By Vyara Nikolova (YES 2017-2018, Bulgaria, hosted by YFU in Farmington Hills, MI)
The last weekend of 2019, Milena Ivanova (YES 2017-2018, hosted by AFS in Fort Collins, CO), Sabutay Yundzhyuler (YES 2017-2018, hosted by YFU in Shreveport, LA), and I had a productive three days full of activities in the “sea capital” of Bulgaria, Varna.
We began the weekend with team-building activities and creating a plan for the following two days. On Saturday morning, we cleaned a local park, which is very close to the sea and was unfortunately filled with single-use plastics, tissues, and other kinds of trash.
We then toured two important buildings in the city: the University of Economics and the Varna Library, which is the biggest library in eastern Bulgaria. We had the opportunity to meet with the library staff and talk about possible collaboration. We also visited the American Corner, which is a very important place in Varna. We hope that all three of these institutions will serve as venues or partners for alumni projects in the future!
The next activity was a workshop on how to prepare and implement grant projects. Elitsa Stoeva (YES 2016-2017, hosted by ASSE in San Antonio, TX), who was awarded a Global Youth Service Day grant in 2018, joined us virtually to lead a training on how to prepare a successful grant application. She shared plenty of useful tips about grants and presented her experience with her own grant project, “Little Libraries.”
We concluded the day with an hour-long brainstorming session, where we discussed future project ideas and helped each develop plans for turning our ideas into reality. The ideas discussed included conducting Black History Month presentations and starting a YES Bulgaria Youtube channel. This brainstorming and planning continued on Sunday morning, before we all said goodbye.