Thinking about a short description for my previous year in Germany, looking back at my journey that started due to APY and continued in LandKunstLeben e.V., I often come to this title – EVS ruined my life. Most of the time, people get confused, was it that bad? The answer is in my short story.
My story is not about crazy travelling through Europe (visiting more than 15 cities, 6 countries), making amazing, lifelong friends, nor it is about foreign languages that I learnt from basics or improved or got the interest to start learning nor it is about new cultures, new skills, new experiences that I gained, participating in the coolest workshops, competitions, trainings, getting better in my hobbies ( cooking, baking, SMM and many more). My gratitude to EVS project is not even for the opportunity to experience for the first time in my life things like ecological gardening, planting, working in an office, even biking, eating Bretzel, meeting Finnish people and breaking the stereotype, that they are not funny ( they can really be) and many other things.
My story and my gratitude is not about all this wonderful, life-changing experiences, it is all about getting lost in the stations, breaking my leg ( while learning to bike), facing hardships, it is about destroying ideas and beliefs that I never questioned, destroying dreams that were fake to be brave enough to realize the real ones, my gratitude is about finding myself, learning to learn, it is about ruining the life that once was full of fears, stereotypes, complexes to fill it with self-understanding, love, respect, friendship, honesty, strength, ability to fail, empathy, support, solidarity and happiness…
Was it that good, you might ask…
No, of course not. ( Because of constant happiness and delicious food, there is a high possibility of gaining weight).
I am Ani from Yerevan, Armenia and I did EVS/ESC in the heart of Vienna, Austria. Yes, I was a lucky person.
I applied for the EVS because I wanted to change my life for better, making it more interesting and diverse, to become more independent, do career and make new friends from all over the world. Now, when my ten months of EVS are over, I can say that I have accomplished that mission.
It has only been ten months but I learned and accomplished a lot of things during that period: I learned a totally new language from basics, German, I met new awesome people from different countries and with different background and became good friends with them, I was exposed to the culture of the country that hosted me, and the more I learned about that country and its people, the more I loved them. I miss Austria sometimes, as it became my second homeland or a country that I am quite familiar with and if being dropped there one day again I will not be lost there, for sure.I worked on my language skills, developed my social skills and career. And I definitely became more independent. I was a volunteer at Kindergruppe Butterbrot. I was working with 2-6 years old kids. My work at the kindergruppe was very beneficial for me as it gave me an opportunity to grow, I gave as much as I could and I learned new methods of working with kids from my co-workers and I hope I can apply that knowledge one day here, in my country. And what is most important- I once again realized that I love kids and will be working with them in the future. And I really miss my kids there.
I had to work there for five days per week, for six hours a day. My tasks would include taking care of kids, reading books to them, playing different games with them, preparing food, putting the plates in the dishwashing machine, sometimes telling kids interesting things, doing crafts with them. My kindergruppe would also organize some excursions to museums, theaters, celebrations of some kind of festivals together so I would join the kids during the excursions as well and enjoy the theatre performances with them.
While being abroad, traveling becomes easier and one of my tips for the next volunteers is to travel as much as possible. I managed to visit two new countries while volunteering, but I know that I could allocate more time for traveling. It broadens one’s mind, and I had a feeling that I was a small piece of a whole; it gave me a feeling of integrity.
Volunteering is a responsibility, but at the same time it is fun. Now, already back to my country, I feel that I have left a piece from my heart in Austria which was just another European country for me before I did my EVS there. I wish it was possible to do another EVS/ESC again:) Of course, I don’t want to say that everything was smooth, without any problems. I have encountered some challenges but I was able to overcome them because I never felt lonely there, I was always surrounded with kind people, people from my hosting, receiving, sending organizations and NA, who were always next to me, ready to support. I would like to express my special gratitude to all these organizations and people involved in them who made my life so beautiful during these ten long months.
Although being in a pre-designed project which is supposed to go smoothly, it is a part of real life, where you have certain roles and you have to make decisions for yourself, perhaps for the first time in your life. And that is challenging and at the same time so wonderful.
