It is the first post of this blog. Like a puzzle, it is made up of my volunteer experiences at European Capitals of Culture: Plovdiv 2019, Matera 2019, Galway 2020, Kaunas 2022 and Veszprem 2024 that inspired me to create this blog. With each volunteer project, we have tried to improve, support, create. Not everything was as expected, but as a puzzle it is possible to re-do everything in other places. But let’s start by taking notes!

The opening of Plovdiv2019 in collaboration with Matera2019

It all started in January 2019 with my first volunteer experience at the Plovdiv 2019 opening ceremony. Together with volunteers from Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Italy, we assisted the various Plovdiv 2019 events held in the city.

The most tiring and rewarding experience was volunteering with the “D’Ambrosio” band from Montescaglioso – Matera (Italy). We had to bring a lot of equipment for the musicians before and after the concert. The weather was cold and sometimes our hands went numb.

The impressive concert with the pieces of operas by Verdi, Rossini and Puccini was the greatest gratification for us.

But it all made a lot of sense to me because I’d begun exploring the ideas of participation and co-creation of creative events in my master’s thesis at the University of Milan in 2018 devoted to the European Capital of Culture. And it was great to see how it all worked in a real-life project.

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Celebrating Plovdiv2019

“Wish for Plovdiv” was the latest Plovdiv 2019 communication campaign that united the community with a simple idea: to write New Year’s greetings for Plovdiv. People wrote wishes for their hometown Plovdiv and left them in special locations.

Together with volunteer coordinator Kami Clifton, we organized a series of workshops for the volunteers where they decorated special boxes. Then we distributed them to different places where people could write wishes and leave them in the boxes prepared by volunteers.

For a week we collected dozens of wishes. One of the most common shared wishes was for Plovdiv to become an internationally recognized hub for multinational dialogue.

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The highlights of the show: the founder of Shade and Fire Theater Fireter Plamen Ivanov and Plovdiv actresses Diana Tankova and Kami Klifton (Plovdiv 2019 Volunteer Coordinator)

Celebrating with Plovdiv2019, NoviSad2021, Kaunas 2022, Veszprem 2024

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The aerial drone image taken by one of the participants of EU School of Participation radio presenter & DJ George The Bad Radio (Plovdiv, Bulgaria)

62 lanterns in one week were created for a fantastic show for International Volunteer Day on December 5th at the #schoolofparticipation in Plovdiv by our volunteers together with guests from other European Capitals of Culture with the support of the EU Creative Europe Program, the British art-company Walk the Plank and Plovdiv 2019.

The event brought together around 30 Plovdiv volunteers and 26 creative professionals from Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia, Armenia and England. Most of them represented the future European Capitals of Culture.
I have already written about the event on the Volunteers Plovdiv 2019 blog and posted on Instagram. Plus, there’s a 10-minute video about our week-long experience made by Walk the Plank.

Collaborating #together with Plovdiv2019 and Matera2019

Play. Learn. Collaborate. These simple principles guided the largest collaborative project between the two European capitals Plovdiv 2019 and Matera 2019 – FUSION – Urban Games Festival. More details are in my interview with the Italian volunteers.

The games brought together Plovdiv residents, guests from Italy, Germany, England, Argentina and Russia.
You can read my interview with the Italian volunteers Matteo and Giuseppe on the blog Plovdiv Volunteers 2019.

Meeting Galway2020!

During their week-long stay in Plovdiv, Galway volunteers Iggy Egan and Cara Cleary shared the daily routine of Plovdiv volunteers.

#together we brought the chairs, prepared the presentation and the game for our weekly volunteer meeting, met guests at the weekend exhibitions and watched live streaming the #Plovdiv2019 closing ceremony at Lucky Cinema.

Let the magic in! Opening Galway2020

My volunteering in Galway (Ireland), European Capital of Culture – 2020, became the logical continuation of the Plovdiv internship. I was selected to represent Bulgaria in the framework of the international exchange program.

Due to bad weather, the Galway 2020 opening ceremony was canceled a few hours before the start. We have combined the wisdom of volunteers from different countries to create an impromptu program based on Galway’s original attractions. Together with Bulgarian, Italian and Irish volunteers we have found 5 ways to make the Galway 2020 logo work Let the magic in!

With my future new posts, I will be sharing more ‘Cultural Insights‘.

Images: Vanesa Popova, George Vasilev The Bad Radio & Tatyana Garkavaya

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