Conflict vs Connection: A Training for Young Peace Builders in Armenia

Armenian Progressive Youth NGO (Armenia) in partnership with TeachSurfing (Germany) hosted 45 youth workers from 12 different countries; Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. The country representatives were hosted in Yerevan from 10th to 17th of April in the frames of the international training course “Conflict vs Connection” funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European Union.

The objective of the training for Young Peace Builders was due to the existing conflicts in the region, which in their turn negatively impact both Armenia’s and the neighbouring countries’ development. The ambition to build peace has been among the political and diplomatic circles of the participating countries. However, many of the conflicts are still unresolved, influencing young people living in those countries. More often, young people are the ones who become victims of violent conflicts and wars.

The course focused mainly on the topics of conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peace building and conflict management, which are very relevant in the participating countries. The training has been conducted by 3 professional trainers by using lots of interactive exercises and non-formal educational activities, identifying the reasons of conflicts, possible solutions and the role that young people can play in conflict resolution processes. Apart from discussing the cross-border and international conflicts, they discussed also interpersonal conflicts and learnt about effective strategies to overcome them.

Except the academic part of the project, the participants had a chance to get acquainted with the Armenian culture and national cuisine during the Intercultural evening, excursion to Garni and Geghard, City Rallies initiatives. Moreover, the participants were able to present their national cuisine and culture as well, by creating a real multicultural atmosphere.

Within the project a public “Human Library”event has been organized, where many local and international participants, including 12 country representatives, had a chance to meet and talk to Muslims, Buddhists, people of different nationalities and groups, ask them about their daily life, ambitions, aspirations and concerns. Human Library worked as an ordinary library: readers came to the library, choose a book and read it. The only difference is that books are humans, and the reading is a real conversation.

The participants were willing to share their impressions and the outcome of the project with the readers below.

Maria Argyride from Cyprus talked about the importance of the project, “Through this training I learned a lot of practices and techniques that I can transfer to other people especially to children because I’m a teacher. I think, that now I understand how conflicts begin and can find the right way to solve it. And I feel so cool with knowledge, good feelings, positive energy thanks to your project.”

Viktor Petrov from Ukraine highlighted “I’m a youth worker and trainer, so this topic and this environment are pretty good for me, for my profession and personal development and also I’d love to contribute to peace-building and this topic is very important for me. The most important thing for me is that we gathered people from 13 countries here, different cultures with the same goal and this is the most important.
In our society there are many conflicts and I truly believe, that if we spread the information as much as possible, we can get closer to peace, so I’d love to continue the trainings and spreading information and knowledge I gained.”

“I learned many things in this project and the most basic one is that there is no such a thing “the big shark eats the small one”, we all can collaborate and become the winner in any kind of subject. Peace is an abstract term, for me at least, and in order to make it more substantial you need to work for it.  I think, if many positive people gather together they can do great, amazing things, but people being apart and fighting against each other is something terrible and we can see the results… because it happens centuries.” mentioned Giorgos Gkaraklidis, a participant from Cyprus.