Bistra Ivanova is a migrant integration expert, cultural manager and social entrepreneur. She is co-founder and chairperson of Multi Kulti Collective (MKC). Bistra has solid experience in working on migrant/refugee integration, both on grassroot and policy level as a project manager, researcher and communication expert. She has been the country coordinator of the official EU portal on migrant integration EWSI since 2015. Since 2016, she has been the leading Bulgarian researcher in the biggest refugee integration EU project National Integration Evaluation Mechanism (NIEM). In addition, she is a project evaluator in the Ministry of Culture of Bulgaria (Socially Engaged and Community Arts Programme) and Robert Bosch Foundation (European and Cultural Clusters) since 2018.
Bistra holds a BA in Communications (Sofia University), and has specialized in Migration Policy (Central European University), Research methods (Amsterdam University), European Union Law and Policy on Immigration and Asylum (ULB - Université libre de Bruxelles) and Cultural Management (Sofia University). At the moment, she is completing two Master degrees – Management of Migration Process (University of National and World Economy) and Financial Management and Marketing (University of Finance, Business and Entrepreneurship).
Bistra was awarded Volunteer of the Year (2011), Darik’s 40 under 40 (2014), WEF’s Global Shaper (2014), she was also a finalist in Grazia’s Woman of the Year (2016) and was featured in the book “30 People who Change Bulgaria” (2019).
Kaloyan Yordanov is a founding member of Multi Kulti Collective, a member of its management board as of December 2013 and a deputy chair as of 2016.
He is attracted by the mission of the association to increase the public awareness of the foreign cultures and ethnic minorities in Bulgaria and to help their integration.
Kaloyan is a qualified lawyer with extensive professional experience, a member of the Sofia Bar Association and managing associate in Deloitte Legal Law Firm as of 2015. Between 2008 and 2015 he was a lawyer in the Bulgarian branch of CMS Cameron McKenna law firm, and between 2006 and 2018 a manager of the legal department of Bulgarian Home Loans.
Kaloyan holds a Master’s degree in Law from Sofia University and Master’s degree in Business Administration from New Bulgarian University.
Dr Zvezda Vankova is Multi Kulti Collective’s founder and first chairperson (until March 2016). She has been a member of the management board ever since. Dr Vankova holds a PhD in Law from the Maastricht University. She wrote her PhD dissertation on “Circular migration from the Eastern neighbourhood to the EU – the rights of migrant workers in Bulgaria and Poland”.
At present, Dr Zvezda Vankova has been awarded a two-year Rubicon grant by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) to conduct research at the Law faculty of Lund University (2019-2021). The topic she is currently working on is “Refugees as Migrant Workers. Labour Migration as Alternative for Refugee Protection in the EU Context?”.
Prior to joining the Law faculty of Lund University, Dr Vankova worked at the Department of European and International Law & Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and Mobility of Maastricht University. Dr Vankova was the Central Research Coordinator of the 2015 edition of the Migrant Integration Policy Index and worked as a Policy Analyst at the Migration Policy Group in Brussels. As a Researcher and Program Coordinator at the Law Programme of the Open Society Institute Sofia (2005-2013), Zvezda Vankova was an active participant in the development of Bulgarian immigration and integration policy through policy and legal analyses, advocacy work and capacity-building activities. Zvezda was selected by UNHCR Bulgaria to monitor the National Program for Integration of Refugees in Bulgaria as an independent expert in the period 2012-2014 and served as the Country Coordinator for the European Web Site on Integration (EWSI) for Bulgaria. She also conducted an independent monitoring report into immigration detention facilities in Bulgaria.
The main objective of the project Youth Debating the Future of Europe is to encourage democratic and civic participation of young citizens and give them an opportunity to express their concerns and vision towards common challenges related to European identity, diversity and the future of Europe.
In the twenty-first century, Europe has reached a crisis point in the construction of European identity. The last years a number of events that took place across Europe have challenged the main idea and the founding values of the European Union: the Eurozone crisis, the migration crisis and Brexit have led to an increase of Euroscepticism. As a consequence of the harsh situations that Europe faces, it is time for European citizens and especially for younger ones who soon will have to face the consequences of today’s situation, to get actively involved in the process of strengthening the European consciousness regarding the European Union and its future and realize that only through cross-border cooperation achievements can be reached towards that direction.
