Participating in the Human Rights Training Course hosted by CVS Bulgaria

I recently participated in the Erasmus+ training course „Human Rights from A to Z“. Right from the beginning, when I first read about the call for participants, I immediately felt very enthusiastic and motivated to take part in this seminar. The reason for this is that I always felt that Human Rights are one of the most essential and valuable achievements our global society has created so far. However, I am convinced, that there is much greater potential to share and promote those rights within our communities, but I simply didn’t know where to start. I therefore felt very grateful, when I finally got accepted for the training course.

The course took place in the Red Cross training center near Sofia in Bulgaria and lasted for 6 days in total. It was hosted and organized by CVS Bulgaria. I have never participated in such a training course before. I therefore arrived like a blank page, excited for what to come. Already after a short time, when all the other 33 participants from different European countries one after another arrived, I felt the friendly and open-minded atmosphere right away.

The first two sessions were dedicated to get to know each other. Kat, Nat and Shirin, the organizers of the event, prepared everything with a lovingly and thoughtfully talent. The following two days we mainly concentrated on a theoretical elaboration on the topic of Human Rights. We further discussed the meaning of stereotypes and prejudices, the Dublin agreement, hate speech, islamophobia, other forms of discrimination and we also analyzed specific cases of Human Rights violations. We then embedded our acquired insights into the topic of forced migration in Bulgaria. In this context, we looked at the political framework and developed a deeper insight of what asylum seekers have to go threw. Thanks to the two guest speakers from the Red Cross and UNHCR, which kindly shared their knowledge with us, we received a more accurate impression based on practical examples and specific figures.

In a further session we presented the situations of refugees and asylum seekers of our countries of origin. Being originally from Germany, I knew surprisingly little about the refugee situation in other European countries. For me, this was therefore one of the most interesting parts of the seminar.

On another day, we had the great possibility to visit several local and international NGO’s. During these field visits, we were able to choose between a wide range of organizations, which surely wasn’t easy since they apparently are all doing a very meaningful job. The first NGO I visited was the “Center for Legal Aid – Voice in Bulgaria”. The members of this organization provided us with an overview of their work, which is mainly dedicated to promote the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants through legal aid and advocacy as well as awareness raising campaigns on the topics of asylum, migration and integration. We later visited the “St. Anna Center for Refugee and Migrant Integration”, which is part of Caritas Sofia. We there achieved an insight on the different activities on integration assistance. We also had the great chance to shortly attend in a language course, in which we learned how to present ourselves in Bulgarian. What I found very interesting in this context is, that the teachers use the so-called “Suggestopedia Method”, a pedagogical concept which I’ve never heard of but which seems to have high potential.

I also gained a variety of practical skills, including for example non-formal education methods or the general framework and necessary considerations for implementing a Human Library, which I am planning to start soon in Vienna together with the team of my sending organization SCI Austria.

I am highly convinced that this was just the beginning. It felt like a real blessing to meet so many people from different countries, who share the relevance of the topic and the motivation for change. Considering the fact that we constantly continued our discussions on the topics of Human Rights and forced migration within the several breaks we had, perfectly proves, that the members of our group were all like-minded people who are very engaged within this relevant topic. I must confess that I sometimes feel devastated within my studies of International Development. Every day I am reading about unpleasant issues, global inequalities, politics and societies dangerously drifting to the radical-right as well as dramatic cases of Human Rights violations. And the majority doesn’t seem to care. This seminar, however, has shown me, that there are many ambitious people who – with their heart and their soul – are eager and motivated to make a difference and to take on new challenges to attain a positive impact, which our world needs so urgently.

Together we can make it!

I am looking forward to participating in many more meaningful seminars, just like I am trying my best to spread my gained insights also within my community in Vienna. Thanks again Shirin, Nat und Kat, for making this unique experience to one I will never forget.

Lemonia Lange (Vienna)

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