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August 12, 2016, 7:45 PM

URI Bulgaria’s First BRIDGE Intercultural Youth Camp

URI Bulgaria’s First BRIDGE Intercultural Youth Camp

We are all building our future every day, every moment, with each smile and feeling. If you just open your heart “the Good” will find you!

BRIDGE - Intercultural Camp 2016 was initiated and organized by Angelina and Svetlana from BRIDGES CC with the help of our dearest friend Angel Filipov and financial support from the Municipality of Stara Zagora and URI Europe. Several children members from Bulgarian URI CCs (Trans Defi CC; Dialogue Center CC) and our Global Council Trustee Father Petar Gramatikoff attended the camp and shared their interfaith experiences.

During July 18-22, 2016 nine teenagers (12-16 years) of various faith backgrounds (Christian Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim) gathered together for the five-day long BRIDGE - Intercultural camp in the modern International Youth Center of Stara Zagora,  an ancient Bulgarian city with very rich history. The city has been a place where people from different religions and beliefs have co-existed for centuries, and an old mosque, Eksi Djamia, has been turned into a unique Museum of Religions.

The camp gave the children a chance to learn about the different religious traditions of Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Islam, and Protestantism. They learned how to work together to build bridges of tolerance, mutual understanding, and respect for various faith traditions, generations, and cultures. They learned how to coexist and build tolerant communities, how to communicate and be more tolerant with “the other”, and how to establish an intimate spiritual relationship with others and their communities. They understood that interfaith dialogue refers to enriching connections to one’s own faith and traditions through exploration of other faiths and attitudes.

A wide range of workshops (arts, crafts, music) and outdoor activities during the week enabled the young participants to make friendships, cultivate their communication skills, and openly share their cultures. In this natural way, children were introduced to easy ways to become bridge-builders and peacemakers.

We hope that these unique tools and methodology can be further developed and applied in other contexts of interfaith work with children and youth.

Our wish is to turn the BRIDGE - Intercultural Camp into a recurring event which equips children to get involved with interfaith work and enables them to experience interfaith leadership as they grow up. We also hope to use the Camp’s model that can be replicated not only across Bulgaria but also in other crosspoints of religions, cultures, and spiritual traditions worldwide.

You can see more photos from the Camp here and here.

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