Tags » Thoughts

 
 
 

Gender in Bulgaria (summary)

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Gender in Bulgaria at a glance- World Bank Report

Gender Pay GapI stumbled upon this super concise document produced by the World Bank in Bulgaria which takes a look at gender and the distribution of employment and education between the genders.

I’m not at all surprised with the findings that, indeed, there is gender balance in Bulgaria and while we have not yet had a woman President, women are somewhat well represented in Parliament (holding 25% of seats and making up for 19% of Ministers as of 2013).

Again, not surprisingly man and women’s occupation are distributed in a rather traditional manner, women holding above 50% of positions in Education and Health and men dominating the labor fields of engineering, manufacturing and construction.

This fact itself calls for further action in terms of diversifying the gender make up of these fields in order to cope with stereotypes coming from traditional thinking that create false beliefs and disallow young men and women to pursue any career interest.

It’s worth mentioning that the wage gap in Bulgaria (the difference between the salaries received by men and women) is lower than the average for the European Union member states and equals only 13%.

belgiq-integrira-romi-imigrantiThe document presents an interesting statistical comparison between Roma and non-Roma population in Bulgaria and points out at the perceivable gender imbalance  between men and women from the first group. Presumably due to culture differences in marriage, childbirth and other customs, in addition to societal expectations and/or discrimination Roma women are drastically less employed (26%) than non-Roma women (56%). Moreover, it is safe to assume that the occupations Roma women hold differ significantly in terms of specialization, quality of working conditions and wages provided.

The chart on the Roma population points at the significantly lower number of years of school attendance for Roma children and youth (7.1 for Roma men, 6.2 for Roma women, compared with 11.1/11.3 for the Non-Roma population). Interestingly, research on the attitudes of this group shows stronger patriarchal and heteronormative attitudes in the Roma community where 52% of men and 38% of women approve of instances of domestic violence towards women.

non-heteronormative martenitsi by Maria Vassileva FlicrThis document while useful with its conciseness leaves out underrepresented groups which don’t identify with their assigned gender (transgender) or have a different understanding on gender (whether genderqueer, genderfluid, etc.) and takes a look at Bulgarian society from the persistent and pervasive heteronormative perspective which creates gender outcasts and disallows the socially inclusive study of society that could really foster dialogue about gender.

It is important as we read and review documents on topics as gender which, indeed, have the potential to acquire mass public interest to introduce the modern language and concepts associated with the topic. Such un-intrusive informal education calls for respect and acknowledgement of the differences between people and creates opportunities for both individuals and society as a whole to self-actualize.

 

Please, share your thoughts by using the comment form below :) Thanks for reading!


In a quest for an insight

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

“It is so hard to push away the desires of the heart”- my thoughts conclude. But what does the heart really want? Is it enough to just be paid attention to? Or does it inevitably call for action? And what action is most appropriate when the heart’s longing is for the Other, but we are tragically lacking the means to be able to ever understand the Other and brake away from the limits of our own perceptions, of our own subjective, distorted thoughts, feelings, notions. Does it mean than that we are confined to our own worlds, that mutuality, if existing at all, is an approximation? And why doesn’t that strike as a favorable enough of an outcome?


Help me to [Inspire Bulgaria]!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

A few months ago I was going to the Black sea coast, travelling on a bus (no hitchhiking this time!) just after receiving a 1.000$ scholarship from the 2iFoundation which supports young Bulgarian leaders who are studying abroad. Previously, I was very moved by the kind efforts of Petyo Angelov (May his soul rest in peace!)- a talented writer and polyglot who knew over 30 languages who graduated my High School and also gave scholarship to distinguished students. These and other situations in which I have received support to learn, travel and create motivated me to seek ways to continue having an impact and giving back to the community. Despite not being in charge of the organization I started years ago (which is now in the hands of my wonderful friends) since living the “American dream” cast in the serene state of Vermont.

The proposal that you will see below is the idea I came up with back then and which I reminded myself a couple of days ago not being able to think about much else since then.The provided information is now submitted to MiddStart (the Middlebury college crowd-funding platform) and hopefully will be accepted and funded!

Nevertheless, I need a lot of serious feedback from both Bulgarians and foreigners, and I will appreciate any input! Please, comment below so that we can build dialogue! Thank you! 

INSPIRE BULGARIA

207297_201145059926499_2777742_nProject objective: providing young Bulgarians who want to organize low-budget projects with micro- funds to help them implement their ideas.

Brief description:

Inspire Bulgaria will be a social fund providing financial support to Bulgarian High School and University students who have ideas for low-budget projects that will benefit both themselves and the society (e.g. fundraisers, community service initiatives, eco actions, awareness campaigns, etc.)

The funding opportunities will be promoted in High Schools and through various partnering NGOs, so that more young people can learn about it. The application process will be accessible to young people and open throughout the year.

