това… освен ако не живееш в квартал Надежда, в София.
И ето, че в сегашния прекрасен момент, нашата организация Open Space foundation и доброволците ни Ieva Kirma and Florentyna Macioszczyk, работят заедно с прекрасните български художици Вени и Иванка да преобразят един от градските трафопостове в Надежда. Децата от квартала (ах, как им завиждам!) имат прекрасната възможност да им помогнат и да изпълнят своите такива желания.

Project “Freedom of (Hate) Speech” – painting public wall with local people


В началото, идеята да работят по стената на трафопоста беше леко плашеща за доброволците ни – все пак не всеки ден човек има възможността да покрие публично пространство с всевъзможни цветове без да нарушава закона. Едно гласче в ума ни все ни напомня за лицата на родителите ни първия път, когато изпробвахме новия си пастел на стената на кухнята, и ни казват да не пробваме подобно нещо отново. През повечето време, ако искаш да внесеш цвят в света, трябва да се криеш в тъмните часове на нощта и още по-тъмните кътче на града, надявайки се да не привлечеш вниманието на полицията.

Този път обаче, всичко бе позволено! При това на открито… и може би точно това бе най-страшното – доброволците се притесняваха за хората. Искаха жителите на квартала да харесат работата им.

Прекараха доста време да мислят за перфектното нещо, което да украси трафопоста и създадоха множество различни проекти. Единствената насока, която имаха в работата си беше да намерят начин да предадат посланието на нашия проект FREEDOM OF (HATE) SPEECH”, и като използват изкуството си, да покрият огромното количество свастики и обидни думи намиращи се на „тяхната“ стена.

В крайна сметка се реши стената да се раздели на три и да се изрисуват три различни, но смислово свързани „истории“ за толерантност и разбиране. Целта бе не само да „скрият“ изразите на омраза, но и да покажат, че добри неща могат да се появят дори от лошите.Че реакцията към омразата може всъщност да бъде цветущо изразяване на таланти и вярвания. Показвайки двете страни на монетата (омраза на едната, толерантност на другата), тяхното изкуство учи без да използва думи.


И тук се случи истинската магия. Това не е първия път, в който виждам подобно нещо в София – хората изглежда наистина се радват, когато видят, че някой прави нещо ново. В този специфичен случай, те бяха даже повече от щастливи – бяха заинтересовани от процеса. Спираха по пътя си към вкъщи или пък идваха от близките паркове, за да разпитат доброволците ни за случващото се. И както вероятно се досещате, децата бяха най-щастливи – все пак има нещо в ярките цветове, което е способно да привлече цялото им внимание така, както нищо друго не може.

Това е причината изкуството да е толкова могъщо. Нищо друго не привлича очите ни по подобен начин, карайки ни да се замислим за важните неща и уроци в живота. И да, имаме думи, като „обединение“, „толерантност“ и даже „любов“, но изкуството е това, което може да ги подкрепи и да им придаде още по-голяма сила, което може да достигне до още повече хора. Цветовете могат да се докоснат до ума ни по един изключително дълбок и чувствен начин, да провокират у нас любов, и гняв, и страх, и още хиляди емоции.

“Freedom of (Hate) Speech”Никога не съм била сред тези, които вярват, че произведение на изкуството може да промени света… но наистина вярвам, че множество малки и цветни рисунки могат да променят обстановката ни. А обстановката край нас е първото лице на обществото, което виждаме, първият ни урок за света, в който живеем. Това да я направим по-добра трябва да е първата ни цел в живота.


Вярно е, че не живеем в най-добрия възможен свят, но това пък значи, че имаме възможността да го подобряваме всеки ден, като правим нещо, което е не само полезно, но и привлекателно. Промяната е продължителен процес, и трябва да вложим всичките си усилия, дори и да изглежда трудна, невъзможна за постигане в един живот. Изкуството никога няма да спечели война, или да получи власт. Изкуството е просто изкуство: непрекъснат процес. Точно какъвто е и живота.

Проектът “Свобода на Словото (на Омразата)” се финансира по програма “Еразъм+” на ЕС, КД 1: ЕДС и Тренинг курс за младежки работници.

Благодарим на подкрепата на Център за развитие на човешките ресурси, че ни повярваха.

Благодарим на местните хора, че участваха и приеха предизвикателството ни да работим заедно.