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"Частици от миналото"
Start date: Aug 1, 2015, End date: Nov 30, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Context of the project: In August 2015 the Municipality of Gabrovo (in Bulgaria) in partnership with the City administration of Aalst (Gabrovo’s twin town in Belgium) has implemented the youth exchange project 2015-2-BG01-KA105-014449 “Pieces of the Past”. It was based on the practical experience of Municipality of Gabrovo in carrying out the cultural and social initiative “Take me to the countryside” during the last three years. The project was aimed at introducing the richness of Bulgarian cultural heritage to young people and at the same time it had to broaden their knowledge and openness to other national customs and traditions from the European cultural map. “Pieces of the Past” built up the experience from the youth exchange in 2013 and developed the successful outcomes of the project 2014-1-BE05-KA105-000012 "Pieces of the European Jigsaw Puzzle" in 2014 between both twin towns. Aims of the project: The main aims were to overcome the negative tendencies of young people connected with the receding and not knowing the national customs and traditions; to create a possibility for full and effective communication between generations and to stimulate dialogue and understanding; to preserve the identity and uniqueness of the traditional national cultures of Bulgaria and Belgium, and to popularize them among young people. Number and profile of the participants: Two groups, consisting of 8 Belgians and 8 Bulgarians together with their 2 leaders – Belgian and Bulgarian nationals, between 16 and 28 years old. In each group there were 3 boys and 5 girls. For the effective implementation of the project activities and aims all participants were divided in two groups, consisting of 4 Belgians and 4 Bulgarians. Each group had a Belgian/Bulgarian leader. Description of the implemented activities: Before the beginning of the youth exchange the Municipality of Gabrovo has appointed a team of project management. The team was responsible for: organizing of the youth exchange and its logistic provision; selection of the Bulgarian participants; monitoring the implementation of the activities; documenting, filing and making reports for the implementation of the project; popularizing the project aims and results. For implementation of the youth exchange, 16 youngsters from Gabrovo and Aalst, together with their 2 leaders lived in the villages of Stoevtsi and Gabene, near Gabrovo, accommodated in the private homes of "adoptive grandmothers and grandfathers" from 24 to 28 of August 2015. They had the opportunity to learn about unknown or forgotten Bulgarian national customs, traditions, folk songs and dances. They tasted local dishes and delicacies, tried to do their own cooking and took part in the day-to-day life of the Bulgarian village. There were organized evenings of Bulgarian and Belgian traditional cuisine, holidays and customs. Part of the project activities included making young people familiar with the historical and cultural heritage of Gabrovo and the region: working visits in museums, cultural and public institutions. Achieved results and impact: All participants developed their skills for team working and communicating in multicultural environment, improved their communicative, linguistic, creative and organisational skills. They broadened their knowledge with regard to both their own national culture and the culture of the other country-partner. They gained knowledge and experience for preserving and popularizing the national and regional traditions, customs and folklore as part of the common cultural heritage of Europe. Strong connections of continuous succession and friendship were established between both generations of the "adoptive grandmothers and grandfathers" and the youngsters. Long-term benefits: The project 2015-2-BG01-KA105-014449 “Pieces of the Past” cultivated the youngsters’ attitude on tolerance and acceptance of different cultures. It also changed their attitude towards getting to know and preserving their own national cultural heritage. This helped them better understand each other and respect different opinions. These are the core values for good partnership, future cooperation and even policy making. Today’s youngsters are tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers not only of Bulgaria and Belgium, but of the EU, because what affects one state member, it also reflects to the whole European family. One of the main results, recognized by the Municipality of Gabrovo, is the fact of building up stable partnership between Gabrovo and Aalst through implementing projects for youth exchanges. The local authorities in both towns could benefit from the established contacts, excellent bonds of friendship and willingness for working together. Therefore, by such projects we prepare our youngsters in advance to be able to work together on and carry out joint initiatives and projects which will develop the economy, culture and social life of local communities in Aalst and Gabrovo.

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