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The “Deep roots” project

The activities under the project “Deep Roots” of the program “Erasmus +” implemented by the youth organization ICR-Mutual Aid, for which the Municipality of Kazanlak is an associated partner, have started.

During the project the volunteers will organize Eco Festival Kazanlak 2018 in July this year. This will be the eighth edition of the festival, that began in 2011 from the idea of the volunteer from Lithuania – Raminta Criscuneite. The new volunteers from France, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Romania, Poland and Greece are already in our town. At present in Kazanlak are welcomed a total of 70 volunteers for projects of the organization, funded by the Human Resource Development Centre and the National Centre “European Youth Programmes and Initiatives”.

Our volunteers will spend 59 days in the valley of roses until the 12th of July. They will take part in the festival of the Rose and the parade on the 3rd of June.

Their activities include cleaning the area around the Old River and Tyulbeto Park, workshops on art and eco-themes, shooting short eco-films, organizing concerts with young talented people, interactive fire theatre, summer cinema, presentation of the volunteers’ countries in “Language Cafe” every Thursday in June in the Municipal Library “Iskra”, enriching the “Wall of Volunteering”, creating a blog on the project, presentations in schools and other related activities.

The interesting thing this time is that the project is a strategic one as very few organizations in Bulgaria get the chance to host such a project. The activities themselves will be aimed at organizing three editions of the eco festival, which will be organized and carried out in the town of Kazanlak in July 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Arrival in Bulgaria

Although it sometimes feels like a long time it;sbeen just two weeks since we arrived in Bulgaria. We are 11 volunteers from Spain, Italy, France, Poland, Greece, Hungary and Romania that live together in Kazanlak and attempt to draw public attention to Ecology.

We all came here with both fears and expectations… and so far – so good. Everything is going smoothly. In the past two weeks we’ve had both good and not so good experiences. What’s important is that slowly but surely we’re getting used to this beautiful part of the world.

The first few days were a huge cultural shock for us: Oh my god! What is this alphabet? I don’t understand anything! I don’t know how to order a beer! Oof.. What did he say? What’s written here?

Those thoughts were constantly running through our heads as we were walking along the streets understanding absolutely nothing! Luckily for us though our mentors were there to help us overcome these difficulties and now we’re learning a little Bulgarian: “стъпка по стъпка” (step by step); „благодаря“ (thanks). Our mentors and their organization also organized a welcoming party for us. We all had a lot of fun.

We’re also getting used to eating a lot of Bulgarian yoghurt and Bulgarian white cheese. Did you know that a very delicious yoghurt is being made in Bulgaria thanks to the Lactobacillus bulgaricus bacteria that can be found only here? We also tried some typical Bulgarian cuisine in restaurants around the town.

The food here is delicious! We’re still trying to get used to the right way of saying Yes and No so it can be hard communicating with the locals. Sorry about that!

This weekend is the annual Rose Festival. We’ve preparade ourselves by learning things about the Bulgarian national garbs and the process of making rose oil.

We also hiked in the forest and visited some landmarks in the vicinity of the town. The nature here is breathtaking: green forests, mountains and rivers. It’s heavenly for those who love nature!

Last but not least, one of us got a little bit older today. Happy Birthday Eleonora!

In conclusion: we’re feeling strongly motivated when it comes to our EDS project. We are looking forward to reaching our goals regarding Ecology. We’d also like to learn more about the country and it’s culture (even the language). We’ll keep you all updated about our adventures here.

With love,

The Deep roots project volunteers

Week 1

The first week from the project started with a lot of enthusiasm. We had discussions about our fears and expectations with our mentors. We went on a scavenger hunt in order to get to know the city better and get acquainted with other locals. We also had some fun and challenging tasks like introducing ourselves for example.

We had a good weekend – it was the night of the museums in Kazanlak. We visited the historical museum and the museum of photography. We learned that many prominent artists came from Kazanlak, and even peeked into ancient times. In addition, we enjoyed a jazz concert, which also took place at the History Museum. After that we went to the local brewery, where we listened to rock and met new friends.

The real work began next week. We had a discussion about our ideas for workshops for the Eco festival  and the materials we would need for them. We also started preparing our presentations for the schools.

On Friday we witnessed a rose brewing ritual at the Kazanlak Ethnographic Museum, a truly unique experience. Double distillation is used to produce the rose oil, and tons of rose blossom are needed. They are harvested early in the morning when they are freshest. We also saw traditional Bulgarian garbs, visited two houses built around the 17th century with antique furniture. After that we visited Koprinka Dam and saw a mosaic made by the organization.

A public address from Manon

Hey! I’m Manon. I’m the youngest of the group and I was the last to arrive. I’m from France and I am something like the group’s cartoonist.

Although I missed the first few weeks, let me show you what we did in the past two.

A lot of things happened!

The biggest and most important challenge were the presentations for the local schools. With them we presented ourselves, the organization, the Eco festival and we talked about Ecology. Most of us hadn’t done something like that before. Therefore we faced some difficulties in communicating with the students and yet despite all of that overall it was a really good experience. Some of the students truly were aware of the problems our environment was facing. We’ll be expecting to see them during the festival. We also put up posters about the festival around the whole town.

During the weekend some of us went hiking in the mountains so we could once more enjoy the picturesque Bulgarian nature.

But do you know what’s even better than the Bulgarian mountains? Their folklore traditions. We had the opportunity to pick roses in the rose fields outside of the town. And although we didn’t get up at five like the locals do, we saw the fields and a recreation of what rose picking looked like in the past with singing and dancing. It was truly wonderful.

After all of that it was high time we went back to working. We shot some short eco movies featuring a vengeful Santa Claus, the spirit of the nature, parallels between humans and animals and a movie about bees. But let’s not reveal too much. You’ll see when they are ready.

This week in the language café it was the turn of France and Greece to be presented. We learned about their food, regions and stereotypes that Bulgarians have about French people. Dimitra presented the Greek islands and showed us a traditional Greek dance. We had a great time.

Before our big holiday we visited Stara Zagora, a city close to Kazanlak. There we visited a Shelter for wounded birds. After they have healed the people from the shelter release them back into the nature. Unfortunately however some birds aren’t able to survive on their own because they cannot heal completely. They stay in the shelter permanently.

During our holiday some of us went to the Romanian beaches while others visited Istanbul. It was wonderful.

After we came back it was time of another visit to the Language café. This time we learned about Poland and Hungary.

Last but not least another one of us had a birthday! Happy Birthday Monica!

That’s it for now. We still have a lot of work to do in the following weeks as the festival approaches. We’ll be seeing you there!

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