In collaboration with:
Anna Kiryakova, Petya Minekova, Pavel Tafradjiiski, Bojodar Lambov, Theodor Vasilev, Ronald Jones, Martin Avila, Helena Sundman
National High School of Plastic Arts and Design “Akademie Dechko Uzunov”, Kazanlak
Elementary school Kulata, Kazanlak
Elementary school Anton Strashimirov, Kazanlak
Rotary Club Kazanlak
Experience Design Group, Stockholm
Photography: Ivo Mandov, Muslium Smail Assan and Johannes Tolk
Kazanlak is a city in the center of Bulgaria. Like in most other cities in this country there are many Roma people living here.
About 25 years ago the government decided to build a wall around Carmen, the neighborhood where most Roma people live.
Passing by this wall for many times during our stays in Kazanlak we decided to find a way to change it.
In former times going to the hospital in Bulgaria meant first of all going to one of the small kiosks in front of the hospital to buy pralines in order to get help. The shelves in these small shops are still filled with boxes of pralines reminding one of those times. Having this in mind we invited students from different schools in Kazanlak to find out together with us if we could use this idea of the little gift to ask politicans, business people and the general public to support us in changing the wall.
Together with the chocolatier Pavel Tafradjiiski they searched for the taste of diversity. Based on the basic tastes sweet, sour, bitter, salty and Umami they created five different types of chocolates.
The students organized an exhibition in the city gallery, visited the regional minister for education, the mayor and the Rotary Club.
The chocolates convinced everybody to support their efforts. The mayor and the city architect gave their permission, the Rotary Club payed for the paint and the school in the Roma neighborhood finally decided to allow its students to take part in what was to come.
Than the students took on the next task and tried to find out what diversity might look like. After a lot of thinking they realized that they themselves were the best example of diversity. So they started to draw portraits of each other.
Chocolate in the name of integration
A unique exhibition of hand made chocolates opens today in Kazanlak. The Exhibition is entitled “chocolate formula” and is the work of 15 students from two schools PS “Tower” and the National School of Plastic Arts and Design “Acad. Uzunov” Chocolate formula was launched as a joint project in July this year to bring together young people from Roma and Bulgarian origin of Kazanlak, by creating a situation where they each learn more about their different cultures, to overcome prejudices and start building a new dialogue. The authors of the project – Anna Kiriakova and Johannes Tolk found a unique formula for this: chocolate. The idea is that through its different taste and the creation of common candy project participants become ambassadors of change between Roma and non Roma .