I want other volunteers to put their doubts aside and apply for EVS without fears, being open to changes. You can do that! Don’t be afraid to do EVS, EVS is for everybody, EVS is for you!
Armenian Progressive Youth NGO suggests various opportunities for youngters, youth workers and trainers both in Armenia and beyond. All the projects are aiming at developing the skills of the beneficiaries and broadening their professional capacities. Here we offer another opportunity for youth workers, educators and trainers.
This time Armenian Progressive Youth NGO is organizing a training course called “Everyone Matters! Development of Inclusive and Participatory Youth Work Practices in Eastern Partnership countries” that will take place in Yerevan, Armenia, from 07 to 15 of April, 2018. Currently we are looking for participants for the training course.
The training course will support 35 youth workers, educators and youth trainers who work or are affiliated with the member organizations of the consortium in incorporating inclusion and diversity-awareness in their work, making sure it exists both in the trainings, projects and initiatives of partner organizations. The project aims to empower youth organizations, youth workers, trainers and educators to develop inclusion and diversity orientation in their work with rural and unprivileged young people and build their competence in addressing the needs of marginalized youth.
Objectives of the Training
To empower 35 youth workers, trainers and educators to develop diversity orientation in their work with young people and build the their competence in diversity management;
To prepare youth workers to work with marginalized youth in their communities;
To support youth workers in incorporation of diversity into their working environment, thus, making their work more successful and inclusive;
To introduce key theoretical aspects, the glossary as well as the practical tools, methods and instruments to the youth workers who seek to work with marginalized youth in their communities;
To develop training and educational activities and tools on inclusion and diversity trying them out in the group of participants in order to use the tools back home.
Partner Countries: Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Germany, Sweden and Belgium.
WhoCan Apply “EVERYONE MATTERS! Development of Inclusive and Participatory Youth Work Practices in Eastern Partnership countries” training course is for youth workers, youth trainers and educators who live in Armenia and are at least 18 years old.
How to Apply In order to apply, please, fill out the application form by the following link: goo.gl/4bSWxG. The deadline for the applications is February 25.
In case of any questions feel free to contact the Project Manager of Armenian Progressive Youth NGO Mane Papyan by the following email address: [email protected]
2017թ. հոկտեմբերին մասնակիցների մի խումբ հավաքվեց մի դասընթացի համար։
Ծրագիրը նպատակ ուներ զինել երիտասարդներին գենդերային հավասարությունը մեդիայում տարածելու համար անհրաժեշտ հմտություններով։ Դասընթացը տեղի էր ունենում Վիեննայում։ Ավստրիայի մայրաքաղաքը հյուրընկալել էր Հայաստանից, Ավստրիայից, Վրաստանից, Ուկրաինայից, Լեհաստանից և Նիդեռլանդներից ժամանած երիտասարդության ոլորտի ակտիվիստներին։
Օրակարգով նախատեսվում էին տարբեր գործողություններ. սիմուլյացիոն խաղեր, դերախաղեր, խմբային աշխատանքներ, քննարկումներ, ներկայացումներ… Այս ամենը 6 երկրից ժամանած 24 մասնակիցներին հնարավորություն տվեց վերաբացահայտել գենդերի և սեռի հայեցակարգերը, ԵՄ և հարևան համագործակցող երկրների մեդիայում գենդերային կարծրատիպերը…
Խումբը հեռահար կապի միջոցով հանդիպում ունեցավ նաև Հայաստանից գենդերային հետազոտությունների ոլորտի մասնագետի հետ։
Ընդգծվեց մեդիայում գենդերային հավասարության կարևորությունը։ Դասընթացի ժամանակ հնարավորություններ էին ստեղծվել համագործացկության հաստատման համար։ Որպես արդյունք, մասնակիցները նախագծեցին մի քանի ծրագրեր՝ ուղղված գենդերային հավասարության զարգացմանը։
Մասնակիցներն իրենց ներդրումն ունեցան նախագծում՝ մեդիայի տարբեր տեսակների օգտագործման վերաբերյալ իրենց խորհուրդներով։ Միջմշակութային երեկոյի ընթացքում մասնակիցները կիսվեցին իրենց ազգային ավանդույթներով, խոհանոցով և երգուպարով։
Օրակարգով նախատեսվում էր նաև միջազգային ծրագրի նախագծում… Մասնակցիները միասին զարգացրին մի քանի նախագծային առաջարկներ։ Դրանք ներկայացվելու են Erasmus+ ծրագրի օգնությամբ։
Ծրագրի մասին ավելին իմանալու համար կարող եք դիտել հետևյալ տեսահոլովակը՝
— Դասընթացը ֆինանսավորվել էր Erasmus + ծրագրի և Ավստրիական Ազգային գործակալության կողմից (Jugend in Aktion 2014-2020)։
In October 2017, a group of participants met for a training course…
The project aimed to enable youth workers to promote gender equality in media. The TC was held in Vienna. The Austrian capital hosted youth workers from Armenia, Austria, Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, and the Netherlands.
