A youth volunteer project funded by the European Solidarity Corps in order to promote intergenerational dialogue between the volunteers of “SolidarityWorks” Foundation and the residents of the village of Drugan in the Pernik district.
The Village and Its Opportunities and Challenges
The migration of a large number of people to the big cities in the last few decades has had a detrimental effect on the rural communities in Bulgaria. Many young people are fleeing small villages and towns in search of more promising professional, educational, and social opportunities related to life in the capital and some other large district cities.
There are 231 rural municipalities in Bulgaria with a population of less than 30,000 people, which makes up 81% of the vountry’s territory and 42% of its population (Kalaydzhieva, 2010). Due to the aging Bulgarian population and the abandonment of rural areas by young people, the majority of rural areas are elderly—most often retirees. In addition, the population in the rural areas of Bulgaria is at an increased risk of poverty and social exclusion due to the decline of the local agricultural and manufacturing industries and the lack of jobs.
The resulting divisions—between rural and urban population and between the young and old—tear the Bulgaria social fabric, prevent social cohesion, and limit the potential for dialogue and exchange between generations and the preservation of traditions, folklore, local history, and knowledge.
Our project aims to use ethnographic tools to facilitate dialogue between generations and to help collect stories, photos, recipes, folk songs, and other cultural products owned by the residents of the village of Drugan.
We sought to complete this project to deepen our relationship with the local population, to document their memories and impressions, and to give visibility to their needs.
The Project – In Short
Our specific goals are:
- to interview 40 locals
- to create and exhibit a photo gallery of the locals
- to prepare an ethnographic collection, including excerpts from the conducted interviews with the locals, photos, and other ethnographic materials, as well as an analysis of their needs, prepared by the project volunteers.
- to organize five public events through which to create opportunities for critical discussions related to migration outside rural areas and their depopulation
This project will be implemented by volunteers of “SolidarityWorks” Foundation, under the age of 30, who will undergo in-depth, several-month training to be prepared for the ethnographic work on site. The collected ethnographic data on the project will also be used for the preparation of several academic articles in international research journals. In this way, the project will further contribute to the development of knowledge about rural communities and regions.
We will present the intellectual products created within the project both to the local community and to other, non-local audiences. If you would like us to visit your community, you can send us an invitation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a permanent resident of the village of Drugan and you want to join the project and be interviewed, please sign up by following the button below.
Drugan Ethnographic School
How do you turn the known into the unknown?
Does living determine consciousness or does consciousness determine living?
What significance do different cultural practices have for the people who practice them?
How does subjectivity affect the study of cultures?
How does our own presence in certain cultural situations change them?
Can we really have an “unfiltered” description of reality?
Is there human knowledge beyond interpretations?
How do we create authentic trust and rapport with the people we research?
We begin to ask such questions when we first become acquainted with the discipline of ethnography, anthropology, and sociology. Ethnography is a scientific method by which we study, get to know, and describe a certain culture. The main mission of ethnography is to immerse ourselves and to understand, in-depth, another way of life from the perspective of the people who belong to this culture. Spending shared time with the bearers of a particular culture and understanding how they themselves interpret the meanings of their actions and behaviors, as well as the accompanying emotions ,social reactions, etc., we realize how many different worlds exists—even in close proximity.
Within the pilot edition of our ethnographic school, 8 volunteers, aged 15-30, will have the opportunity to not only take their first steps in ethnography by learning about its history, theory, methods, and ethical principles, but also conduct several months of ethnographic research under the guidance of experienced mentors.
What Will You Gain from the Program?
You will learn how to ask questions as an ethnographer, how to conduct in-depth interviews, and to create the conditions for authentic sharing by your interlocutors. You will gain practical experience in how the collected research data is coded, processed, analyzed, and presented.
These skills are very valuable and will be useful even if you do not want to continue studying anthropology, sociology, or journalism.
As a participant in the ethnographic school, you will participate in several public events to present the project and, subsequently, its results. In preparation for these events, you will learn more about the intricacies of speaking in front of an audience, and you will receive valuable feedback.
Sharpened Writing Skills
You will participate in group writing workshops that will help you recreate what you have learned in the interviews you will conduct with the locals of Drugan through stories that authentically capture the atmosphere of the place, the spirit of the interviewee, and the messages they revealed to you.
You will also gain experience with writing content for social media posts.
