1. Magi, can you share some background information about yourself? Where do you currently live and what do you do?
Hello, Mladiinfo and thank you for this opportunity to share my story and forward my knowledge! As you have mentioned I am a 19-years old, born and raised in Bulgaria, but with Palestinian origins. I graduated from the National HS for Ancient Languages and Cultures in Sofia in 2012 and I am currently having my gap year prior to going to college and I live in Naples, Italy.
Here I work in a hostel for food and accommodation, a position I found through a website called helpx.net which helps travelers explore different communities through voluntary work in farms and hostels. I aspired to take a gap year ever since 11th grade when I was send to a training for EVS coordinators in France where we explored the benefits (as well as the social constraints) of taking an year off to travel and explore yourself and the world.
My desire to become an EVS volunteer and my inability to find a placement in Italy taught me a valuable lesson that we should not focus on the concrete ways we can achieve something but rather be aware of why we want to do what we want to do and open ourselves for the endless opportunities that there are to make it true.
Now I am very happy with the outcome and I enjoy my time here, organizing workshops and community events in the hostel, writing a book, meeting people, learning to cook and ultimately- being able to practice new skills and habits.
2. For how many years have you been involved in the non-formal education sector and are you part of any youth organization right now?
My dedication to non-formal education grew out of my previous and lasting passion for community service and volunteering. I organized my first fundraising activities when I was about 10 years old to support a local boy who needed surgery. Later on, when I went to study at the Classical lyceum of Bulgaria I found many people who responded passionately to my experiences of helping people. The idea of having an organization which has events year-round started to form and soon I started organizing events in institutions for disadvantaged people (elderly people, kids and youngsters deprived of parental care)on a weekly basis. All of these would not be possible without the involvement of many volunteers as well as many locals who helped us by giving us balloons, chocolates, etc. We were growing and so was the organization. Soon many young people from outside school were also taking part in our actions and we also organized street events as Free Tea and many others to promote volunteering and to try to reach the people and forward our message for more smiles, positivism and acts of kindness among people. Though we regarded all of those events as community service, they all represent non-formal education in its essence as we were learning intensely, sharing thoughts with people from a variety of backgrounds, finding ways to support our projects and inspire others.
One of the most important things I realized along the way was that whenever you help others, you help yourself. This is why in the following years volunteering and non-formal education became part of my everyday life as well as part of my overall °mission° in Life: to assist people in their path of self-development and in their quest for happiness and better possibilities.