Monday, February 24, 2014

Collaboration at It's Finest

Spring is coming and on the 1st of March Bulgarians celebrate Baba Marta Day. We’ve decided to begin preparing  in advance, so this is the right time to start making Martenitsas. Martenitsa is a traditional small piece of decoration, made of white and red thread, worn as a bracelet in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece and Romania.

Infinite Opportunities Association has been invited to attend the Martenitsa workshop in National Ethnographic Museum. This master class was organized with the help of CVS-Bulgaria for refugee children.
We have gladly accepted the invitation and visited the workshop. It has been great time not only for children, but also for their teachers and, of course, us. We learned how to made martenitsas-bracelet and dolls. It’s easier to make the bracelet working together, so it was a great practice for working in pairs.

Giorgia, the CVS Bulgaria volunteer, introduced us to children and we had a small conversation with them about hate speech, discrimination and human rights. This workshop was the chance to get to know each other. At the times, great collaborations start from unexpected meetings like this one. A few ideas have already came into our minds and we hope bring them to life together with CVS-Bulgaria.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Awareness raising @ Sofia University / Повишаване на информираността @ Софийски Университет

What is a successful street action? It is when all the conversations you had spreading the word about the No Hate Speech Movement are carefully listened to and when a passerby stops to ask for more info about the movement, because he’s seen the heart sign before. 
Collecting faces against hate speech #4. To be continued…

Какво е успешна улична акция? Това е, когато всички разговори разпространени не на Езика на омразата са внимателно слушани и минувач спира да попита за повече информация за движението, защото е видял знака със логото - сърце. 
Събиране на лица срещу речта на омразата # 4. Следва продължение ...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Has Facebook became more tolerant? Decide by yourselves.

Starting the end of last week Facebook users can specify their gender and sexual preferences more precisely. The social network increased personal gender options to more than 50. Every FB-customer can identify themselves using more than one category, for example: Female, Cis, Cis Female, Cis Gender, Cis Woman, etc. At this moment this option can be used only by users with accounts in English version of social network.

For example, Facebook offers a great choice for transgender: from trans - a general category that encompasses all transgender categories, to more meaningfull narrow categories, like trans -Female, -Male, -Man, -Person. There are also variants of genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, two spirit and pangender, and agender. Customer also can choose Intersex, Gender Fluid, Androgyne, Neutrois, Bigender or Neither.

Unsurprisingly, this improvement evoked a lot of criticism. One of the opinions suggest removing the gender and sexual preference information from social network completely. It would be much more honest, they proclaim. This change is definitely a politically correct novation, but it also may have been done to improve marketing part of the Facebook business (if a customer fills in all the lines in profile basic Information, Facebook can distinguish users into different target groups. This way it becomes much easier to offer relevant advertising). Another opinion suggests that it would be better not to give option Cis-gender, because this term is not regularly used by traditional sexual orientation and gender identity people and it may cause confusion, why they should identify themselves as Cis from now on.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

One day devoted to the Safer Internet

After open call for primary school students organizers of the Safer Internet Action Day (SID) in Bulgaria have received around 1 000 letters, drawings, pictures, sculptures from dozen schools all over the country. 
The coordinator of this event, Georgi Apostolov, told us that he was pleasantly surprised about the number of participants, because it was not a competition, just a proposal. The title of the exhibition “The hero is you” was supposed to show that everyone has a possibility to become a small hero through his or her online and offline behavior”. You can visit this exhibition online.
The exhibition was just a small part of the bigger event that took place at the Information office of European Parliament in Sofia on the on the 11th of February. 
Each year people across all over the world celebrated Safer Internet Day (SID). The main purpose of this initiative is to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and youngsters. SID 2014 was announced with the strapline “Let’s create a better internet together”.
Within the framework of SID action day in Sofia primary students, teachers, social workers, social activists and members of different NGOs had an opportunity to listen the speeches of Mr.Ognyan Zlatev (Head of the EU Representation in Sofia), Mr. Hristo Monov (chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Children, Youth and Sports) and Mrs. Eva Zhecheva (chairperson of the State Agency for Child Protection). Participants of the conference also observed the demonstration of a new educational online game "Family duels".

The Conference ended with performances by Good Music Society, Maverick and Tune UP music bands.
Nevertheless, we were not only listening to the lectures and presentations but had the possibilty to talk to some members of the audience and to Georgi Apostolov himself. He explained how the Safer Internet Commitee is giving workshops and trainings in schools all over Bulgaria for teachers, students and children to enhance the critical thinking of their own social behaviour in online environment. His ideas inspired us and we hope that we can learn a lot from them.
Interesting discussion with Georgi Apostolov
No Hate Speech Movement even got musicial support!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

“It is not a real world, it is just the Internet”

 A young guy told us: “I don’t care about that stuff that is going on internet. I strongly believe that people, who care too much about bulling or cyberstalking have mental disorders.” His friends had nothing to add. We asked this boy and his friends about their personal experience on internet. Did they know about the idea of the Safe Internet? “Yes, I heard that terrible story about Amanda Todd”, - said a beautiful young girl, “But, you know, he (she pointed on that guy, which just seconds ago told us about his thoughts) does not care because it can never happened with him. He is too popular in our school”. Young people around started supportive remarks: “Yeah, we don’t need your information about No Hate Speech and about Safety on Internet. We don’t care and you also shouldn't be so serious about it”.

We had this short conversation yesterday, on the Safer Internet Day, in the Sofia Park around National Palace of Culture. Sun was shining brightly, not a single cloud was on the sky. On the day like this, you feel like it is the middle of the spring. In a few days Valentine’s Day will be celebrated and one wants to forget about everything that is anxious, scary, thrilling and unpleasant. However, ignoring such thoughts does not deny its existence.

The street activity that we performed on the occasion of the Safe Internet Day was another one of our, already almost traditional “Collecting faces against hate speech” street actions. The main purpose and the fundamental goal we want to achieve is to raise awareness about safe internet and no hate speech movement. We don’t need to change the world. We start small:  it will change itself if we change the attitude.

During our action we experienced that many people accept idea of tolerance and no hate speech as natural mode of life. Therefore we hope talking to them, giving them more information about relevant sources, institutions and NGOs functioning in this field did contribute to our ultimate goal of spreading awareness. We are quite excited that the above-mentioned chat with the group of teenagers was rather exception, than a rule. It is natural to meet people, which have strongly opposite values from those of your own. To convince somebody to change their minds is hard in a short talk. Changing or forming of the beliefs is long and sometimes painful process. Nonetheless, it can also be enjoyable and relievable experience.

What have we learned from yesterday’s experience?  We should do more. And we will do it! Follow us on twitter or check out the  IOA fb-page and website and you will discover new actions and news. Your Picture is not in here? See the rest of the pictures in the gallery of our website or on our Facebook page.

Let’s make the internet a better place together!