CERMES Bulgaria (Centre for European Refugees, Migration and Ethnic Studies) and Caritas-Harmanli, Bulgaria with the support of the MATILDE project organized an initiative called  ‘Intercultural Gardens as Green Bridges’.

Intercultural gardens are green bridges that connect children from different countries and cultures, and all of us – children, teachers, parents, citizens – with nature.

Every culture poetizes nature. The rose is emblematic of the Bulgarian identity but as well the red rose is the national flower of Iran and Iraq. When we say tulip, we mean the Netherlands, but it is the national flower of both Turkey and Afghanistan. The Syrians worship jasmine, the Finns birch and lily of the valley.

On October 11, the initiative ‘Intercultural Gardens as Green Bridges’ was held in six schools in the town of Harmanli, Bulgaria and in the village of Bulgarin, Harmanli municipality.  Children from Bulgaria, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan planted flowers and saplings in the schools where they study, play and grow up together. After planting, there was a short intercultural program in each school with recitals, songs and dances, prepared by the students and their teachers especially for the event.

The ‘Intercultural Gardens as Green Bridges’ initiative is organized by the teams of CERMES (Centre for European Refugees, Migration and Ethnic Studies), Bulgaria and Caritas-Harmanli, Bulgaria. It is implemented with the support of the Matilde project (H2020).

The beginning of the initiative “Intercultural gardens as green bridges” was given in the school “Hristo Botev”, in the village of Bulgarin, where, despite the rain, students, including children from Bulgaria and Syria, with great enthusiasm welcomed the idea and plants and started with their planting. The students showed excellent knowledge of planting various trees and flowers.

At ‘Otets Paisiy’ School in Harmanli, Bulgaria the special intercultural program specially prepared for the event ‘Intercultural Gardens as Green Bridges’ delighted the guests with songs and dances performed by the students, as well as with an emotional recital of poems in Bulgarian by two students – from Iraq and Bulgaria.

Joint photo with the students and the principal of ‘Aleko Konstantinov‘ School in Harmanli, Bulgaria after the rich cultural program prepared by the students for the event ‘Intercultural Gardens as Green Bridges’. In the school are currently studying children from Iraq, Afghanistan and Bulgaria.

Students and teachers from „Neofit Rilski“ School in Harmanli, Bulgaria, are inspired by the idea of “Intercultural Gardens as Green Bridges” and during the cultural program they impressed the guests with performances of the dancers from a Folklore Club and the musical performances of Bulgarian folk songs and bagpipes. During the event the children happily planted one of the trees, right next to the school entrance. The teachers described the day of the initiative as a “day when the flowers turned out to be a kind of bridge between the children – representatives of different ethnicities and cultures.”