Advanced Communication Skills
We will share with you many interesting approaches for communication and connection with others which you will be able to test and develop through the meeting with the representatives of various social groups.
Interaction with the Bulgaria Village and Way of Life
Through visits to the village of Drugan, interviews with local people, and sharing moments with them, you will gain a deeper understanding of their reality and problems, as well well as everything they can convey to us as knowledge, experience, and points of view.
Research Mode: Activated!
Curiosity is the key to leading an extremely interesting life. We believe that the training we provide and the opportunity to participate in a real research project will ignite in you a lasting thirst for learning, sharing, and exploring the many realities that exist.
The participation of volunteers in the ethnographic school will continue from October 2019 until September 2020 with varying intensity of group meeting and activities, as well as individual responsibilities.
In the table below you can learn about the commitment that the project requires in its various phases.
To join the project, you need to be 15-30 years old and to be ready and able to actively participate in the project from beginning to end.
Duration: 4 weeks, starting from the beginning of October
Main Goal: to introduce volunteers to the approaches and methods of ethnography and to equip them with knowledge and skills for fieldwork
This phase will be carried out mainly online. Each week, participants will receive a digital lesson on a different topic related to ethnography and ethnographic methods. The lessons will contain links to videos and articles, questions for reflection, at least one task to be completed by each participant in order to apply what has been learned, and a short test to determine the extent of what has been learned. Participants should review the lesson and complete all the tasks for it, and at the end of each week there will be an online meeting with the team of “SolidarityWorks” and other participants, during which they will discuss and upgrade the topics studied.
Duration: 4 weeks
Main goal: planning and preparation for field work
In this phase of the project the participants will get acquainted in more depth with the place where we will conduct field work (village of Drugan) by reading more about it. In addition, participants will prepare a preliminary list of questions for the interviews, which will start in the next phase of the project and will agree on the final list of research questions.
This phase includes at least one visit to the village of Drugan, during which participants will distribute pre-prepared promotional materials for the project, talk to locals and recruit participants in the study. Once each participant has recruited the people to be interviewed (at least five people who meet the criteria set by the project participants), he / she should plan and prepare for the interviews with the help of other team members and mentors and the shooters from “Solidarity in Action.”
Duration: according to the plan prepared by each volunteer, but not more than 10 weeks.
Main goal: collecting ethnographic data in the village of Drugan, connecting with the local culture and population, practical work with ethnographic methods
In this phase, the project participants will conduct a series of interviews with the locals of the village of Drugan. Each interview will last no more than 2 hours, but participants will be encouraged to spend more time with the people interviewing when appropriate. After each interview, participants will reflect on their experiences and will have the responsibility to transfer the collected data to a safe location to which the entire team will have access. In a few weeks we will organize group meetings for sharing, feedback and exchange of impressions and strategies.
Duration: 10 weeks
Main goal: preparation of an ethnographic book and gaining experience in processing and analysis of ethnographic data
In this phase of the project, participants will work individually, in pairs, and in a team, to prepare an analysis of the needs of the interviewed residents of the village of Drugan, as well as an ethnographic book, which we will distribute inside and outside the community. Our team of mentors and trainers will provide additional training modules and workshops to support participants.
Duration: 8 weeks
Main goal: presentation of the results of the ethnographic research and the ethnographic school, involvement of more people in discussions related to the depopulation of the villages, the possibilities for preservation of the non-urban knowledge, and the meaning of the intergenerational dialogue
In this phase we will organize several public events, including a photo exhibition and presentations of the ethnographic book and the results of the project. We will also undertake activities to expose the project to a larger audience through publications, media appearances, and the social network.
All volunteers who successfully complete their participation in the ethnographic school and research within the project will receive:
♡ a certificate for completed training in ethnography, issued by the “SoildarityWorks” Foundation and Champlain College, USA
♡ a certificate of volunteering
♡ a portfolio with intellectual products created by them
♡ training materials
♡ an opportunity for new contacts and friendships
♡ access to an international team of sociologists and anthropologists
♡ covering of all transport costs to and from the village of Drugan
♡ food during the group visits to the village of Drugan
Are you ready for the adventure?
Apply for participation by September 29, 2019 by filling out the form to which the button below will refer you.
The selected participants will be notified no later than 04.10.19 via the email addresses provided they provide.
Let the curiosity be with you!