What Happened During the YE Ecology Act

Between the 15th and 20th of October, ten young French people came to Varna for a youth exchange organised by Maison de l’Europe WIPSEE and Association For You. This exchange, called Ecology Act 1, aimed at raising awareness on the importance of ecology. It was also an opportunity for these young people to meet a number of young Bulgarians, bond with them and share their experiences related to ecology.

Getting to Know Each Other and Working on the Topic

On day 1 of the exchange, the two groups met and played some games together to get to know each other. This was followed by presentations on underwater pollution from the organization Friends of the Sea. There was also a quiz on the different types of plastics. Discussions between the participants were a good way to exchange ideas and compare ecological tips that everyone could apply to their daily lives.

Visits and Workshops 

The participants during a workshop held by the organization Green Motives.

The second day, the two groups went to the Technical University of Varna to visit the workshop Green Motives, where Zdravko uses plastic waste such as bottle cups to create new objects like tops, flower pots and bowls. The afternoon was the occasion to learn more about upcycling, the action of reusing materials in a different way without going through the process of recycling. A workshop was organized by Natalia from Recycle Art Academy. Bulgarians and French made a beautiful piece of art, using trash such as plastic waste and broken electronics, depicting Franco-Bulgarian friendship over ecology. The day ended with an international Erasmus+ dinner and a karaoke night organized by the ESN. The opportunity to meet people from different countries and share food and songs.

The beautiful art created by recycled materials.

The City Rally 

The third day started with a city rally. Separated by groups of five, participants had to go around town fulfilling a list of tasks, including finding monuments, improvising flash mobs, talking with people in the streets and going shopping. The rally helped strengthen the bonds between the groups, while at the same time made the whole group discover or rediscover the city, its history and its culture. Lunch was spent at The Social Tea House and a traditional dinner was held at a restaurant in the evening.

Beach Cleaning and Booklet 

Bulgarian and French youngsters cleaning Varna seaside.

Day 4 started with the cleaning of the beach and its surroundings, along with Club EcoLogica from the University of Economics. French and Bulgarians spent the morning picking up trash that people had thrown away in nature. Plastic bags, clothes, shoes, water bottles, food packaging, tires, pieces of cars and parasols are only some of the many items collected that day. After this tedious work, the group catched a break in the Sea Garden and enjoyed their lunch. The afternoon was spent working on the booklet of hints and tips related to the topic of ecology. The work was divided in 5 groups, according to the 5 Rs of ecology: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse, Rot. Dinner took place in the Red Square, and was followed by a game night at Hashtag bar.

Last Day – Certificates and Farewell 

On the last day of the exchange, the participants were presented with the Youthpass, an official certificate from the European Commission that they had concluded an international youth exchange sponsored by the European Union. Following the awarding of the certificates, the participants worked once more on the booklet of hints and tips for a sustainable lifestyle. The day ended with a farewell dinner, a last occasion to exchange and play games together.

All in all, the youth exchange was a success on both sides. Bulgarians and French alike were able to discover and learn from each other, improve their knowledge on ecology and participate in the protection of the planet and the environment.