Interview with Pavel, the Bulgarian Collaborator of the Association FOR YOU

The project “YE kick off for an amazing journey from insecurity to self-esteem” brings together 8 organizations that work with people with mental disabilities and/or Down Syndrome or psychiatric problems, in Bant, in the Netherlands. Our colleague Pavel, who took part in the workshop, speaks to us about his experience.

Hi Pavel! Just to provide a short introduction, tell us something about you: how you’ve started to work for the Association FOR YOU, what is your previous working experience and what do you do every day in the office.

I’m 23 years old and I’m studying accountancy at the University of Economics – Varna. My home city is Shumen, located a hundred kilometres west of the Bulgarian coast.  During my 4th educational year, I was interested in working hourly on tasks connected with my specialization. I saw an advertisement for free accountant position from Association For You and I decided to apply for it. That’s how I started to work here. Before I started working for the Association I spent 3 summers as a lifeguard.

During the last one, I lived in North America thanks to a Work&Travel program in which I got a great experience working as food runner (something like being a server: I had to deliver and serve the food at the tables). I stayed in the USA for 4 months. Now in the office, I work 12 hours weekly. Generally, my duties concern filling out contracts, making reports and such kind of primary and secondary documents. Most of them are regular monthly-based duties but sometimes I get some extraordinary work to do.

Please speak briefly about the project in the Netherlands in which you took part: what were the main aims and topics and what were your main tasks in its development.

Actually, in the beginning, I didn’t know how exactly it would be, but I had a deep interest in taking part in it because it could have been a great opportunity to visit Holland and meeting a lot of new of people. For sure this trip has been like a little holiday and a deep breath far from the daily routine.

The ultimate aim of the project was getting together youngsters and people in disadvantaged situations, in order to promote their mutual communication. We arranged mixed groups from 8 different European countries. Every group included disadvantaged people and leaders. Our team was formed by 6 people of which 3 were in a disadvantaged situation. Every day we received a schedule compiled with different games. The main aim of the games was strengthening the relationships between the participants. To be honest, some of the games were really funny, others not at all.

My main tasks were about: Improving my communication abilities with such kind of people; Trying to be more empathetic; Understanding some personal information about the story of every participant; Learning to be myself in a different area; Visiting and discovering Amsterdam;


How was taking part in this project doing the same usual work of a volunteer without being a volunteer? What were your impressions and feelings about your everyday routine and about the entire experience? In which ways have you improved your previous working capabilities and what totally new skills have you learned through your service?

I met a lot of different people and I’ve understood how wrong is to separate them from each other. We have to learn how to be human. Every time I meet several kinds of new interesting people and culture is a great experience for me. I’m trying to catch as many opportunities as possible in order to extract the maximum benefit from them, also improving my communication skills.


Thanks to those games, I’ve learnt that every person is good at different things and that it is not possible being the best in all of them, similarly to what happens in everyday life. The victory was not supposed to be the basic target but just a motivation: the most important thing was the teamwork behind any challenge we had to face. I used to be a little bit individualist, so I’ve found really useful those lessons in team working.

The Netherlands is well known in Europe for a lot of things: the peculiar architectonic style, the several art museums (especially the ones about Van Gogh), the advanced welfare state, the Lego toys and the nice emerald country yard full of windmills and tulips and some other special kinds of “grass”. Tell us what stroke you more about the country environment and how did you enjoy the Netherlands in general.

It was interesting for me to enjoy the environment, the architectonic style and some sides of the Netherland culture. Actually, Holland is a very small but heavily populated country. It was amazing seeing thousands of bikes all over the streets and so much water and streams everywhere. In my opinion, the most interesting part has been discovering that a big portion of the land is submerged and there is an intricate system which drains out the excess water. This the reason why it’s a common habit building over the surface of the rivers. I really enjoyed the big variety of people and the huge population of different species of animals as well.