Center for Jewish-Bulgarian cooperation

A Roundtable on Tolerance sparked an immense debate among Burgas’ youth

More than 130 students participated in the discussion on the topic “Tolerance as a unifier against hate”

The diversity is a reality and the tolerance for difference is freedom of mind and supreme human virtue. Thus, more than 130 young people from different schools in Burgas summarized the conclusions of the discussion on the topic “Tolerance as a unifier against hatred”. The round table, organized by the Burgas Regional Administration and Center for Jewish-Bulgarian Cooperation Alef, marked in Burgas the International Tolerance Day on 16 November.

The discussion was held in the auditorium room of the district administration, where young people from 9 Burgas schools became ambassadors of tolerance and presented their views to their friends, classmates and guests of the event. Among them were the Regional Governor of Burgas’ Region- Valcho Cholakov and the Deputy Mayor of Burgas’ Municipality- Yordanka Ananieva.

“Tolerance is of particular importance in our time. Today, technology allows you to have friends from across the world. That is why it is important not to be divided by differences, but to find the common that unites you”- with these words, the District Governor Valcho Cholakov addressed the youth and initiated the debate.

The round table was attended by students from: Тhe professional Trade High School, Koluo Ficheto PSCAG, PPMG “Acad. Nikola Obreshkov “, St. St. Cyril and Methodius ” School, High School of Computer Programming and Innovation, PGT “Prof. doctor Assen Zlatarov”, PGPAE “Geo Milev”, Profiled High School for Romance Languages “S. Rakovski ”and PGCHE“ Vasil Levski ”.

A moderator was Veselka Bukleva, a history teacher at PPMG “Acad. Nikola Obreshkov”, who has been working on the topic of human virtues for years. In 2019, she also won the honorary title “Guardian of Memory”, created by Alef and given to the people, who contributed to the preservation and promotion of enduring examples of humanism, valor and tolerance.

Within an hour, the youth, among whom there were representatives of different nationalities – from Bulgaria, Armenia, Kazakhstan, etc., formulated the concept of “tolerance”, debated how the views, attitudes and prejudices could be changed in order to resist hatred and anti-humanism, rising antisymmetism and on-going terrorism. They were not afraid to comment on ways in which the religious peace could be preserved and the most difficult political virtue achieved – political tolerance.

The question “Should the tolerance must have boundaries and where exactly are they?” caused great discussion among students.

“Everyone has the right to be different, but must be tolerant towards others and not to impose his/her differences and beliefs,” intervened in the youth discussion Valcho Cholakov and expressed his admiration and gratitude that the young people of Burgas are not in front of the computers, screens, or other youth entertainment, but are here to share their thoughts, learn something new, and to argue for the important concept of tolerance.

The time of 1 hour for the debate wasn’t enough for the young people to express their views on all the raised issues. They agreed on the idea of ​​organizing a second round table on the topic.

Within the framework of the event was also presented the recently published collection of stories “To love, spite of”, an edition of Center Alef. The collection contains 20 award-winning short stories from the Sixth National Youth Literature Competition “Who Saves One Human Life, Saves the whole Universe”. The works tell of love, friendship and fellowship between Bulgarians and Jews during the Holocaust.

“The stories in this compilation are written by young people for young people. They prove that love and friendship are stronger than prohibitions and reprisals. They themselves are tolerant. I thank all young people for their participation in this discussion and in Alef’s literary competitions, which give opportunities their voices to be heard. Alef focuses its efforts precisely on young people, who are in the age of the moral awakening. What we heard tonight is encouraging – the world can be transformed for the better”- said Alberta Alkalay.

The most direct way to get to know the “other” is through art – dance and music. An emotional, but also natural end to the debates was staged by a concert of the different ethnic groups under the slogan “United in diversity” with the participation of: Armenian dance group “Nur”, dance group “Roosters”, women’s choir “ANGIRA” at lyceum “Far”, School for Bulgarian and Greek dances “Burgos”, vocal group from the vocational school “Vasil Levski”, Karine Aslanian from the PGT, Nicol Merdjanova from the club “Seasons” at the lyceum “Probuda”, Alexandra Ivanova from the choral school “Milka Stoeva” and Victoria Tasmadzhieva from Aytos.

Burgas is cosmopolitan and diverse. Here before and now, live people of different ethnicities. Their youngest representatives proved that there is a way to friendship and that they were on it.

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