Viktor Zablotski, 17 years old, Smolnica village
What is a problem in my school, university, community оr country, and what should be done about it?
Each institution, country, or community has its problems. Most of them look complicated, even scary on occasions. But hope dies last, and it’s important to remain optimistic. The reality is that behind everything there’s a solution that works if thought precisely and imposed efficiently.
The majority of people in my country don’t understand minorities. I’m half of a gypsy that has lived among gypsies his entire life, and I’ve seen both sides – the perspective of Bulgarians and the minorities. In this case, by minorities, I rather imply the gypsy community because, honestly, foreigners as a minority are accepted much easier than gypsies are. The problem in our society is hidden in these three words – the misleading stereotypes, the misrepresentation of the community itself, and the prejudice that society holds towards it. In my opinion, each human being is equal, but not every person thinks the same way. Many of my friends at school still hold prejudice toward the gypsy community. Unfortunately, that’s why most of my relatives at school don’t even try to communicate with them. And such people summon a question in my head – „How do we get rid of prejudice if we don’t want to communicate with each other“?
At my school, it feels like all of us are split into two large groups – ‘the Bulgarians’ and ‘the gypsies’, as others refer to them. These labels are awful because after all, we all are born on Earth and bleed in the same color – subsequently, why should we split into groups, if we are all human? The problem is that these labels I’m talking about are making us distant. As a part of the gypsy community, I’ve always felt that communication is something all of us underestimate. Before high school, I didn’t communicate with my Bulgarian peers because, actually, in my village, there weren’t any. When I went to study in the city, everything felt different. The change has had a great impact on me – it’s great to see different perspectives and mindsets! Thanks to my friends, I sincerely believe I managed to integrate into the Bulgarian society. But not many people encounter the same experience, sadly.
I always believed that all humans should have equal opportunities for prosperity. If we want to go towards development, we all have to make contributions because unity makes power. I’ve always tried to represent the gypsy community in the best possible way. For this purpose, I’ve always tried to show my ambitions, in an attempt to break the stereotypes about the gypsies. For example, I like math, but I like teaching it more! Whenever I have a math class, I would assist my teacher to help her with teaching. And whenever I go back to visit the school in my village, I always help kids with math and other subjects. Not only that, but I always try to encourage them, by showing them that they can use their potential in the best way possible.
Potential is a quality that every single human being on Earth has. From what I’ve seen, mostly, gypsy kids aren’t taught that at home. That’s why, in my opinion, we should consider focusing more on the integration of the gypsy community into Bulgarian society. In the 21st century, knowledge and information are the most powerful weapons a human being can have. Knowledge, information, and human potential are tightly connected. Information contributes to our knowledge, and knowledge is the key to the realization of our full potential. Because the more informed we are, the more we understand the world we live in. If we understand our environment and the world we live in, we realize that we can rely ONLY on ourselves. From my honest experience, I have never seen a person from the gypsy community declare their independence from society. Because they aren’t taught to – they’re being raised as „slaves of the society“, by letting it set borders for their infinite potential. And the border, again, comes from the stereotypes that allude that gypsies cannot be a good part of society. But all people can be a great part of society! Nationality, skin color, sexual orientation, or whatever, cannot determine a person’s possibilities.
To eliminate the stereotypes, first of all, we need good examples in our society. And they persist in our society without being noticed. Since we are talking about the gypsy community, I would say that there are many well-educated people from the minorities that can be a good example for the younger generation. I’m talking about the doctors, nurses, teachers, and others from the community. Such examples show us that a person should never set borders for their goals. Everything is achievable if you have a will. As they say – „when there is a will, there’s a way…“
To integrate the minorities into European society, we have to communicate. Communication is the key to many doors – it could change our mindset if used in the right way. A conversation with a person can give us a lot of value, the same thing is with minorities. We can learn a lot from them – for example, the Bulgarian Milet (the community I grew up in): we have many interesting celebrations (Muslim ones) such as Kurban Bayram – a celebration in which we sacrifice a sheep in the name of the prophet. At this celebration, we usually ask for forgiveness from the elderly people by kissing their hands, for which we get candy or money in return. Exchanging different perspectives between two human beings can be very beneficial for both because this way they can learn a lot from each other. And the same is valid for gypsy people. With people from my community, I’ve always had interesting conversations – about literature, languages, the world, etc., and I wish people understood that even if we have grown up in a different environment, it shouldn’t make us distant. Because in this world, we can learn a lot from each other. If we are all friends, we can overcome the differences between us, and turn them into power.
Problems that come from society might be hard to understand, but easy to solve, if our will to be open prevails over prejudice. At the end of the day, we are all human, and our mission should be to understand and defend each other, despite the circumstances! Because that’s how we learn to prosper – we just become wiser thanks to our efforts. As I say: “We should walk together against the problem, not against each other… Because partnership is the solution to many social problems.”
Describe yourself in 5 words?
Creative, hard-working, initiative, tolerant, and ambitious.
What are your top 5 values (principles or standards of behavior)?
Self-motivation, responsibility, loyalty, respect, and tolerance.
What are you most proud of and why?
I’m proud of being an outsider in my own environment because this way I can show others that human potential can’t be limited to an extent. I’m also proud of encouraging others to be themselves by showing them that they, as any human being, are unique and self-sufficient.