Different activities such as simulations, role-plays, group activities, discussions, presentations were on the agenda… These activities gave 24 participants from 6 countries the opportunity to re-explore the concepts of gender and sex, gender stereotypes in the media of EU and neighboring partner countries.
The group also connected with an expert in Gender Studies from Armenia.
The importance of gender equality in the media was emphasized. A space for networking was provided. The network members also developed projects promoting gender equality.
The participants contributed to the project with recommendations for different sources of media. Participants shared their food, traditions and dances in an Intercultural Evening.
International project writing was also on the agenda… The participants cooperated and developed several project proposals. These project proposals will be applied in the frames of Erasmus+ programme.
If you want to know more about the project you may check the video by the link below:
The training course is financed by Erasmus + Programme and Austrian National Agency (Jugend in Aktion 2014-2020).
Have you ever had that feeling when you are in a crowd of like-mined people who have similar lifestyle and background? It‘s cool to be understood from half a word and easily fit in, isn‘t it? Many of young people have never felt that way.
Our education system, our family, the media and politics have developed certain patterns of our behaviour: fear of uncertainty, being judgemental, rejecting unknown and excluding differences. These are patterns that are often strongly connected to our societal habits and, therefore, can be changed. That‘s why the project “Managing Diversity” was born. “Managing Diversity” project was born out of a concern that many young people in Europe have lack of opportunities and spaces to get involved and to express themselves. Being different from mainstream societies, many are being excluded and marginalized.
This is why 13 non-profit organizations have developed “Managing Diversity” – a long term project working with youth workers, youth trainers and educators, trying to develop their diversity management skills and support them in learning how to implement a culture of diversity in their working environments.
The project targeted specifically those youth workers and educators who are eager to professionally work against structural discrimination and under-representation of marginalized groups. 26 youth workers from 13 countries joined this multi-layer project in August 2017. The group has undergone a series of trainings and capacity building workshops in the Netherlands which were followed by implementation of small local projects back in home countries of the participants.
For about 2 month between August and October, participants have developed and executed 19 local projects reaching about 500 young people in 13 countries ranging from East to West of Europe. The local projects have worked and empowered young refugees, LGBTQI people, Roma youth, youth with disabilities and many other vulnerable and marginalized youth.
Through different types of projects our participants have worked on very sensitive topics. The activities ranged from an improvisational theatre involving Roma youth in Romania and Human Library in Macedonia to career orientation courses for youth with disabilities in Armenia; from a surfing workshop for people with disabilities and a multicultural football tournament in Portugal to a Forum Theatre with refugees in Germany. Many of the projects have targeted the most vulnerable youth, such as a movie projects promoting LGBTQI rights in Moldova or speaking up about domestic violence against women in Armenia.
