Tanya Ivanova, Sisu Mikael Bohm, Karolina Kaloyanova, Leonid Solodunin, Hannah Nauerth
As a part of the Lernwerkstatt seminar, our group carried out a project on the issues of exclusion of Roma and their home and host countries in the example of respectively Bulgaria and Germany. Another perspective was considering what kind of successful initiatives of cooperation there are to improve the role of young Roma in the society. The advantage of our international group and diverse backgrounds was that some members have previously worked with young Roma in Bulgaria and was able familiarize us quickly with the challenges that Roma face in different fields, such as education, housing, health care and work. From the beginning our group believed that the focus in the Roma discourse has been rather divisive and negative for too long, therefore we wanted to break the vicious circle of silence by inviting professionals to discuss the less-spoken about cooperation between Roma and non-Roma both in their home country-Bulgaria and in the host country- Germany, as well as to share their ideas about the optimal inclusion strategies.
We commenced discussing the idea in late 2017 and after being granted financial support from MitOst e.V., we could organize a conference hosted by the Bulgarian Cultural Institute of Berlin on 21st of June, 2018. Our conference consisted of three panels:
1. The First Panel: “Discrimination Experiences of Bulgarian Roma in their Home Country and Germany” by Mariela Nikolova, Amaro Foro e.V.
2. The Second Panel: “Inclusion, Assimilation, Acculturation” by Prof. habil. Hristo Kyuchukov
3. The Third Panel: “Tales on Cohabitation, Cooperation and Breaking the Stigma around Young Bulgarian Roma“ by Antoaneta Pophlebarova, Balkan Kids e.V.
The three panels were each followed by a Q&A session and at the end of the conference there was a catered Meet & Greet session.