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Jun 27, 2018

Final Career Workshops for the School Year

Asya and the volunteers of one workshop
Asya and the volunteers of one workshop

Dear supporter,

Our #StepforBulgaria team is excited to share with you the latest news with our ongoing mission to Fast-Track Career Development for At-Risk Youths!

The past couple of months were an exciting and busy time for our Career workshops! Step for Bulgaria's team was joined by, among many applicants, Asya, a Career Workshops/ Counseling consultant with a variety of Human Resources experience to offer to our youths and our volunteers. As you can see from the photo, Asya jumped straight into action and in short time was able to gather and prepare many new successful professionals for productive interactions with the students we work with. In the span of less than 2 months, she coordinated and helped coordinate a total of 6 workshops for the high schoolers in Kostinbrod, Novi Iskar and Lyulin. We are happy and privileged to have her on our team :)

Here is the story of one of the workshops:

A teacher from the Kostinbrod high school we work with, Radi, reached out to us to see if we could help with her initiative to organize a Career Forum for the youths. Many of them we had worked with in our previous motivational workshops, but students would be invited from all over the town (there's one more high school in Kostinbrod). So we jumped to the challenge.

Not knowing who we'd be working with, Asya tried to gather and prepare a diverse portfolio of volunteers for the event. And diverse it was - we had volunteers from the HR, Finance, IT, Journalism, Social and Educational sectors. Upon brainstorming the game plan for the workshop and how to make the most of it for the most students, the team also envisioned that participation would be a challenge - the event was held in the town library - a place infrequently visited by anyone, let alone high schoolers! The solution? Everyone got to work to gather students from our target age with nothing to do from around the town square, and they all pitched in to make a poster out of post-its to lure the students to have a look at the volunteer's professional experiences and interests, and to add their own alongside. You can a couple of the post-it's on our last photo :)

The initiative worked, and slowly but surely, the room we had allocated began to fill up with students. The first part of the workshop included a short question and answer session designed as an icebreaker, but also a way to let everyone huddle up and get to know who they might be talking to. Check out the students Dimitar, an IT volunteer, is introducing himself to - half of them decided to join the workshop straight from the football pitch!

In the second part of the workshop, each of the volunteers invited whoever it was among the students they left an impression on to have a more in-depth discussion about their career plans, and offered their advice and contact as a continuation. Despite his sporty personality, Dimitar attracted the attention not of the footballers but of a couple of other students who sat in on the event from the sidelines, yet, they actually did dream of growing into IT professionals. This resonates with a consistent lesson we learned throughout this pilot year of career workshops - it takes time, interest, understanding, and a genuine effort to reach out and be beneficial to the students who might need it the most.

As the school year draws to a close by the end of the month, we have now engaging our volunteers to systematize this and other lessons gathered from the past school year so as to prepare to hit the ground running in the next one. Watch out for our next report to learn what follows!

Until then, thanks once more for allowing us to do what we do.

Best regards,

Dancho and the Step for Bulgaria team

P.S. If you like what we do, please consider becoming a recurrent donor! Check out and share our other projects, too, at Mentoring Program for Underprivileged Youth and Teach life skills to children without parents!

Dimitar, an IT volunteer, with some students
Dimitar, an IT volunteer, with some students
Dimitar going in-depth into how to get a job in IT
Dimitar going in-depth into how to get a job in IT
Post-its
Post-its
Jun 27, 2018

A new wave of Mentees

Mentor picking
Mentor picking

Dear supporter,

Our #StepforBulgaria team is excited to share with you the latest news with our ongoing mission to provide a Mentoring Program for Underprivileged Youth!

June 12th marked our first-in-a-long-time new meet and greet of future new mentors and mentees! The introduction went incredibly well, and we are happy to report that it was attended by almost double the students, 19, instead of the 10 we had planned for, and still, there were a few who could not attend. All the more reasons for organizing another round soon :) 

Here's the full story:

After a series of structured conversations with our more experienced volunteers, we gathered everyone's opinion that the youths we have the privilege to come to know by means of our Career Workshops - and who express an interest in being paired with an individual mentor - should be allowed to pick their own mentor instead of them being artificially paired to one (by us) according to our knowledge of their shared professional and personal interests. So, we decided to gather a team full of diverse professionals and, in a manner much like our Career Workshops, invite them to come meet the students. The difference came from the fact that the focus of the conversation this time was not "how to structure my CV", but rather "how to pick somemone whom I can learn the most from".

