Maria Koleva has recently gratuated with a Bachelor's Degree from Université Lumière Lyon 2, Lyon, France. Born in Plovdiv, a graduate of the Humanities' High School in Plovdiv, and driven by her passion for history, religions, societies and different cultures, she was accepted to study Ethnology in Plovdiv University "Paisij Hilendaski''. Influenced by the studies, the high competence of her professors and the excellent platform of the Plovdiv University she decided to apply for a 6 months Erasmus exchange programme in Lyon, France in January, 2016.
Despite all of the stereotypes, barriers and fears, with the help of her curiousity towards the treatment of otherness, she made her best to learn everything possible from the wide multicultural world in France. In particular, her close relations with people from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria, Madagascar, Reunion Island (Africa in general (and not only)), the exchange of information and the cohabitation with those people helped her to expand her own vision of the world and to overcome the problems with the stereotypes, to unlock her empathy and tolerance and to be able to understand and analyse better the problems of otherness. In fact, today she is interested in finding the similarities between different cultures and religions more than the diversities.
The experience in France and the all of the changes in her perceptions have provoked her to participate in this year's Balkan Summer School of Religion and Public Life.