08.05.2024 14:31

On March 29 and 30, the final meeting between students and mentors from the program “Mentorship Support for Roma Students Enrolled in Medical Studies” took place in the city of Sofia. This meeting was filled with mixed emotions, as the program which has been running for 6 years, is coming to an end. Various activities were organized, which not only helped the professional development of the participants but also their personal contributions to the community.

On the first day of the meeting, with the help of guest lecturer Vesi Deyanova and Ognyan Isaev, students and their mentors expanded their self-awareness through reflective questions and acquainting themselves with the principles of the Johari window.

The day continued with reflections on therapeutic communication and the importance of hospitality in a professional context. Under the guidance of Anna Claire Town and Kostadin Topchiev from InnovAid Bulgaria, participants immersed themselves in exploring communication with care for the feelings and emotions of patients, which is essential for their future practice. As part of InnovAid’s tradition, each participant was invited to express their gratitude in an unconventional way – by writing something they are thankful for on a leaf-shaped piece of paper. Collected and glued together, these leaves formed a tree of gratitude. Many expressed gratitude for the sun (after all, temperatures reached up to 26 degrees Celsius). Nevertheless, participants fully engaged in the event, staying in the room and missing out on the good weather outside, for which the TSA team can be thankful!

Greetings during the meeting were also extended by Elitsa Markova from the Open Society Institute – Program Manager of the Active Citizens Fund Bulgaria and Sarah Perrine – Chief Executive Officer of the Trust for Social Achievement. The evening was illuminated by actress Nataliya Tsekova with her solo performance “The Taste of Life,” which added an exceptionally soulful dimension to the event.

Saturday began with a more personal topic – Roma identity, language, and culture. Nataliya Tsekova and Ognyan Isaev, along with students and their mentors, engaged in discussions about the path of effective good examples in the Roma community. Participants had the opportunity to test their knowledge of the Roma language, to learn about famous Roma people, and to discuss ideas such as the successful co-existence of their Roma identity and their own ambitions and professional goals.

The final session, led by journalist Violeta Draganova, explored communication as a tool and resource for success and efficiency. Themes of ethical norms, team communication, and relationships were of vital importance for our future medical specialists.

Despite the end of the program and the uncertainty about the future program period, the event left hope and inspiration for continuing mentorship as an important tool for the development of education and society as a whole. Students and their mentors leave this program with inspired hearts and readiness to continue to positively influence their communities and to be good examples for those who come after them.

The program team and the Trust for Social Achievement team would like to extend their gratitude to all of the scholars, mentors, volunteers, and other people involved in the program for their dedication and support.

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