The future of Europe and the assurance of the European societies’ well-being are highly connected with the development of common objective and stronger participation in the EU public sphere between the member-states. The first step towards this direction has been done by the European Commission which has launched an open debate with the White Paper on the Future of Europe in order to provide opportunities to the citizens to discuss their concerns and their views for the future of Europe. Following this initiative, the project tends to give voice to young people from nine different European countries and provide them with the opportunity to express their concerns to the public sphere, to exchange their ideas, to produce their own suggestions and to generate a multicultural community dialogue concerning the future of Europe.
News and project developments:
- Newsletter #1 (May 2020)
Time frame: March 2020 – August 2021
Partners: Athens Network of Collaborating Experts (Greece) – leading partner), NOUS (Italy), Clube Intercultural Europeu (Portugal), Cross Cultural Bridges (Netherlands), Collegium for the Management and Design of Sustainable Development (KMGNE) (Germany), UNITED for Intercultural Action (Hungary), Young European Leadership (Belgium), Teleduca (Spain), Multi Kulti Collective (Bulgaria)
Funding: European Commission, Europe for Citizens Programme
Panayot Chafkarov has been part of the Multi Kulti Collective team since August 2014 as a researcher and project manager, playing a leading role in the development of the association's social enterprise. He has been a member of the Management Board since December 2019.
Prior joining Multi Kulti Collective, Panayot gained many years of experience as an entrepreneur and manager in the restaurant and IT industry. This allows him to expand our Multi Kulti network of migrant/refugee-owned restaurants in Sofia, with which he organizes catering, culinary courses and culinary team building.
As a student at the University of National and World Economy (then Higher Institute of Economics) Panayot was responsible for the numerous foreign students living in Studentski grad and supported their integration. Thus he developed strong intercultural skills and interest in the topic. Panayot has an impressive historical, geographical and ethnic knowledge, which he constantly develops through his work.
Diana Nedeva likes to experiment with social models based on collaboration, openness and empathy. She believes in the power of human potential and collective wisdom to create creative and sustainable positive change.
While on a youth exchange in Belgium, she discovered her first great passion - non-formal education and civil society organizations in general. This is the reason why she made a sharp turn, leaving the banking sector, and headed for her 7-month European Voluntary Service and then returned to Bulgaria to work (since 2013) as a coordinator. volunteers, project and cultural manager, trainer and facilitator.
Her main activity are:
- Development, coordination and management of local, national and European projects aimed at different groups - refugees and migrants, Roma, people with special needs, etc .;
- Development and conduct of trainings - using the principles and methods of non-formal education, on various topics such as global education, human rights, financial literacy, learning, social skills, facilitation, etc .;
- Co-creation of publications and online courses related to the ability to learn, development of key competencies (according to the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning) and global education;
- She is a co-founder of the Meeting Points Foundation, where she develps projects and initiatives aimed at solving social challenges, using artistic practices in the social sphere and cultural projects.
Her hobbies lead her to various forms of theater (improvisational, sensory, playback), clowning, aerial acrobatics and other things that are useful in her work. She is currently studying Art Therapy as a postgraduate qualification at NBU. She works with various NGOs in Bulgaria and Europe.
In Multi Kulti Collective, Diana works on projects aimed to support the local integration of young migrants and refugee women.
Computer programmer in the Institute for Literature. He performs technical activities and does photographic coverage of the project. Novak is an expert in digitalization of items of the cultural heritage in the project. Acquired a bachelor's degree in theology at Sofia University (2004) Fluent in written and spoken Russian and English.
The aim of the project Active European Citizens against Hate Speech is to raise awareness of the new generation of European citizens about the impact of hate speech on democratic participation and European values. Hate speech is often used as a tool to target different vulnerable groups, especially minorities, immigrants and refugees. It causes their alienation and exclusion which leads to marginalisation. Such narratives weaken democracy and strengthen positions of far-right and radical right populists and Eurosceptics.
The project will focus on the promotion of such democratic values such as civic and political participation, peaceful coexistence and diversity. Especially emphasizing the participation of new citizens (immigrants) and other minorities. The project activities will raise citizens’ awareness about the harmful impact of hate speech, promote European values and strengthen solidarity among young people through debates, networking and human rights education.
