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Varna of the Young People - an Interview with Assoc. Prof. Marinela Grudeva

In May and June,Assoc. Prof. MarinelaGrudeva, a lecturer at the Health CareDepartment, at the Faculty of Public Health at MU - Varna, received two awards from the Municipality of Varna - recognition of her long public activity.

On 10th May Assoc. Prof. Grudevawas awarded with a diploma and a medal of the Mayor of Varna for her contribution to the development of the organized extracurricular activities in Varna and on 8th June she received a plaque of the Mayor of Varna Municipality for her contribution to the development of the youth policy of Varna Municipality, in relation to the implementation ofthe Tenth National Youth Exhibition in Varna.

Assoc. Prof. Grudeva, besides the researchon the state of the extracurricular activities in the countryand the models for its improvement, which were developed by you, what else still adds upto your contribution to the organized extracurricular activities in Varna?

Maybe I should start with my monograph on "Pedagogy of Extracurricular Activities", which was published in 2004. Today it is used as a methodological tool by almost all the centresand complexes for extracurricular work with children in our country. It is a textbook for the Master'sProgramme"Social Work with Children" at the Technical University of Varna.Moreover, it is a part of the compulsory training material for the Pedagogic specialties at Sofia University St. KlimentOhridski.

You have been an expert on problems with extracurricular activities at the Ministry ofEducation, Youth and Science and a Director of the Municipal Children Complex in Varna.

Yes, that's right. As an expert on extracurricular activities at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science in the period of 1990 – 1993, I had the opportunity to participate in the restructuring and the contentrenewal of the organized extracurricular activities with children in our country, as well as in the development of the new status of the centresfor working with children. As a Director of the Municipal Children Complex in Varna,I contributed to its strengthening and development as the period, when I was its manager, coincided with a period which turned out to be quite crucialfor the survival of the local children's complexes.

Would you tell us something more about your contribution to the development of the youth policy of Varna Municipality?

In general, the activities in this field are diverse and multi-faceted. This was the period of the establishment of the basis for the development of effective local policies concerning youth by establishing the first and the only one of its kind in the country-structural unit of the Department of Youth Activities and Sports. In my capacity asthe Head of this Department, Iwas able both to initiate and to take part in various projects. Moreover, I was a coordinator of three long-term community initiatives for working with young people. One of them is the "Youth Forum on Partnership with Local Authorities".It has been going on for 7 years and has brought together over 80 youth non-governmental organizations from Varna, as well as the student councils of the higher education establishments in Varna. "Youth Exchange of Ideas and Projects" is the second project that I have coordinated.It has been underway for over 12 years. In connection with the 10th anniversary of the initiative, in 2011, I received an honorary diploma of Varna Municipality for outstanding contribution to its creation and implementation, which was a great honour for me. The competition of Varna Municipality "For the Best Diploma Thesis", which our students have won a number of times, is a part of the "Youth Exchange of Projects and Ideas". The third project, which has been implemented for 5 years, is "For One Good Deed" - a joint activity ofVarna Municipality  with RIE (Regional Inspectorate of Education), District Police Directorate, Regional Department "Fire Safety and Population Protection", Regional Management of BRC (Bulgarian Red Cross). The main objective of the project is to give publicity to the best deeds of young people. We have created an email address for receiving information from the public. We also obtain information from partner institutions about their young employees who have done good deeds beyond their official duties. We have received strong support from the media. After collecting and summarizingthe information, the young people who have done good deeds are awarded by the Mayor of Varna on formal meetings andreceive publicity through appearances in the media.

We know that you are one of the founders and the authors of the only one of its kind in Varna newsletter "Varna of the Young People", an issue of the Municipality of Varna – "Youth Activities and Sports"Department and the eponymous site of the Department. Please, tell us a bit more about your activities in the field of youth policy.

From 2005 to 2008, when I was the head of the "Youth Activities and Sports" Department at Varna Municipality,I had the opportunity to assist and coordinate the activities in this direction. I was a co-author and a project manager for the construction of the "Youth Information and Counseling Centre" in Varna, which has been functioning for more than 5 years, and of the "Youth Volunteer Service"related to it, set up under a European model. Furthermore, I wasboth the team leader for the development of the extended status of the "National Youth Exhibition" and for its organization and annual implementation (youth and non-governmental organizations across the country take part in the exhibition). It has already been implemented for 10 years, hosted by Varna Municipality. I am a co-author of the two editions of the study "Young People and the Local Authorities under Conditions of Democracy - Questions and Answers", issued by the Municipality of Varna and the "Youth Forum on Partnership with the Local Authorities".