Reaching Dobrinishte had been a small struggle, meaning that the COVID-era has imposed so many obstacles regarding people coming together and some of them apply directly to traveling. So, while I was full of enthusiasm, after a small mismatch in the documentation needed to travel, I had to wait for another day and join the group one day later than all the other participants did. To my surprise, that meant nothing to my colleagues. I was accepted the first time I met with them and integrated as if I was there from day one. The same applied to my trainers. I felt encouraged to participate in all the activities and sensed that the training course that was about to be delivered was all about teamwork and cooperation. And I loved it.
The mere title of the project gave me an important insight. The persons I was about to meet had been worried about what happens in their communities or even societies. Being in Dobrinishte meant that they were somehow unsatisfied by the current status quo, that they are interested in making an impact that affects communities, namely that altruism is more or less part of their mentality. That made me expect a surrounding that I can, at least, relate with and grew my expectations.
Since it was my first participation in such an intercultural project, my expectations were both high and vague at the same time. That was until the day I met all these intriguing and diverse people. It became obvious that we shared a lot, even if we have entirely different cultural and national backgrounds. We shared concerns, as well as ambitions. And we were in the right place at the right time.
The entire learning journey that we shared was also what we needed at that point. A holistic approach to digital campaigning, both technically and theoretically ignited our interest, imagination, and a huge series of discussions among people from 12 different countries. That led to knowledge exchange, as well as to a self-reflection that could be the starting point of shaping attitudes, those of ourselves and others.
After almost two years of semi or full isolation, due to the pandemic, I made a lot of new friends, but equally important, I came in touch with a lot of new mindsets and attitudes. The process of campaign designing engaged me in a process to critically reconsider views and opinions. The importance of actively listening, as a multiplier of any teamwork, and as the best way to move forward with the best ideas was present throughout the training course. And the multicultural context proved, once more, virtually that bringing people and cultures together leads to such attractive, yet efficient outcomes.
Stylianos Arvanitidis, Greece