All the projects were exceptional having in mind that they were implemented with 0 funding, purely organized through the resources of participants, networks of partner organizations and in kind contribution and support provided by local stakeholders in each respective country. The projects took place in home countries of the participants: Armenia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Georgia,Germany, Italy, Latvia, Macedonia, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Romania. All the projects were implemented through diversity glasses and tackled issues of minority groups living in participating countries.
Following the successful implementation of small projects, the project results were evaluated and presented to public in Yerevan, Armenia in October, 2017. The public event was attended by young people, representatives of NGO’s and international organizations, media and partners.
According to the Project Coordinator Ms. Nelly Paytyan, “Managing Diversity” was a good tool against widespread stereotypes in our societies. She thinks that “promoting diversity matters and will matter until young people in our societies face discrimination, ignorance and life burdens based on their nationality, ethnic, cultural and religious background, social status, as well as their gender identity and sexual orientation”.
— “Managing Diversity” was organized by Armenian Progressive Youth NGO (Armenia) and Jongeren voor Uitwisseling en Begrip (The Netherlands). The project was granted by the Dutch National Agency under the Erasmus Programme of the European Union.
After several months of hard work, series of trainings and local ground work, we have concluded our “Managing Diversity” project – a long term training course working with youth workers, youth trainers and educators. “Managing Diversity” involved 26 youth workers and educators from 13 different countries to develop their diversity management skills and support in learning how to implement a culture of diversity in their working environments.
Following the Introductory Training in the Netherlands this August, participants have implemented 19 community projects back to their countries during September and, finally, traveled to Armenia in the end of October to present the impact of their projects and their learning achievements.
Following the successful implementation of small projects, the project results were evaluated and presented to public during a Closing Event. The public event was attended by young people, representatives of NGO’s and international organizations, media and partners.
Nelly Paytyan, the Project Coordinator from Armenian Progressive Youth NGO believes that “Managing Diversity” is a good tool to counter widespread stereotypes in our societies: “Promoting diversity matters and will matter until young people in our societies face discrimination, ignorance and life burdens based on their nationality, ethnic, cultural and religious background, social status, as well as their gender identity and sexual orientation. I believe, everyone who joined this project agrees that embracing diversity, inclusiveness, sensitivity, equity and solidarity in our daily lives and work with young people matter nowadays more than ever”.
Karine Grigoryan, a trainee from Armenia, took part in all three activities of the project. Following the training in the Netherlands, she organized professional orientation activity for young people with disabilities. Karine says: “My desire of implementing this activity was based on my belief, that no matter the type of the disability, people can discover the satisfaction that often comes from realizing and using their strongest abilities and skills”.
Through her project Karine targeted young people with physical disabilities and learning difficulties. As she mentions, “the activity helped the participants to understand what kind of personality and qualifications they have, what they are good at, what they enjoy and what are the possible occupations they may have in the future”. Karines project helped the participants to improve their job searching and employability skills. In particular they learned how to write CV, learned about some job searching websites which they can occasionally browse and look for a job that fits their skills and abilities”.
Martijn Bergsma, the Project Coordinator from the Netherlands shared some information about how the partners and participants were chosen: “In the beginning we made an open call looking for partners who would be interested to join this project. After selecting the partners and approval of the project, we have also announced an open call for participants to make sure the project is inclusive and open for everyone involving those people who really need it”.
Fabio Di Benedetto, our participant from Italy have decided to work with young emigrants back to his hometown in Sicily. Fabio organized an Intercultural day that involved 8 local youngsters and 8 unaccompanied foreign minors. There are about 15.000 unaccompanied foreign minors in Italy, one third of them living in Sicily. They come mostly from African countries and due to very weak integration policies of the Italian government, they don’t have interactions with the local youngsters.
Fabio describes his experience with an excitement: “For the first time youngsters had a chance to talk to each other and get to know each other. They had various backgrounds but during the event they have found out that they are not so different”.
Another participant from Romania, Maria Carbunaru implemented an improvisational theatre in Romania involving Roma children. Maria says: “The Theater included Roma kids from poor families and orphanages. They spent a day by doing improvisational theater. In the end of the day they were happy and it made me feel good”.
