Road to Bulgaria

LACE for SDGs Training Course

Pazardjik, Bulgaria

7 – 12 April 2018

Dear my pretty reader

My name is Taam as a VSA placement staff and VSA secretary. I am writing to share my experience during I participated the training course in Bulgaria. Last April, I got a good opportunity from VSA Thailand to participated in the training in the project called “Learning, Acting, Creating, and Educating for Sustainable Development Goals (LACE for SDGs).” “Yes, of course.” This is the answer if someone asks me about the first time traveling in Europe. The new journey started to Pazardjik, Bulgaria during the ending of winter and beginning of spring in 2018.

Before one week to fly, we had a meeting to prepare ourselves and training. The VSA presentative was me and Yee, the host family and local partner in Nakonratchasima. For the perfect presentation project, we prepared the information to present and answer as much as we can.

“Taam to fly” I and my college, Yee, started to travel from Bangkok to Moscow first. Because of only 7 days of visa allowing to stay in Bulgaria made us wait for the flight for one day in Russia. we had time to explored a bit in Moscow. The time was around 9.30 p.m. when we arrived in Moscow, which was 4 hours behind Bangkok. Just the first stepping out from the plane, I can feel how the weather different was. The cold wind hit and shook my bones for thirty minutes before my college's Russian friend came to pick us up to the hostel while, Yee, she was enjoying the mouth breathing that made the wind out like smoke. After the one day trip in Moscow, we directly went to Bulgaria.

The way to get to Pazardjik was easy. After we arrived at Sofia Airport on arrival day, we took the metro to Iskarsko shose station and changed to take the train, then we met a trainer, Ivo, was waiting for us at Pazardjik train station. He took us to the hotel where we stayed and joined the activity.

“The warm welcome with sweet smiling from Navigator staffs.” The staffs welcomed us friendly at the hotel made me more comfortable.” The first meal was dinner on arrival day, I met many volunteers who had been working with Navigator organization, host project, and some participants from another voluntary organization. After finishing dinner, the Navigator's volunteers guided us about Pazardjik and we put ourselves in conversation to know more something each other. It was a nice day to meet the new friends.

In the first day for training, we did many activities such as icebreaking, and some kind of group games for making all participant know each other and visited the important destinations in Pazardjik by treasure hunting game. At the night that made me and Yee very proud to present about Thailand was the intercultural night. Thailand, Bulgaria, and Italy were the turn to present country. We brought the dried banana, dried mango, and tamarind filled salt and sugar. Yee with the beautiful Thai dressing cooked Pad Thai for everyone tested. That night, we taught another participant about the Thai language, showed a video about Thailand, and I wrote the Thai name for everyone. They were excited about their name in Thai alphabet. After finishing the presentation, everyone came to tested what we brought. I and Yee were happy because the food was finished by everyone, we were very happy when some of our group said “I love Thai food, I love Thai dressing, and I love Thailand.”

In the second day, we started training by the tree project. It was the structure of the project. We made the group and discussed the process and structure of the project. We talked in the small group what we should put first in the bottom or the top of the tree. Then, we learned SDGs. We divided the group and found the meaning of issues in SDGs, and shared what we discussed and learned in the small group to another group. At night was the second intercultural night presented by France, Turkey, and Spain. That night, I learned about French cheese that is a lot of kind of cheese. The Turkish food was delicious. I learned how to dance, the Spanish dance. It was a good dancing night with my new friends. Yes, now everyone became to be a friend. I can say we are “friend”.

During training week, we had one day for a field trip in Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria. We went together by bus. Thanks for Ivo and staffs for putting this program in the training course. The city was full of beautiful culture and history. Everyone was enjoyed and felt like we went back to live in the historical era of Bulgaria.

After field trip day, we continued the training activity. In the morning, we started by energizing outdoor, then moved to learn about the stereotype. We agreed the definition of stereotype should be both positive and negative meaning. After we broke short time, Alberto, a trainer, passed on some his experience and knowledge regarding the different stereotypes and cultures by role play. Then, Alberto talked about Mandala, it is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. The main aim that he wanted to show was how to present the project by the picture of Mandala. It made me very excited because it was a different way that I have ever presented. If now my pretty reader is reading on this line. I wrote “For the perfect presentation project, we prepared the information to present and answer as much as we can.”, the second paragraph above. The information and how to present were left all. Mandala was an easier way. I spent the time with my pretty motivation to draw Mandala by my best for 2 hours and discussed how to present by these with my college. Finally, the meaning of mine and Yee’s Mandala can link together. We were ready to present the project for tomorrow.

The last training day came. The time went so fast. In the morning, we started to present the project that we wanted to create after come back to Thailand by Mandala. In the afternoon, it was the final evaluation and finishing the training course. At night, we had a farewell party. We were crazy, drank, sang a song and danced together all night. Thank you to everyone that taught me every step dance. We finished the party almost early morning. In the morning, I and Yee left from Pazardjik to back to Thailand. It was a wonderful night. I will remember that party forever.

“All good things come to the end”, for one week was not too short and too long, it was enough for me, even though it was a great week and I did not want to say goodbye to everyone. Million thanks to 29 participants and staffs from Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, France, Turkey, Russia, and Thailand. Thanks for sharing the experience, thanks for getting more knowledge about SDGs and the process of the project. Thank you to Yee, my college in this trip. Thanks to my all pretty reader. Finally, I would like to thanks VSA organization who gave me a good opportunity for the first time traveling in Europe and learned the new experience.

Taam