A school friend who wants to study in Germany, a cousin working as a waiter in Dresden or a father day laborer in Munich… Only last year 39 000 Bulgarians have decided to immigrate in Germany. Almost 10 per cent of the Bulgarian population lives and works abroad. Bulgaria is sometimes called “Land of Emigrants”. With the Bulgarian EU-membership and the upcoming entry in the Schengen Area such classifications seem blurred since the southern Bulgarian border will become also an outer border of the Schengen Area and thus change its significance. Exactly these blurred and variable borders were the main topic of the project “border\lines”.

Workshop and photo experiment
In the two-day workshop on the 16th and 17th of June, students from the 9th, 10th and 11th grade of different grammar schools in Ruse were introduced to the topic “borders”:  Where do borders run today? Of what importance is emigration, for instance to Germany, for the family and for the friends? What is the life of immigrants in emigrant Bulgaria, in Bulgaria outside the Schengen Area? Djaved Nouri, who came 7 years ago from Afghanistan to Sofia and who still doesn’t have a residence permit, told the young people of his problems in Bulgaria. Two volunteers from The Red Cross in Sofia, Boris Bongalov and Liubomira Labova, guided the workshop. In December 2010 the Red Cross in Sofia has started the project Positive Images as part of an EU-campaign in order to raise the awareness of migrants in Bulgaria. In the second part of the project students split into smaller groups and tried to distinguish the visible and the invisible borders in our surroundings – equipped with single use and digital cameras. Yavor Sedyankov, who has cooperated with the International Elias Canetti Society for many photo projects, acompanied the students as a professional photographer. The results of the photo experiment were presented on the 24th of June and were exhibited in the Canetti House.

Documentary and discussion evening
The documentary The Bulgarian Guantanamo reveals the shocking state of the Bulgarian refugee camp in Busmantsi. The writer and journalist Ivan Kulekov conducted interviews with refugees, former inhabitants, lawyers and camp administration. The documentary is an insight in personal tragedies and examines the differences between the Bulgarian and the European refugee laws. Djaved Nouri also participated in the film. After the filmscreening on the 16th of June, he discussed the current state of the refugee camp near Sofia with Zornitsa Ganeva. Zornitsa Ganeva wrote her Master thesis at the University of Ruse on topic Human Trafficking and is an active volunteer at Caritas Ruse.

The project was realized with the financial support of The German Embassy in Sofia. We would like to thank the Red Cross and all the participating grammar schools.