Neel Klappe, one of the trainers from the Netherlands, thinks that it’s great that the project had concluded in Armenia. “It really makes project more powerful and impactful. I realized how you can do great things when you have a motivation. Through local projects we have realized what we can change and how many people we can reach. This makes me proud”, she says.
Rodrigo from Portugal says that the whole experience gained during the project can simply be put in one word – “memorable”. Rodrigo organized a small surfing event with children with disabilities. Currently, he is trying to design a bigger project. The idea is to have a training course on personal development and social inclusion of children with disabilities.
National minorities were not left out of attention as well. Carlos, from Portugal, has worked with representatives of different nationalities living in Portugal, organizing a joint football tournament. “I think I offer a space for the ethnic minorities to gain confidence and break some communication barriers helping them in their professional lives”, he says.
A journalist from Moldova, Tudor Arnaut joined Valentina Botnaru from Moldova to work on a documentary movie promoting the rights of LGBTQI people. The documentary focused on the lives of LGBTQI people in Moldova and has been screened for the first time during the Closing Event in Armenia.
Tudor says that during the preparation of the movie he got more information about LGBTQI people in Moldova and became more open-minded. “I had good feedback and now we want to continue with my partner, Valentina Botnaru, doing more beautiful documentaries. “Managing Diversity” was an eye-opening experience and now we are more self-confident to move forward with our ideas”, he says.
— “Managing Diversity” was organized by Armenian Progressive Youth NGO (Armenia) and Jongeren voor Uitwisseling en Begrip (The Netherlands). The project was granted by the Dutch National Agency under the Erasmus Programme of the European Union.
From the 19th to 25th June, 2017 the Armenian Progressive Youth (APY) NGO hosted an International Training Course “Youth Workers for More Inclusive Europe” in Yerevan. The project was organized in partnership with Youth Council of Valencia from Spain and supported by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ programme.
The Training Course was designed for youth workers and youth organizations, which are willing to play a greater role in the areas of migration and refugee crisis as well as youth de-radicalization as its main consequence. The project gathered 26 youth workers in Armenia who were coming from Belarus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Georgia, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Ukraine. Through the Training Course our participants learnt about existing practices and examples in the field of migration where NGO’s and active citizens have gone beyond their capacities to fill the gap left by national and regional authorities and to support people arriving to Europe. At the same time, participants also learnt how to be better prepared to contribute to the resolution of the refugee crisis and improve the policies of integration of refugees in European societies.
Many of the participants mentioned that the Training Course helped them to learn more about migration in the EU and non-EU countries and how to tackle hate speech towards refugees and migrants. According to the feedback received, we can conclude that the participants especially liked the meeting with Syrian-Armenian refugees and gained knowledge about the situation of asylum seekers´ and refugees in Armenia.
Gaining local knowledge about Armenia, the hosting country, was an added value to the project. Participants were especially interested to learn about the migration problems linked to the Syrian-Armenian community. They were thankful to be given more information and perspective about this topic thanks to the intervention of volunteers from Armenia who told about their experiences and provided inputs.
The entire Training Course and its activities have contributed to the knowledge of participants who have developed numerous skills, such as critical and creative thinking, analysing ambiguities around the controversial issues and improving problem-solving skills. First and foremost, the participants got in-depth knowledge on the concept of migration, thoroughly examining the main causes of hatred towards refugees and getting to know the current state of affairs in Europe. By using peer to peer learning approach, we have created a safe space for participants to learn a lot from each other.
The academic part of the project put forward crucial topics such as respect to human dignity, freedom, equality, respect for human rights, including the rights of refugees and migrants. Moreover, the acquisition of competences has been guaranteed by means of non-formal educational tools provided by the professional trainers throughout the project. Apart from the educational side, the project was comprised of cultural exchange activities such as the intercultural evening as a space to exchange national cuisine, dances, music and create a real multicultural atmosphere. To recapitulate, owing to the project, our participants have been armed with new skills to become more aware and active towards refugee and migrant integration in their own societies and to be actors of change who foster tolerance, solidarity and open-mindedness.
