By Vyara Nikolova (YES 2017-2018, Bulgaria, hosted by YFU in Farmington Hills, MI)
Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) is a very special event for YES alumni from all around the world. It’s a time when you know that your actions not only help a community, but are a part of a bigger cause. It motivates a person to do something bigger, more impactful, more significant. It motivated me!
This year, I celebrated GYSD (April 12-14, 2019) by leading YES Abroad students in Bulgaria in what we called a “GYSD Event Marathon” in the capital, Sofia. This “marathon” consisted of three different activities, united by the same aim: to help people.
The first activity consisted of collecting plastic bottle caps to contribute to a nationwide campaign called “Caps for Future” led by the Lazar Radkov Foundation. We gathered 1,400 caps from more than 100 community members! The caps collected will be sold to a local recycling company and the proceeds will be used to purchase equipment for medical facilities in underdeveloped regions of the country.
The second activity involved planting trees in the New Sofia Forest, an initiative to help combat air pollution in the capital. The main event was organized by the Municipality of Sofia and gathered more than 150 volunteers. YES Abroad students Lauren Leadbetter and Grace Bird and I planted 15 trees!
Last, but not least, YES Abroad student Joey Johnson and I spread more than 50 posters throughout an entire Sofia neighborhood. These posters were designed by the European Commission to encourage citizens to vote in advance of upcoming elections.
All of these events were helpful to the community in different ways and we know their impact will be not only long-lasting, but essential to the development of Bulgaria.