Diana Nedeva – fellow from Bulgaria

PictureDiana Nedeva is projects coordinator, volunteer, trainer. She is working on different projects with focus on empowerment, anti-discrimination, life-long learning, human rights, global education.

She works with several NGOs in Bulgaria and her main occupation is as a coordinator at Caritas Sofia where she is coordinating projects for refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants. The life of these minority groups is very challenging. That’s why they need to be supported in order to find their own way to start a better life and learn to be independent.

Ms. Nedeva also works with C.E.G.A. Foundation where she is part of a team organizing Global education trainings for youth leaders, teachers and students.

She started volunteering only 6 years ago, but since then she is actively promoting volunteering. For her this is one of the best ways to discover what is interesting for you, find inspiration, learn how to achieve your goals and find out how you could help the others.

Sofia_04Diana was an EVS (European voluntary service) volunteer in Germany in 2012 and her main tasks were connected with preparing, implementing and reporting training courses and youth exchanges with main topics like anti-discrimination, racism, xenophobia; inclusion and equality.  One of the methods she used is Forum theatre, very powerful tool for social change in her opinion. That is why at the moment she is part of a group which is planning to work with different minority groups in Bulgaria using this method as main.

Ms. Nedeva graduated from Public administration in Sofia. Since 2011 she is participating in different trainings and she is currently one of the participants in Training of trainers (10 months) organized by SALTO and working on developing her skills as a trainer. Her training practice project (which she organises together with 3 other participants within TOT) is for youth and social workers who want to develop their competences in empowering young people with fewer opportunities to become aware of, and act on, their dreams and visions of their own futures.

Chicago BeanThis will be her first opportunity to visit the U.S. She is very excited about the project and eager to know more about creating and supporting the leadership in the different minority communities, how to facilitate coalitions in the community organizing processes and improve her knowledge about organizing campaigns with them.

In her free time she loves to dance tango, play board games, participate in theatre courses, do yoga. Diana will have her internship at Illinois Coalition of Immigrants and Refugees Rights (Chicago)

Antoaneta Bozhikova – fellow from Bulgaria

ani_photoAntoaneta Bozhikova is 30 years, born in Sofia, Bulgaria. She has a brother and sister who both live in Germany. Antoaneta finished humanitarian high school, studying exclusively English and Greek.

She continues with the Law Faculty of the University of National and World Economy. In 2012 she successfully graduated as Lawyer. International law, EU law and American law with Mr. Joseph Benley were her favorite subjects. She has been intrigued by the American judicial system which is very different from the Bulgarian one.

Since 2013 she works as a legal counsel in the Technical University of Sofia. Antoaneta is mainly responsible for all the contracts, which the University signs, Public procurement and international relationships.

First time she has been involved with the non-profit sector was during the high school years. At that time she got involved with Bulgarian Red Cross, where she became a volunteer, organizing different health campaigns and initiatives. She has also organized different events for and by young people, collecting clothes and books for children in orphanages, sports events where children from such institutions played basketball, volleyball or football with other young people.21809579_l

While she went to her mandatory internship to the Ministry of Justice, Antoaneta was introduced to the social democratic political party. She got involved in event dedicated to youth unemployment. Then she started to follow this issue and she received trainings in leadership such as the “Summer Academy For Social Democracy” and “Give Your Voice a Volume”, both organized by Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Antoaneta also participated in C.H.A.R.M. project organized by C.E.G.A. foundation. Since then she was involved in variety initiatives on gender issues and political leadership. One of her recent activities related to volunteering is the mentoring program called “Able mentor” and for 4 months she worked as mentor of a young girl, who wanted to become a lawyer.

For the last two years, Anotaneta is a volunteer in Gender Project Foundation where she is working on projects dedicated to the empowerment of women in Bulgaria.

© 1999 EyeWire, Inc.

© 1999 EyeWire, Inc.

Currently she is engaged in the “Civil Discussion for Change” project tackling the problems in within the legal system, electoral Legislation, direct democracy and other issues. Recently she has been chosen to represent the project aims and goals in front of members of parliament and ministers. To prepare she will undergo special training on how to assert and defend thesis.

From January 2015 Antoaneta got involved and committed herself to be part of Pro European Network, an organization where Alumni from the Professional Exchange Programs are in strategic planning and one of the main topics is Community Organizing.

Antoaneta is a very active person – she likes hiking, jogging, fitness, dancing salsa and Zumba. She is open minded and a friendly person.

She speaks English, Greek and little bit of Russian and German languages. Currently she is taking French language courses. Antoaneta will be doing her internship at Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (Chicago). 

Testimonies from Bulgaria

Nevena Pashova – Sofia, Bulgaria
Internship with Pioneer Valley Project, Springfield, Massachusetts 

BU_Nevena Pashova„The experience in the USA is a lifetime experience for me. I saw the difference between the people here and the people in Europe in the positive way. I have had the most incredible and inspiring host family, host organization and colleagues. The time spent in the USA helped me develop myself in a professional, personal and cultural way. I’ve learned about the power and that the power is based on the relationships between the people in the community. It is always with the community and for the community; it is not about the individual person, but for the power of the whole community. Thank you very much for this great opportunity!”

Dilyana Gyurova – Sofia, Bulgaria
Internship with the Seed House, Wichita, Kansas

diliyana“Community Organizing was a brand new concept for me, when I arrived to the U.S. about a month and a half ago. Now, after having had some short but intense sessions with the many mentors, activists and other resource people that the Professional Fellows Program connected us with, but mostly after having experienced it myself during the fellowship in Wichita, Kansas, I can honestly say that I have my own understanding of what Community Organizing is.
The experience in the field was the one that helped me a lot to reach that – I really enjoyed door-knocking, but even more the whole process of planning, conducting and disseminating campaigns. I would like to finish with an example that was brought to me by my wonderful host, Laura Dungan, who told me about her work with Shel Trapp, an example that best underlines the concept of Organizing that I perceived – in one of his books Trapp is photographed from the back on purpose, because it is not the organizer, but the people who are the ones that matter.”

Kirilka Angelova – Yakoruda, Bulgaria
Internship with Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Chicago, Illinois

Kika“I found this fellowship to be a life and work experience. To engage and to involve, to see how people organized themselves for a better life, to see the people power, to feel the truly engagement of the community leaders, to understand more about USA life, to see all this amazing places, to have wonderful time with the group and all people who I met since I am here – great people, professionals and community organizers – this is priceless. I found all the programs very inspiring and interesting. I am very grateful and satisfied. This was a life-changing experience in a good way and of course a great opportunity. Thank you very much! It is never about us, it is about the community! With all my respect”