From the 9th of June until the 16th of June 2022, Act Global Team left Bali to attend the second training course for “Social Media Literacy for Woman Rights”. Tria and Jasmine were selected as the representative of Act Global’s team to attend the training course in Bulgaria. This training course was a continuation of the one from Thailand, where each participating country was given tasks to complete. Act Global as a team from Indonesia, was given the task to produce 10 videos for this project, along with some other group tasks.
This is my first time participating in a project like this, so I was very excited, it was also my first time traveling to a European country. During the 8 days in Bulgaria, I learned many things such as what is FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and what women around the world are facing. I got to meet many wonderful people from different countries too, and learn a lot from them as we share our experiences and views on this matter. I also found it difficult to communicate with the locals as not many of them speak English. Bulgaria was a beautiful country with many historical monuments and buildings. One thing I do not find comfortable about the country, however, is that everyone smokes! They even smoke indoors, which in most countries and even in Indonesia is not generally allowed. However, I do love the city and I wish to return to Bulgaria one day!
Our journey started on the 8th of June 2022 when we departed from Ngurah Rai International Airport to our first transit in Kuala Lumpur. Tria was already waiting for me for 15 minutes before I finally arrived, we met at Gate B of the Departure Lobby. Our flight to Kula Lumpur was smooth and there was not much turbulence. In the plane, we scanned all our boarding passes to keep as documentation and as a report to the organization. We arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport around 4 pm. While getting off the plane, I got separated from Tria, she exited the airplane through the front door while I exited from the back door. When I went out and didn’t see Tria I almost panicked, I tried to call her but then remembered that we have no internet connection yet, so I went back in to look for her. It turns out she was waiting for me inside the gate. After we found each other, we went to old town white coffee to get some drinks and also ate dinner there. We talked about many things, from our personal experiences and also about Act Global and what we are going to do for the project. I learned many things about Act Global and what Tria told me made me more interested in the organization. After having dinner, we went to wait at the terminal, for our next flight to Doha which departed at 1 am, it was quite a long wait, but it was not too bad because we have a lot to discuss and work on while waiting.
During the flight to Doha, we slept most of the time and arrived at Doha around 5 am. Once we got off the plane, I and Tria went to the toilet to wash our face, brush our teeth, as well as change our clothes. We didn’t have to wait too long for our flight to Sophia as the next flight is at 9.50 am. Arriving at Sophia, we were welcomed by Octave and a participant from Italy named Aigul and we rode a metro train to our accommodation. The apartment provided was really cozy and nice and we even have a kitchen where we can cook our meals. We met Ivan, president of ICDET, at the apartment and he gave us some allowance to buy our meals for the day. After taking a nice warm shower after more than 30 hours of journey, I and Tria went to the grocery store to buy some ingredients to cook dinner. We also strolled around the neighborhood for a few minutes. I was also surprised that even at 9 pm in Bulgaria, it is still bright outside as if it is still at 6 pm. This is quite unusual for me as in Bali it is usually already dark from around 7 pm.
On our first day of the Training Course, we had breakfast with the other participants. We had Banitsa for breakfast which is a traditional Bulgarian breakfast. Banitsa also transliterated as banica and banitza is a traditional pastry dish made in Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Serbia, prepared by layering a mixture of whisked eggs, natural yogurt, and pieces of white brined cheese between filo pastry and then baking it in an oven. After breakfast, we briefly introduced other participants, consisting of teams from Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Capo Verde, Dominican Republic, Thailand, and of course Bulgaria. Each country is represented by 2 people. We were also introduced to Ava, vice president of ICDET.
After the introduction, we listened to a presentation from Sema Kekevi, ICDET team from Turkiye, through google meet. She presented about FGM or Female Genital Mutilation and how it is related to Woman Right Violation. I found this presentation to be very interesting as I have never heard of it before and it is very shocking to know that some people or tribes are practicing this inhumane deed. Girls from as young as a few weeks old may undergo FGM due to their family’s beliefs. And in many cases, some of these girls think that FGM is a normal thing.
Sema also shared a mobile application called “Women Support” (KADES) for victims of violence with the joint cooperation of Turkiye’s Family and Social Policies Ministry and Interior Ministry. This application seeks to ensure women reach the police forces and receive help when under any threat, with just one touch. In any dangerous situation, women can connect to the system at the touch of a button, which will automatically send details of their location to the police. This application brings a smart solution to the fight against violence inflicted upon women in Turkiye.
We started our second day with a morning briefing and we worked on the women’s rights video project. Today we stayed at the apartment the whole day to finish the video as well as make some corrections to the guide draft. In the evening, we had a google meet with Bosko, the coordinator of this event to present our work and what we have done for the project. From Indonesia, we presented our final campaign video, Italy and Dominican Republic presented the women’s rights situation in their countries, Cape Verde presented their plans for the podcast of the project, while Thailand presented their guidebook and methodology for the project.