We really hope that our participants are empowered to be a multiplier of knowledge in their own country of origin and they will do their best to impact their peers either personally or through more structured presentations. Surely, this will motivate other young people to deal with similar experiences, to get to know the European programs, and in particular Erasmus+.
A Quest 4 Equality: Breaking Gender Barriers through Youth Work
Nowadays most countries recognize that equal rights, as a question of human rights, democracy and justice should exist as well as that gender equality represents a part of resolution to the challenges that our society is facing to. Albeit many have elaborated and set in motion regulations intended to fight discrimination and different issues, the gender equality situation both in the EU and the Neighboring countries, especially in Eastern Europe and Caucasus remains unsatisfactory.
Gender equality topic has been always considered to be one of the working dimensions of the Armenian Progressive Youth (APY) NGO, which is constantly expanding its boarders by hosting more and more gender-related international projects in Armenia. The first international training course of this year called “A Quest 4 Equality: Breaking Gender Barriers through Youth Work” was convened from the 3rd to the 11th of June in Yerevan. The 38 youth workers coming from Armenia, United Kingdom, Belarus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Moldova, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Russia and Turkey have been the integral part of a project aiming to develop and improve the participant’s knowledge and understanding on various concepts related to gender issues, analyze traditions, roles and perceptions of gender in different countries and societies.
Through the implementation of the international training course the youth workers and young leaders from diverse backgrounds had an opportunity to feel and reflect about the power of gender and gender roles by having space to discuss, debate and learn more about the topic that often remains undiscussed. Besides tackling the mentioned issues, the training course looked for solutions in our organizations and daily lives. The participation in different scale of activities as discussions, presentations, field visits let the participants exchange their skills and experiences particularly on gender mainstreaming, gender discrimination, gender violence and gender perspectives in different parts of Europe and know more about diverse realities in Eastern Europe and Caucasus region. Furthermore, thanks to the practical side of the training course, the participants focused on non-formal learning activities adressed for concrete target groups (school leaders, youth with disabilities, etc.), which will enable them to implement afterwards real projects on local or European levels.
This international gender-equality-related training course, unique with its vast geographical coverage and the contemporary topic, has been brought about by the conjoint cooperation between the Armenian Progressive Youth NGO and Nikola Arts organization from the United Kingdom, as well as by the funds of the European Union in the frames of Erasmus+ program.
Notwithstanding that the prevailing conservative, discriminating values in our societies are hard to tackle on account of clearly defined roles for men and women, gender stereotypes and issues with the expression of gender identity and sexual orientation, we believe that through non-formal educational activities we can spread awareness and look for solutions to the issues of our daily lives.
WHERE – The project is volunteering in integrated school in the capital of Lithuania – Vilnius.
The school „Versmė“ („stream“ in english) has 544 schoolchildre n from 6 to 18 years of age. It is primary and secondary school and is specified as an integrated school. They welcome children with mental and physical disabilities, as well as emigrants in their school and do a lot for integration in society. It is based on human and christian values. All teachers and administration tries to develop habits of tolerance, respect and solidarity. Non formal education takes place in their village house in country side near Vilnius – camping, day actvities, etc. There are different national and international projects going on at school and local community, so everyone is more or less used to work internationally, to welcome volunteers.
WHAT – the help of volunteers is needed during lessons of foreign language; during art, geograpghy lessons for children with special needs; in organising activities for children during breaks and while waiting for transport to go home; help in value education programm in the village house twice a year – create and organize the camp; and other possible activities such as helping students in Parliament acitivities, prepeare school feasts, developing school‘s website together with students, help prepearing different excursions, trips, activities, rallies, different help for students with disability in crafts, art and other lessons, etc. Maximum 36hours in a week, sometimes during the weekends, but then, having a day off on working day.