In addition to the financial support project organizers will receive mentorship and advice how to promote their projects around peers, improve their leadership skills and the quality of their projects, etc. Priority will be given to ideas that include participation of peers and have impact on the society. In the summer time a day-long event will be organized to receive feedback, create a sense of community among the young leaders, work in groups and focus on different topics which will further on develop understanding and skills.

The results of the funded initiatives will be disseminated through their appearing in the Facebook group of the project. A simple website will be created to promote the project and give access to valuable and easy to read articles connected to project planning, funding and implementation.

The funding received by MiddStart will be used to aid these youth projects and initiatives and create a web platform.

What is the inspiration for your project?

Chaya KolevaWhen I was in 9th grade I started a youth charity and volunteering organization in my High School. Our first initiatives were weekly events in orphanages and homes for elderly people. In addition, we organized a lot of street events and campaigns to raise awareness towards the benefits of volunteering, positivism, doing Good.

Whenever I see or take part in something new that engages me, I try to master it and spread it so that it reaches and benefits as many people as possible. When I went to my first youth exchange (a 10-day informal education and volunteering project in another country with participants from several European countries), I was determined to organize a project like that myself so that my friends and fellow volunteers could participate, too. A year later my organization received funding from the European Union to implement the project I created and ever since we have been partnering and initiating such projects all around Europe, including hundreds of young people.

Most of the local projects I have organized have been either low-budget or not financed at all. This was able due to the fact I have always used alternative ways to provide what we had needed. For example, when we were visiting institutions for disadvantaged people I always contacted local companies that either sell or produce sweets, children’s books, balloons, etc. and asked them to donate some. For the tea actions we organized during the winter season when we handed free tea to strangers on the streets of Sofia and talked with them about volunteering, I had engaged several shops and small companies to give us free tea, sugar, electric kettles and print leaflets. I found out that this is a good strategy since many people would like to donate things they make or have rather than money. While such an approach might seem too complicated, it was indeed inclusive: so many people participated in some way for the implementation of this otherwise small project!

306244_385903594783977_1140841748_n

While this approach worked great for my organization, I realize that not every young person may receive the same support or have the confidence to reach out and ask for it. I want to give the chance to any young person who has an idea of some sort to receive both financial and moral support to do it while not being affiliated to an organization and having full control over the planning and implementation of his/her project and possibly- follow up.

Being able to create something, make mistakes, face challenges, celebrate small triumphs, grow as a leader and as an individual has transformed me so much! I have seen so many of my peers who became active contributors to the organization I started evolve and grow and strive to learn, make a change and fulfill their potential and I am truly committed to keep trying to inspire!

Project cost:

294985_403772489663754_993240637_n2000 USD

Converted in Bulgarian Leva this sum will be able to cover the costs for a great number of low-cost student initiatives. If we estimate the average cost of  a student project to be about 35$ which is quite reasonable, then with that sum we can fund about 55 projects!


Little daily insight #2

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Maggie Nazer, Fall in BulgariaSomething I found within my collection of letters which I once again need to practice:

What I have personally found is that The secret of living is giving. You are very close to this already, I believe.

Yet, I suspect there is a big chance that you might miss something that is not so easy to notice. In most of cases giving might lead to a disappointment and some sort of suffering.

But there is more to that and it is all upside-down as it is with many other things.

The most important is not whether you will receive anything, but whether you can give without fearing.

Without being afraid that your giving might be seen as a weakness; that you might not get anything out of it, or be hurt.

And then what happens is that the more you give, the more you get. It’s the magic of the Universe.

11/29/2010 Sofia, Bulgaria

Adapted from a letter to me by Mitko Karamanchev


Creative Autobiography (Part 2)

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

3214_1109644912344_7726818_nThis is the second part of my “Creative Autobiography” (CLICK here to go to Part 1), prepared for my Arts Course this fall semester, called- “The creative process”, led by Middlebury College professor Claudio Medeiros. He asked us to turn this in, so that he can get to know us through our initial creative experiences. Here is what I came up with…

19. When confronted with superior intelligence or talent how do u respond? I absorb it. Greet it. Try to share my knowledge of its presence with others.

When faced with impending success or the threat of failure, how do you respond? By giving the best of myself and not giving up.

21. When you work, do you love to process or the result? I love when I have both- the pleasures of walking the Way and the joy of reaching the aim and being able to both look back and decide where to head to next.

22. Does your reach ever exceed your grasp? Always.

23. What is your ideal creative activity? Creating something (book, organization, project) that will inspire people and create value.

What is your greatest fear as a creative being? Being shallow. Following patterns, but never succeeding to be truly creative and innovative.

25. What is your greatest fear in life? Not leaving a trace.

26. What is the likelihood of the answers of the previous 3 questions happening? Possible, but highly unlikely events.

What is your greatest dream? My 8th grade dream: To change the world.

