Center Amalipe gathered nearly 200 young people at the Intercultural Academy for the Development of Civic Engagement and Tolerance.

From November 16th to 19th, 2023, the Center “Amalipe” held one of its most exciting events – the “Intercultural Academy for Civic Engagement and Tolerance.” At this unique forum, nearly 200 representatives of student parliaments and other active students from 7th to 12th grade came together, united by a common mission – the development of tolerant thinking and skills for active civic participation.

The aim of the event was to provide new knowledge, skills, and inspiration to young people studying in schools participating in the network of the Amalipe Center, created within the “Every Student will be a winner” program. Among the challenges that young people face today, the Amalipe Center chose to focus its attention on civic education, tolerance, and the development of leadership skills.

The event took place at the Hotel Complex “International House of Scientists Frederic Joliot-Curie” in St. St. Constantine and Elena Resort, starting on November 16 – the International Day for Tolerance. Over four days, participants actively engaged in educational activities aimed at developing tolerant thinking, overcoming stereotypes, and prejudices. The young people explored topics such as civic participation, the right to voice, combating racism, discrimination, and hate speech. The opportunity for learning and discussions laid the groundwork for the development of interest and knowledge in issues related to important democratic principles.

The program was structured by days and sessions, providing students with an active experience and practical skills. From the official opening to the games and challenges, participants were stimulated not only to absorb information but also to apply it in practical scenarios. Each session was prepared by experienced facilitators and experts in the respective field.

A special guest at the opening was the Chief of the Regional Education Inspectorate of Varna, Dr. Irena Nedeva, who greeted the participants and wished them to be inspired and ambitious in pursuing their dreams. She thanked the organizers for their efforts to help young leaders become more confident, motivated, and equipped with new knowledge to face the challenges ahead. A highlight of the first day was a live connection from the USA with student Zlatin Ivanov, who shared his journey from Novi Pazar to New Jersey. From the student parliament in Novi Pazar to the vice president of the Student Government in New Jersey. Dreams come true when you want them strongly enough! – this was his message to the students. The Day of Tolerance concluded with interactive group games for different classes, united under the motto “Let’s be tolerant!”

In the following days, both youth and adults went through numerous active and dynamic sessions.

The session “Love is not a bad thing – prevention of early marriages” unfolded through various activities designed to engage, touch, and move the students. Everyone found it interesting, and there was 100 percent participation. Students, from small to large, played roles, empathized, and experienced a range of emotions. The impact of the session was very strong. The young people quickly realized the idea that at this stage of their lives, education is the most important thing. That creating a family should not precede obtaining a diploma and starting a professional career. That true love awaits the right time and shows tenderness, care, and trust. Discussions were lively, with stories about close ones who have experienced or are experiencing something similar, advice to each other, and promises not to allow early marriage and dropping out of school. The role of the father (the family as a carrier of old and harmful traditions and the pressure on the young within the closed community) was strongly emphasized, as well as the role of the school as an institution in which young people trust and expect help and protection.

Accompanying adults also participated. Everyone delved into deep discussions and raised numerous issues in families, traditions, and the incompetence of institutions. Again, there were strong emotions and tears. They stepped into the shoes of the girls and empathized with their pains and disappointments. There was also hope that they themselves would be part of preventing early marriages. They willingly wrote appeals and turned to their beloved students with “It’s too early!” A plea for careful decision-making regarding the future of all young people was directed to all their close ones and friends, creating a slogan with their personal belongings. They wrote “It’s too early” as each contributed something of their own. Everyone participated. They did it quickly and were pleased to have created it. Each remembered this appeal and personal promise, mainly through the experienced emotion.

In order to enable young people to organize civic campaigns, everyone went through the “Campaign Organization” session. During the training, an exciting experiment unfolded, where students from 7th to 12th grade used an apple as a source of inspiration. From creating stories to forming campaigns, the children demonstrated a high level of creativity and commitment.

The 7th-grade group experienced an exciting process inspired by the emotions of an ordinary apple. They created a campaign for tolerance, using video messages and creative materials to raise awareness in the school. On the other hand, the 8th-grade formulated creative campaigns, discussing global topics such as early marriages and the importance of participating in elections. Their ideas and commitment inspired everyone. In the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade groups, students created the “Leadership Academy to Support Education.” They presented campaigns, raising funds to support students facing difficulties in education. This innovative approach not only emphasized the importance of education but also showcased the strength of a united youth community.

