It all started with a trip from Sofia via Cyprus and the final destination Latvia. Beautiful and peaceful country. The purpose of our trip was an Erasmus + project called Counter Hate. Other three people and me were representing Bulgaria and association Alternativi International.
We arrived in Riga, the capital of Latvia, on 1 June 2019. The day went a little walk around the city, then we took the train and headed for Saulkrasti, where we were settled. We were in a very cozy and quiet hotel in the forest just across the Baltic Sea.
On the event we had people from Latvia, Bulgaria, Spain and Austria. The first day started the real part. We gathered all the countries in one place and started with different games to try to remember all 16 names.
We gave out signs, on the back of which there was a week-long program, which was tailored to have time for almost everything. The day went to explore each other, and during the breaks we were gathering and playing volleyball. The second and third evenings were scheduled as “International Evenings,” in which two countries are presenting themselves. First we were Bulgaria and Austria. At the tables we offered various traditional appetizers, cheese and desserts. There was traditional Bulgarian music. We studied the rest of Bulgarian people. We finished the evening at some time during the night, and the second was the way the Spanish and the hosts had to represent their country.
In the middle of the project, we went to a café that held “Free speech” in Riga. There we met two more Latvians, who were also Erasmus +, but as volunteers for one year. We talked a little about them, and then the rest of the day was free. The weather was sunny and warm and we managed to make a big city tour. In the evening we went back to Saulkrasti and made a barbecue in the courtyard of the hotel.
Over the rest of the day, we focused on “Hate Speech”. We watched various videos on youtube with interviews of people from different ethnicities and inclinations that told them how they perceived them. After watching the videos, we commented on the cause of the division between people and the whole hatred. At one of the interviews, we were divided into several teams, each with two people, and we were given some topics. One group had to defend the specific subject and the other to be against.
The week passed quite fast , I met so many new people from different countries who told us interesting facts about their countries. I learned how prevent hate speech in social medias and in life.
From our stay in Latvia and the theme we developed, it appears that, consciously or not, much of the population often uses expressions in social networks and in real life that offend and hurt a person. Unfortunately, hatred and human malice are one of the reasons for such negative comments that people suffer from depression and end their lives.