28. What is your idea of mastery? When the skill you practice becomes a natural part of yourself and you see the whole world through its prism.

29. What medium would you like to be able to dabble in? Mostly creative writing, acting, dance and self-directing

30. What medium would you like to master? My confidence; self-containment. I don’t want to ever have a relationship which is not based on personal preference and selection, but on some sort of a need or fear.

31. What are you excellent at? Improvising.

32. What are you terrible at? There is not a concrete thing I can mention. I am excellent and terrible at different things at different moments. Even If I say a single thing, it might not be true anymore (as is the case with my being a great procrastinator)

33. Which answers would you most like to change?

None

Thanks for reading!


Creative Autobiography

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

DSC_0419This is my “Creative Autobiography”, prepared for my Arts Course this fall semester, called- “The creative process”, led by Middlebury College professor Claudio Medeiros. He asked us to turn this in, so that he can get to know us through our initial creative experiences. Here is what I came up with…

Creative autobiography
Of Maggie Nazer

  1. What is the first creative moment you remember? My first most meaningful creative act was creating a garden in front of my block of flats and getting everyone excited and willing to help me do it. The space was covered in long grass and trash and I succeeded to clean it all with the help of my friends  and we planted flowers and made table and chairs by putting stones together. This created a wonderful playground for us and also a great view for all the passing by people who lived in the block. I was in the third grade, when I started this very first project of mine and yet this garden is present up to this day.

2.       Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it? Yes, many people, in fact. It was clear that it had an impact as well as people appreciated the environment we improved and created.

3.       What is the best idea you have ever had? Starting a youth charity and volunteering organization and thus creating an active platform for exchange of inspiration, skills, service and more. Deciding to write a book including real life love letters or conversations about the nature of Love, relationships and more in addition to personal narratives which aims to show how my perception on Love had changed over the time- moving from pain-control-ownership-based relationships to alternative, conscious relationships in which partners are viewed primarily as individuals and not only as parts of a couple and love is viewed in the context of personal and mutual growth, unrestrained and free.

4.       What is the dumbest idea? I think there are no dumb ideas.

5.       Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea?

6.       What is your creative ambition? To finish my book soon and publish it (short term). To keep developing my creativity, intuition, my sense for arts, beauty, fashion; to be able to express myself better artistically, to develop my own psychological and therapeutic art instruments.

7.       What are the obstacles to this ambition? Lack of time and opportunities to work on it specifically.

8.       What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition? Creating agenda, watching out for opportunities…

What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat? I used to travel a lot so I hardly had any repeating habits as every day used to be completely unique. Thought travelling often can also become a habit.

10.   Describe your most successful creative act? See N3.

11.   Describe your 1st successful creative act- See N1

12.   What are your attitudes towards:

  • Money- I do think that money are important. When people don’t have the money to meet their basic needs, they feel miserable, inconfident and restricted. They can not pay that much attention to arts or sports, literature or entertainment If their needs for food, shelter, etc. are not met (The hierarchy of needs, Maslow). Money are a great way to exchange value as well- in the present world money are the material form that your creative energy, diligent work and sweat transforms into.
  • Power- I believe in the power of human actions, inspiration and enthusiasm. As well as the power of intentions, positive thoughts and shaping your Universe through being able to find the lesson in every situation.
  • Praise- I don’t like praise, because I think it does not lead to anything constructive. What I have observed is that when people praise someone it is as if they look at him as a hero- a super human, rather than an individual who succeeds to overcome himself and create himself no matter of what he has started with.
  • Rivals- I used to be very competitive. When I was in the States for the first time on an exchange program in Wake Forest University, however, I experienced a massive decrease in my confidence- I felt despite all my emotional intelligence, experiences and skills, I could not compare to the factual intelligence of my peers, my English suffered as the more I tried to push myself to talk well in English (and I did have a high level of expression in English), I only sounded worse. I realized that If my confidence is based on the comparison with others, I will always suffer badly. Because there will always be someone better than me in one thing or another. I believe that each of us is a unique mixture of experience, characteristics, skills. And rivalry should be within- in your personal attempt to challenge yourself, your preconceived ideas, expectations, your very “natural” attempt to attach and secure yourself.
  • Work-is a great opportunity to develop yourself and practice happiness, If it is revolving around some passion of yours. Should be stimulating or made stimulating.
  • Play- you can play as you do almost anything. Depends on your attitude towards things.
  • The Divine- I believe that God is in each one of us and in everything that surrounds us at every moment and at any place.
  1. Which artists do you admire most? Robin Williams, Shimshai, Bob Marley, Vladimir Dimitrov Maistora, Claude Monet, Leonardo da Vinci, Lenny Cravitz, Ayn Rand, Oscar Wilde, Plato…

From the list you can see I do not really have much background in arts- but I want to learn and I want to become able to appreciate visual art and be deeply touched by it.