As part of the program, all student groups had a session on “Selecting the School Parliament and School Ombudsman.” Participants took on roles and conducted an improvised debate to choose a school ombudsman, with the two debaters presenting and defending their theses and ideas while others listened and considered whom to vote for. They then proceeded to vote, accompanied by many emotions. For the final activity, students divided into two groups – one tasked with writing on a flip chart the activities they would initiate if they were in the student parliament, and the other group outlining the tasks of the student ombudsman. In the session with the older participants, the discussion took a different direction – young people talked about not giving up in the face of life’s challenges, how every obstacle or failure should not discourage them and make them lose motivation easily, but instead, it should make them stronger and resilient.

One of the training sessions also covered the topic of EU values and the upcoming elections for the European Parliament in 2024. Participants from 7th to 12th grade not only familiarized themselves with the basic European institutions and their Bulgarian counterparts but also delved into the detailed foundational values of the EU. The climax of each training session was the game “EU Values.” Divided into teams, students competed not only to state correct and incorrect claims about EU values but also engaged in analysis of how each value connects all member states. The sessions provided an opportunity to discuss the upcoming elections for the European Parliament and how civic activity can shape the future of the united continent. In this context, the training sessions created a space for the development of critical thinking and conscious civic participation among the future leaders of Europe.

To develop their skills in educating their peers when they return to their schools, the youth also went through a session focused on this direction – “Peer Education – Creating Tolerance Clubs.” Students practiced numerous specific skills for planning and implementing educational activities in the field of tolerance within the context of school goals and needs. They were encouraged to apply creative solutions regarding educational content. Special attention was given to making the training appealing and useful for the audience. Participants enhanced and built upon their presentation and communication skills.

The youth gained more knowledge about fundamental human rights and preventing discrimination. They learned practically how to report such cases and what steps to take when witnessing hate speech.

The session dedicated to Roma history and culture was conducted as an interactive exercise, where the youth had the task of creating videos with unknown facts about the Roma. In the short time they had, the students produced many interesting and modern clips. Some of the videos have already been shared online and reached thousands of people. Here are some of them:


@amalipe_center Групата от Средец, Пазарджик и Варна с класация за ромите ✅️ #centerAmalipe #ЛидерскаАкадемия #Top5 #foryou #foryourpage @Милена Илиева @Radostin Stoqnov @Мелис🕊️ @Chono Ivanov @🔱😈 DEVIL 😈🔱 ♬ original sound – Amalipe Center

@amalipe_center На вашето внимание е още една класация с Топ 7 факта за ромите ✅️@Ivo Alexiev @Darko @♕︎𝓕𝒾𝓁𝒾𝔃♕︎ @🐍🖤..Tanq Ivanova..🖤🐍 #centerAmalipe #ЛидерскаАкадемия #top7 #foryou #foryourpage ♬ original sound – Amalipe Center

@asen.fcb 5 факта за ромите,които може би не знаете! 🤩 #top #gypsy #bulgaria #fypシ #foryou #foryoupage #viralvideo #trending ♬ original sound – Асен Асенов

More photos from the Intercultural Academy can be found here:



Despite the storm Frederick attempted to throw at the end of the Leadership Academy, all participants proved that together and united, we can overcome difficulties without fear! Thanks to all students, adult professionals, volunteers, and team leaders who gave their all so that each participating youth could feel understood, calm, and accepted in a tolerant and friendly environment. The “Amalipe” Center believes that the “Intercultural Academy for Civic Participation and Tolerance” will be a key step for young leaders who will continue to grow and fight for a better future through their own civic initiatives, playing an important role in public life by promoting understanding, tolerance, and acceptance.

The training sessions in Leadership Academy 2023 were organized within:

The “Intercultural Academy for Civic Participation and Tolerance” was also implemented within the project “Intercultural Academy for Civic Participation and Tolerance” with the support of the U.S. State Department through the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria.



The event took place within the framework of the “Human Rights: Educate, Inspire, Change!” Initiative as part of the “Rights and Values” project and was funded by the European Union and the Open Society Institute – Sofia.





Participants in the Leadership Academy are part of the “Every Student will be a Winner” Network, administered by the Amalipe Center with the support of the Trust for Social Achievement. The network “Every student will a winner” unites over 300 schools from all over the country. It is coordinated by the Amalipe Center with the support of the Trust for a Social Achievement. Primary, basic, unified and secondary schools, as well as vocational high schools, participate in the network. In the past school year, participating schools reduced dropout rates to below 1%, and 173 schools had no dropouts. The percentage of young people who continue to secondary education after completing primary education is also steadily increasing: in 2010, it was only 39%, and now it is close to 95%. More information about the network can be found HERE.