On February 16th, we were invited to Stara Zagora, to discover the International Youth Center of this town and meet their youth workers.
In a quite huge building that used to be a cinema during the communist time, we sat around a table with our cups of tea and listened to the stories and the goals of this Center.
Rebuilt and arranged for the use of the youngsters of the town, the Center was created around 8 years ago, as a unit from the Municipality, to create and organize some youth activities and accompany the youngsters in their youth. It is aimed for people from 15 to 29 years old, coming from different walks of life. All kinds of activities are offered there: leisure activities, educational or even international activities…
Vessela Mareva, the manager of the Center introduced us to the youth workers. Let’s meet them… Mircho Hrisov has worked in this field for more than 10 years, in different cities of Bulgaria. He focuses more on art activities and psychological trainings. Zdravko Tenev is a psychologist and educational mediator. He works with children and their parents. Milka Koldamova has been working as a youth worker for a year. Monika Todorova is a mediator and also a youth worker for seven years. She tried different kinds of activities such as trainings, parties and some interesting events for youngsters, that can bring them together and make them enjoy the Youth Center.
The youth workers mainly work to raise awareness among the young population about the roles and goals of the Center. They encourage them to develop themselves personally and professionally and empower young people by giving them different kinds of activities.
The Center has a lot of clubs. Some are led by them, some are led by external experts. There are non-formal learning, like trainings or club activities with a leisure focus, there is a dance teacher giving dance classes for free and also a theatre oriented group. Every week or every months, they do a social event that mingle the different groups and clubs of the Center. They can also work with the international and organize multi-cultural events. But as there isn’t many foreigners, they don’t organize it as often as they do with the locals. They did language cafés with the foreigners studying in Trakia University, and gave an opportunity for the local youngsters to learn more about different cultures and develop their language skills.
The main promotional tool of the Center is their Facebook page, where they inform about the activities they organize. They also do outdoor informational campaigns such as visiting schools, campaigns in the street, going to Roma district and doing outreach work. They choose some specific locations where young people gather and there, they try to interact with them, to present their activities, inform them. One of their goal would be to expand in other towns and villages around Stara Zagora and gave more opportunities to more youngsters.
After this hour full of informations, we explored the building with Mircho. When a group is coming, ten bedrooms can be prepared for 36 people in total. Each room has four beds except two rooms with only two beds. On the first floor, we can find a conference room with multimedia installed such as a screen, a projector and a translation booth. It can host up to fifty people. They mostly use it for international events, conferences, or trainings. Let’s go to the second floor, where we can find a multifunctional dance room with mirrors, white boards and tables. Besides the dance class, different trainings can take place there, the room is adaptable as needed. There is also a computer room for e-sport or for the youngsters that need internet and can use it for free. And there is a tennis table room, used for games and art events. Due to the pandemic, they did online events for the past few months. But since last week, the activities are now indoors and young people can gather for a board games night or karaoke night.
To discover more about their activities :
To learn more about them :
Location : International Youth Center, 55 Tsar Simeon Veliki Blvd., Stara Zagora, 6000 Bulgaria