The key activities and outcomes of the project are:
- Research on the impact of hate speech on Euroscepticism and xenophobia in the EU, and in project partner countries in particular, and recommendations on how to decrease it;
- An international meeting of stakeholders and experts to discuss good practices and challenges in each partner country;
- 2 local events focusing on the roots and consequences of hate speech, its impact on Euroscepticism and perception of European values, and the effective ways how to empower the young generation to tackle hate speech and promote civic and political participation;
- An international conference with participation of young people, minority representatives, stakeholders, experts, NGOs, and policy makers to present the outcomes of the project and discuss further challenges that need to be addressed on EU level;
- Dissemination of the project objectives, activities and results through different communication channels.
Time frame: March 2020 – August 2021
Partners: Latvian Human Rights Centre (Latvia) – leading partner, Participation for All (Latvia), Estonian Human Rights Centre (Estonia), Human Rights Monitoring Institute (Lithuania), Human Rights House Zagreb (Croatia), Peace Action Training and Research Institute of Romania – PATRIR (Romania), Multi Kulti Collective (Bulgaria)
Funding: European Commission, Europe for Citizens Programme
Head image: Rositsa Raleva for Fine Acts
Co-creation and First Steps of Multi Kulti Urban Garden
Multi Kulti Garden is an open and democratic place for a meeting between Bulgarians and foreigners, which supports the two-way integration process through shared cultivation of edible and decorative plants from all over the world, organising community and cultural events and exchanges. The garden empowers migrants, refugees and the local community by including them in a project to co-create a multicultural city garden where they will have their own ideas, views, as well as spices, herbs, vegetables from their countries of origin. Studies have shown that soil and plant work has a beneficial impact and reduces levels of stress and anxiety. In many European countries it is being applied as a light therapy for refugees and migrants who are just getting used to their new country, as well as for all who live under stress.
The garden also aims to:
(1) develop a community around it actively looking for sustainable green urban solutions related to waste reduction and recovery, improving air cleanliness, enhancing urban spaces, creating urban oases,
(2) create a sustainable model for green urban innovation that can be applied elsewhere for social purposes,
(3) assist Sofia Municipality in promoting and implementing its green policies,
(4) put Sofia on the map of good European practices in the field of sustainable urban development through community agriculture.
The idea for the garden was born after a one-year collaboration with the CasciNet association in Milan on a TANDEM Europe project “New Roots: Migrants meet Communities through culture, agriculture and food“, in which we organised a multicultural festival in Milan in October 2018. Inspired by his success, we want to create such a multicultural garden in Sofia as well as the New Roots Festival in September 2019. Multi Kulti Collective invited Ilona Angelova and arch. Nikola Vasilev (part of UrbaCulture team) to design, build and facilitate the events at the garden together.
The garden is part of the Multi Kulti Center in Sofia (5, Chernomen Str.). Тhe space is provided free of charge by our partners Caramel.bg – a French bakery owned by Hany Tawk. They are part of our community and shared garden too. The garden also offers a green solutions for the center itself – it often hosts cooking classes hosted by migrant chefs. The biodegradable waste from the classes will be composted, and spices and vegetables will be grown by its community.
Want to join?
The garden is open to all residents and visitors of Sofia, Bulgarians, foreigners, young people, adults, representatives of all vulnerable groups. You are welcome to take care of it together! If you have a collaboration idea, please email us! Follow the Multi Kulti Facebook page as well as the special garden group for more information.
News and updates:
- The project received the national award Volunteer Initiative of the Year given by the President of Bulgaria (6 Dec 2019)
- New Roots Festival (26 Oct 2019)
- Urban Garden Multi Kulti, vol. 6 – The Final event (14 Oct 2019)
- Urban garden Multi Kulti, vol. 5 – Looking for gardeners (26 Sept 2019)
- Urban garden Multi Kulti – Co-creation vol. 4: Work continues (30 July 2019)
- Urban Gardening in Bulgaria and Around the World – an interview with Dona Pickard, PhD (in Bulgarian) (27 July 2019)
- Urban garden Multi Kulti – Co-creation vol. 3: Building (28 June 2019)
- Urban garden Multi Kulti – Co-creation vol. 2: Planting (30 May 2019)
- Urban garden Multi Kulti – Co-creation vol. 1: Site preparation (24 April 2019)
Time frame: March – October 2019
Funding: Sofia Municipality under the Social Innovation Programme 2019