On our third day, we also have a morning briefing before each of us went back to our own rooms to finish our tasks and like the first day, we had a short briefing at 6 pm to present what we have done for the day. The briefing was short as we had to start preparing for Intercultural Night. For the intercultural night. Each country has to prepare something that represents their country. Me and tria prepared fried rice, and stir-fried vegetables, and also prepared some snacks such as salted peanuts and other biscuits from Indonesia. The team from Thailand prepared Thai tea and Pad Thai, the Italians prepared Bruschetta with tomato on top, and the Spanish team prepared ham and Spanish omelets which for me is the best food of the night. There were many other drinks too from French, Bulgaria, Italy, Ukraine, and many other countries. The Dominican’s prepared for us some souvenirs such as pen, magnets, and even a small cup. Before we started our meal, each of the countries presented their countries and their culture briefly. We had a lot of fun, eating, drinking and also talking to each other. For me personally, this will be one of the most unforgettable experiences in my life.
On the 4th day, we went on a walking tour around Sofia with Ivan as the tour leader. We visited around 35 sites in Sofia, many of them were churches and cathedrals, national buildings, and also some of the remnants of the old city in Sofia dating back to BC times. Some of the places we visited include the Vasil Levski National Stadium, Borisova Garden National Park, Soviet Army monument, Sofia University, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Mosque Banja Bashi, Square of tolerance of Sofia, and many more. It was a very long tour and we had lunch very late in the evening, at around 4 pm, I had a kebab and the kebab was very good! We took a group picture at some spots and also at the official sign of Sofia. After that we split up and went to different destinations. Me, Tria, Ton, and Irene went together, we went to the so-called lovers bridge then found a cafe to chill and take a break. On our way back, we bought some waffles along the way and return back to our accommodation.
On the 5th day, we gather at the office at 7 am for our Journey to Plovdiv. The train leaves at 8.40 so we have to be there before 8.40. The seating on the train was surprisingly disorganized as the seat numbers are confusing and messy, and many people didn’t book the seats previously so we had to ask them to move from the seats that we reserved. The journey was far, it took us around 2 hours to get there by train and I slept for the most part of the trip. We arrived at Plovdiv at around 11.30 and we walked to a boulevard from where we had our lunch.
After lunch, we went for a hike to one of the 5 mountains in Plovdiv to take a panoramic view of the city. Along the way, Ivan explained to us the history of Plovdiv and how each of the homes there is a fortress of its own, windows were built high up and with bars to avoid people from breaking into their homes and kidnapping their family members. Buildings with more elaborate designs are a sign that the people living in it are rich. One thing I have to be careful of is the steps on the road, the steps uphill were made of stones and it was uneven, people can easily fall if they don’t watch their steps carefully. But even so, I did enjoy the day with the other participants as we were able to bond with each other more and create some more wonderful memories.
At that time, Tria also really enjoyed the biggest book fair festival in Plovdiv, 20th Literary Festival – Plovdiv Reads 2022 and “Book Alley”. Tria attended a storytelling session with Bulgarian female writer Petya Alexsandrova. Petya has been telling a story from her book, “Koy Pripka za Ribka” (Who’ll rush out for the fish). Fortunately, Tria got a volunteer to translate the story from Bulgarian to English, the essence of the story is how to raise cooperation in solving problems. From this journey, Tria was reminded that storytelling is the initial foundation when it comes to building human literacy. Human beings have long been fascinated by stories. The story is the basis for so many entertaining pastimes in our culture: books, poetry, dance, art, writing, and movies. Literacy not only enriches an individual’s life, but it creates opportunities for people.
On the 6th day, the Spanish participants, Mario, and his wife left at 5 am. Today we had a brief meeting to finalize our tasks and make sure everything was on track. During the meeting, some of the participants were asking me about the project video, how to edit it, and what to do with it. In the end, Ton helped the Dominican Republic participants to edit their video and audio because they didn’t know how to edit it. After finishing some of our work, I left with Ton and Aigul to eat at a restaurant at a nearby lake since Ton had to leave at 8 pm tonight. I was sad that we have to separate from each other and that the participants are leaving one by one. I hope that one day I will have the chance to meet all these wonderful people. And because this will be the last day for Irene to be in the city, I accompanied her to the City Center where we take a walk around the city and enjoyed the night view until 11 pm.
On the last day of the project, all the other participants left one by one leaving only me and Tria there as we extended our stay. We went on another walking tour in Sofia and there we met a Japanese student who was also traveling Europe. We spent the day together and talked about our travels and what we are going to do after our travels to Sofia. I was glad I joined this free walking tour as I was able to meet yet another person. On our last 2 days in Sofia, me and Tria spent our time buying souvenirs, packing our things, and also finishing an Info Pack for participants who will be joining the next training course which is going to be held in Bali from the 15th until 25th of July 2022.
Overall, this trip was a very meaningful and memorable experience for me, as it was my first time to a European Country, I was very excited to experience and learn new things, and that is exactly what I get! I was also given the chance to meet many wonderful people from different countries whom I would probably never meet if I didn’t participate in this project. This journey will forever be embedded in my memory.
Written by Jasmine & Tria.