Some trips are life-changing

Story by: Vladislav Petkov
Country of origin: Bulgaria
Country of destination: United States

vladiiiThere is more than one way to travel. One option is to move physically from one place to another, but not really to learn and interact. Then, you can be moving and learning, but the learning would not always justify the efforts and resources of the travel. And then there are trips which are life-changing – they influence you so much that you start thinking about changes and then you make them. My trip to the U.S. within the Building Grassroots Democracy in Minority Communities program was from the third kind.

vladitThe six weeks in the U.S. and especially the 21 days in Wichita, Kansas, have impacted me more than I expected and have made me reflect on my believes, question my approach and re-think my development path. I was reminded how “grassroots community organization” is supposed to look like and operate and what it stands for. I was challenged to switch my perception of community organizing from “This will never happen” to “We should definitely try this!”. I took a lot and I tried to give a lot. I’ve stored knowledge, collected materials, gathered contacts, shaped partnerships, but more importantly – I’ve made friends. I was able to experience living in the U.S. which have made me even more motivated to work for building and organizing communities.

Because the way from a porch conversation to a real campaign that changes lives is not so long. It just takes courage, determination and allies – organized people. And I feel that even if this was the only thing to learn during my U.S. experience, it would still be worth it!