14.   Why are they your role models? I wouldn’t say they are my role models, but I am impressed by their being so authentic, revolutionary in their own ways, deep, sensitive, aware.

15.   What do you have in common with them? I am just aperson, yet I know that a single person can have a great deal of impact.

16.   Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?My mother, friends, poetry, music..

17.   Define muse. Someone who inspires you to create and express your Potential to the fullest.

18.   Who is your muse? Different people at different times- people with passion, and will, determination and positive aura. Many times I’m my own muse as well- I am proud of my achievements, of succeeding to practice the values I care about and tryong to be an open book and share as much as possible.

Thank you for reading! :)
CLICK HERE to continue with the second part :)
M.

 


God speaking through us

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, music

We shall lift each other upIt was a hot summer afternon and the city was sweating. It was my first time in Burgas since I was little, but I didn’t feel like sightseeing. I kept on pulling my suitcase after me as Tsvety and I searched for something to eat.

As we walked the main street we stopped to listen to some street musicians- two beautiful boys playing guitars and singing rock songs in Bulgarian. There was something different in their singing as they didn’t try to sound as the original performers, but sang as if they were the first ones to.

I put my suitcase on the ground and sat on it. There was a little crowd gathered around them  in a semi-circle. When they stopped playing we clapped and waited enthusiastically for the next song to begin. When it was over and I once again awoke from the trans I had fallen into, I asked them to play my favourite song.

I felt touched, unable to explain why. Same deep feeling of joy as when my friends and I gather and sing together, mumbling the words we don’t know and singing out loud the songs we love. And it always fels very special, very simple and authentic. And I never get bored.

Tsvety and I left quickly to grab some pizza for dinner and soon returned and sat again to listen. The boys smiled to us and we felt as special guests rather than strangers now.

As I was sitting on the ground, in the middle of the street busy with people, moving determined in all directions, I felt moved. My eyes were catching the eyes of the boy singing and we were both smiling, naked in the depth of the glances, in the song and the silence.

It was a most intimate moment between strangers.

With the end of the last song they asked us if we were waiting for the train and we nodded. They said they could finish a bit earlier this night and we all sat nearby to talk.

Within a couple of minutes, I was drоwning in dissapointment. Their voices were full with sarcasm and the music composed by their words was everything but inspiring. While the first boy was disparaging pretty much everything we tried to speak about, the other one was somewhat modest, but quite disilusioned. He didn’t seem to be happy with his life and referred to his being a musician as doing something for the sake of doing something.

As they talked to us about their fellow musicians, using them and people not caring about good music, the whole situation felt bitter-sweet. The joy was gone with the end of the last verse and was not coming back, at least not before the next performance. I felt sad and I felt offended. In the next few minutes I made the effort to give them something: my own, sincere feedback on their music and the atmosphere they created, which people DID value and appreciate. But it all felt as a cliche. Their souls if opened throughout the singing were now shut, scratching on the surface could only hurt me.

I said we had to go to catch the train and we left soon. No Facebook exchange done and no photos taken.

I can not have small talk, while I’m all naked.

*

The more I think about this evening, the more I try to find some sort of explanation to ease the pain I still feel remembering.

The pain is caused by the sudden intimacy born in the simple act of singing together and having each other in the hold of a gaze and the abrupt distance created right after.

This encounter shaked me somehow and made me think about being an artist and creating art- just as the noble men of Ancient Greece I expected that the beauty of the music created by the two boys was mirroring the beauty of their souls and intellect. And while this might not always be true, I have the feeling that there is more to that…

**

Last year when Carsten came to Bulgaria to be with me, but things did not turn out the way he expected them, I stayed speechless trying to figure out what to tell him to ease his pain. What I told him back then was that may be we have given each other what we had to give; we have learned what we had to learn from each other for the moment, and that we had to let each other go in order to be able to share intimacy and love again some day or not. I did not merely understand what I was saying back then. It took me about a month to realise its meaning. But while I was trying to fall asleep one night, I figured this is exactly what I had to understand myself months and moths ago after I broke up with my last boy friend who I kept loving insanely for about two years after. I realised that this is what it’s all about- meeting, getting to know each other, learning, raising each other up, not staying together for the sake of simply being together… And only then Love can be forever, even though still dynamic, evolving…

***

I believe there are these moments in which a power greater than us takes control of us and speaks on our behalf. Or sings. Or plays. Or draws. Or writes. God that is in us, whether we know it or not, speaks through us, and we ourselves are speechless in surprise. We only have to learn to live up to him.563798_10100475498289621_1349969739_n

♥Maggie Nazer is a social entrepreneur, activist, blogger and current Middlebury college student.