In 2018, The Atlantic Club of Bulgaria (ACB) and its youth organization the Bulgarian Euro-Atlantic Youth Club (BEAYC), with the support of NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division, launched the project “NATO Youth Ambassadors”. The project was dedicated to NATO’s #WeAreNATO campaign and had the following objectives:
- to raise awareness among the youth about the role of NATO and its activities;
- to provide support for Alliance policies;
- to acquaint young people with Bulgaria’s national priorities in the field of foreign policy and its contribution to the collective security and defense system.
The project encompassed the creation of three educational videos within the period of July – September 2018 (“70 Years #WeAreNATO”; “70 Years Peace in Europe”; and “Unity is Our Force”) and the organization of 20 trainings for high school students in several cities and towns in Bulgaria, in the period of September – October 2018: Sofia, Veliko Turnovo, Vidin, Pazardzhik, Plovdiv and Varna.
The topics of the videos were chosen so as to contribute to increase awareness and understanding of NATO and its role in the global security, as well as to build support for collective defense (Article 5 of the Washington Treaty). The videos were disseminated via ACB’s and BEAYC’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube), as well as via national TV broadcasters, and were used for educational purposes during the trainings in the next stage of the project.
The target groups of the trainings were not only young people as a whole, but those who represented minority groups as well. The trainings included the introduction of the concept of common defense, the role of NATO as protector of its citizens, the role of Bulgaria in the common defense policy and its contribution to the Alliance. The youngsters were trained how to spread the word about causes they cared about – using promotional and creative instruments, such as making a video or design, or organizing a social media campaign. In this way, they were presented with skills that would be useful in their future, in order to be actively engaged in civil dialogue – within their own communities, but also on a national level. At the end of each training, participants would fill-in a short feedback form on how their knowledge and understanding of NATO had increased, and what had changed in the way they perceived NATO’s role and Bulgaria’s NATO membership. This feedback was then used to evaluate the results from the trainings and for the purposes of adjustment and improval of the methodology for the upcoming trainings within the scope of the project.
As a follow-up of the trainings, the young people would test their new knowledge and skills by creating their own projects explaining the role of the Alliance through their own point of view. The final phase of the project included a contest based on a video, essay or design on “What would the world be like without NATO?”. A special jury selected 29 of the most impressive works and their authors were accordingly selected as the first NATO Youth Ambassadors to spread their knowledge and understanding of the Alliance among their peers.
In February 2020, BEAYC and ACB launched a second edition of the Youth Ambassadors project. The 2020 program will start with a nation-wide open competition in a couple of rounds. At the end of the selection process, 15 young leaders will be selected to be the next NATO Youth Ambassadors. The Youth Ambassadors will then organize 8 local meetings with young people, in a team of two, initiating interactive discussions on the importance of Bulgaria’s membership in NATO and NATO’s mission and role. In May 2020, the two organizations will organize a visit of the Youth Ambassadors to NATO HQ in Brussels, in order to enhance the young leaders’ knowledge and impressions of the organization.
70 Years #WeAreNATO
70 Years Peace in Europe