The pretext allowed the students to go around the classroom in an informal setting and "shop" for the best mentors around. The results: out of 8 volunteers, 5 were occupied by 1 or more students by the end of the 2-hour ordeal. The other 3, alongisde a group of new volunteers, are currently hosting an open day event at their company to meet a few more of the students :) We eager to find out and let you know, too, what happens next in our next report, so stay tuned!

Thanks once more for allowing us to do what we do.

Best regards,

Dancho and the Step for Bulgaria team

P.S. If you continuously like what we do, please consider becoming a recurrent donor! Check out and share our other projects, too, at Teaching Life Skills to Children without Parents and Fast-Track Career Development for At-Risk Youths!

Getting to know each other in depth
Getting to know each other in depth
Newly formed mentoring pair :)
Newly formed mentoring pair :)
Mar 29, 2018

Imagining your dreams and delivering others'

Paying it forward presents
Paying it forward presents

Dear supporter,

Our #StepforBulgaria team is excited to share with you the latest news with our ongoing mission to Teach life skills to children without parents! 

Since December, we continued working individuallyand in group with many of our youths. To be precise, we organized 4 different workshops and events, and we engaged directly with a total of 25 parentless youths, new and old to our program. The events were aimed at, in this order, 1) helping the youths demonstrate their talents and learn more about their applications at a career-concert-charity event; 2) teaching them to visualize their dreams so as to plan their individual routes to achieving them; 3) learning to recognize and be mindful of their achievements, and 4) integrating a pay-it-forward mindset in all they do for higher motivation.

To avoid taking up your day with a lengthy post (and to use our "better" photos!), we've decided to tell you in more detail about 2 of all stories in particular. If you'd like to learn about the others, too, we'd love to share, please, just drop us a line at info@stepforbulgaria.org :)

 

1) Learning to recognize one's own achievements can lay the groundwork for taking the next step in your personal development. To help our youths make many steps forward, we decided to boost our group's morale by throwing an event aimed at demonstrating the impact of their own achievements to themselves and helping them learn to recognize it. We made the best use of our fortunate timing and combined the event with the celebration of the consequtive birthdays of two of the most experienced youths in our program, Stelian and Andrey. In the photos, you can see us preparing their birthday cakes with Ivan, our accomplished pastry-chef-youth, and Stelian and Andrey about to blow the candles, thinking of their next accomplishment :)

The birthday party pretext allowed us to pool a large crowd of almost all current and some new members of our program. Unbeknownst to them, by coming to celebrate Stelian and Andrey's birthdays, they came to celebrate themselves as well. Over many smiles and laughs and an entire evening, we all huddled together to discuss what each had achieved during the year, and what they planned to do in the next one.

 

2) One of our internal goals as an organization is to motivate and empower an active community of volunteers to help youths in underprivileged circumstances, with and without our help. For Christmas, we wanted to support the first-time initiative of one of our own active volunteers, Velina, who had the idea to collect and package gifts for youths whose parents were in prison. So, we gathered a group of 5 youths and 5 volunteers, and right before Christmas we headed to Velina's church's basement, where she had been gathering the gifts over the past month. In the photos, you can see us working together to wrap the gifts and, of course, the final product that went out delivered as presents. More importantly than the presents though, in the process of making them, our youths learned about teamwork (we had a production line!) and about the motivation that comes for achieving by learning how to pay forward the products of your achievement.

 

Finally, a teaser of what's to come: earlier in the year we invested significant time and effort do develop the program's strategy in a way that's more focused and results-oriented than ever before. Do be excited to hear about our next report!

Thank you for allowing us to do what we do.

Best regards,

Dancho and the Step for Bulgaria team

Preparing to celebrate
Preparing to celebrate
Celebrating x 2
Celebrating x 2
Paying it forward workshop
Paying it forward workshop
 
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