Ivana Raposova – fellow from Slovakia

Ivana Raposova
Bratislava, Slovakia 

Ivana Raposova works as a Junior Research Fellow in the Centre for Research of Ethnicity and Culture (CVEK) an independent research institute dealing with the minority issues and minority rights in Slovakia. Ms. Raposova deals with the issues affecting the quality of life of a variety of minorities in Slovakia. She is mostly interested in the situation of Roma and migrants.

Ms. Raposova is currently doing a research on good practices in inclusive education at Slovak elementary schools. She also takes part in the campaign “Slovakia for All”, which aims to bring together minority community leaders and human rights activists across Slovakia and help them to find the common ground, unite and strengthen their voice. It is precisely this latter activity that she incorporated into her pre-departure activities, and in which Ms. Raposova could benefit tremendously from the GLC training later on, as the minority communities in Slovakia are generally politically, as well as publicly, underrepresented and very fragmented.

In the past, Ms. Raposova used to be a youth leader working actively with the group of children and young adults in YMCA. She used to organize regular meetings, trips, summer camps, as well as the trainings for other youth workers. In 2013, she spent 4 months in Nepal teaching English in the rural community school. During her volunteer years, Ms. Raposova has attended several trainings in leadership, youth work and experiential education. However, she has not had a chance to participate at a training focused specifically on community organizing. Given her current occupation and interests, this competence can be crucial for her future work with the minorities in Slovakia.

Bratislava, Slovakia

By education Ms. Raposova is a Sociologist. She has acquired her Master’s Degree from the Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, where she is currently persuing her Ph.D. As a part of her studies Ms. Raposova spent one semester at the Bosporus University in Istanbul, Turkey. Her current research interest is directed towards community urban festivals as means of overcoming social tensions and creating inclusive common places. She prefers ethnographic qualitative methods trying to understand the perspective of the people. She speaks English, German and Czech.

Ms. Raposova has been to the United States already three times, always working during the summer through the “Work and Travel program”. She always loves coming back and discovering new and deeper layers of the complex and diverse American society. She would like to use the opportunity to visit the States once more to acquire a better understanding of the American civil society, especially how the NGOs operate and how the community work is being done.

Charlottesville, VirginiaMs. Raposova would prefer to work with migrants, refugees, Romas and youth. The acquired knowledge and skills she would like to use in order to professionalize her own work with the minority communities and their representatives. She possess strong organizational skills; she has a team-player soul, and she has a passion for education, both, as an educator, as well as a constant learner.

In her free time Ms. Raposova loves travelling, getting to know new cultures and cuisines, doing yoga or jogging. She is vegetarian trying to avoid the dairy products.

Ivana will have her internship at Virginia Organizing (Charlottesville, Virginia) together with the fellows Peter Petek and Cristinela Ionescu

Dilyana Gyurova – fellow from Bulgaria

Dilyana Gyurova-Kyupeliyski
Sofia, Bulgaria

Dilyana (Diki) Gyurova is working for CONCORDIA Bulgaria Foundation in Sofia since it funded in 2008. Initially she worked as a Deputy Director and since 2012 as an Executive Director. Mrs. Gyurova is managing the overall work of the organization in Bulgaria starting from the pedagogical aspects and establishment of a certain organizational culture till networking, communication, budgeting and fundraising.

Mrs. Gyurova previous working experience is in the field of social work with elderly people, and also in national and international volunteering projects within the peace organization Service Civil International and its Bulgarian branch Cooperation for Voluntary Service.

CONCORDIA is an independent international organization that supports children, young people and partly elderly in Romania, in the Republic of Moldova and in Bulgaria. The social services in Sofia are provided to homeless young adults, to neglected children and their families, being about 90% from the Roma ethnic minority. Community organizing and support belong to the priorities of her organization CONCORDIA Bulgaria Foundation, so she and her team in Sofia are very interested in the exchange program and quite ambitious about the field work and its outcomes.

Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Sofia

Their target groups for the current social services are homeless young adults (very often former orphanage children) as well as children and families from several marginalized Roma communities in the city of Sofia – the districts Orlandovtzi and Malashevtzi with population of up to several hundred people and no official information as many of them don’t have a proper housing and thus also don’t have permanent addresses nor jobs. This is where also the future plans for Community organizing are focused with the main aim to support the Roma families so that they can provide better care and education to their own children and thus to achieve a smaller number of neglected children, school drop-outs etc. The field work is planned to be conducted in cooperation with mobile social workers’ teams of CONCORDIA and partner organizations acting in the particular districts and Dilyana finds this as very challenging and a great opportunity at the same time.

Keeper of the Plains Statue (Wichita, Kansas)
photo by: Jordan McAlister

Mrs. Gyurova holds two Masters’ Degree; first is in Social Work obtained at the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” and second – in Accounting and Controlling from the University for National and World economy in Sofia. Also Dilyana (or Diki as she is mostly known among fellow trainers and volunteers) has some experience as a non-formal education trainer in youth work, volunteering projects, human rights education and other topics, mostly gained from working with international youth groups. Her own long term volunteering project back in 2003 was also in the field of Human rights education in Germany. Apart from English, Mrs. Gyurova speaks German and in the last years she learned some basic Romanian. She has good knowledge of Russian and French too but unfortunately she doesn’t get many chances to practice.

Mrs. Gyurova has never visited the U.S. before. She is really excited about this learning opportunity. Some of the topics that are of greatest interest in the overall program of the Exchange are Organizational development, Direct action and Fundraising.

In her free time Mrs. Gyurova enjoys playing, cooking and drawing with her children as well as doing some Yogalates or karaoke singing.

Dilyana will be having her internship at Seed House (Wichita, Kansas) together with Claudia Popa and Monika Jurikova 

Monika Jurikova – fellow from Slovakia

Monika Jurikova
Bratislava, Slovakia 

Monika Jurikova is working as a Social worker in urban locality, where are the social welfare and social apartments. In this disadvantaged neighborhood live around 1500 people and around half of them are Roma with different social and economy status. Along with the total absence of any leisure and social services there is a room for development of many conflicts, social pathologies (crime, pollution, drug use, vandalism, …) and the tense atmosphere between different groups of population. Children and young people make up almost half the population of settlement. For many of them are leisure activities offered by other institutions outside the settlement unavailable (required regular attendance, active participation, distance, financial costs). Street becomes a meeting place, a place for leisure, sometimes a refuge, sometimes playground.

Bratislava, Slovakia

For several years Ms. Jurikova has been doing streetwork and preventative activities in club for teens. Before she worked in non-goverment organization that was focused on drug users. Later she was part of team who did preventative activities at school focused on harassment, violence and experimenting with drugs.

Wichita, Kansas

Ms. Jurikova studied at the Faculty of Education, Department of Social Education and she graduated with her Master’s Degree with specification Etopedie – emotional disturbances. During studies, she spent three summers in the U.S. with “Work and Travel program”.

Ms. Jurikova is communicative person, and except English she is able to speak in several Slavic languages, especial  Czech and Polish.

Ms. Jurikova is very excited to visit community projects in the United States. She wants to bring experience and new ideas to her project.

Ms. Jurikova enjoys travelling, meeting new people, learning new cultures. During freetime she enjoys all kind of sport, especial cycling, jogging, swimming, trekking and hiking.

Monika will be having her internship at Seed House (Wichita, Kansas) together with Claudia Popa from Romania and two more fellows.