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.

2 EVS Placements in Belgium

Primary school De Appeltuin

(1-st Project)

Native City: Leuven

 

Activities and mission of the organization:

De Appeltuin is one of the 40 Freinet Schools in Flanders. The Freinet Pedagogical concept is part of the larger pedagogical project of Community Education in Flanders. Its aim is the total development of a person, with attention for the optimal development for each child personally. De Appeltuin is a kindergarten and primary school.

The aims of the school are:

  • to have a constant attention for natural learning, based on the experiences and world of interest of the child, keeping in mind the established development goals and school
  • to work together, based on cooperative and democratic consultation instead of one sided Children are one of the three stakeholder groups in our school. This way, we want to stimulate independency in children.
  • to experiment and learn-by-doing instead of applying rules and regulations, because the learning effect is much larger when a child can convert self-discovered material into new
  • to work usefully and Working useless in a school leads to following without thinking and a lack of satisfaction.

The groups of children are structured in a way that there are always 2 age groups together. This stimulates that older children learn from the younger ones and the other way around.

There is a lot a thematic approach – so called projects – especially in the kindergarten. Their kids can explore together different themes that are of interest in their world. In primary school, these projects are larger and more elaborated in time and space. The learning area of ‘world orientation’ is treated in these projects.

 

Sector of the organization: children – non-formal education

 

Location of the project: The school is located in the center of Leuven, at 20 min. walk from the train station. Leuven is one of the most popular cities in Flanders for students. It is one of the oldest university cities of Belgium and has a wide range of cultural and social activities. Students from all over Belgium and Europe live here during the academic year. Leuven has a very rich history, which can be seen in the many historical buildings and sites. Leuven has a small center but counts several parts, which are nearby and are more quiet and green.

Office environment:

De Appeltuin has a staff team of 23 people, which includes kindergarten teachers, primary school teachers, pedagogical support team, after care, administrative staff, coordinator,…

Another important factor in this school is the involvement of parents and thematic working groups within school the education of the children. This can be in the classroom (projects, practical work,..), class responsible, working groups in the school (reading support, logistics, music, communication,..).

 

Benefit from the volunteer:

The school sees project education as the important working method. Having an international volunteer could in this context be a perfect challenge for everyone involved to apply this form of non-formal education. The presence and cooperation of a foreign volunteer can mean a serious extra value in our school. One of our goals is to form our children to be active citizens with respect for every other human being, for nature and for other cultures.

 

Tasks of the volunteer:

The tasks of the volunteer will evolve from practical help in the classroom to the setting up of a specific project. The velocity of this evolution will depend on the growing language and practical skills of the volunteer. The volunteer will be assisting in classes of toddlers or primary school children, depending on the level of Dutch.

 

The volunteer will:

  • Assist in mainly one classroom (depending on the language level). This can be individual guidance of children who can’t follow the lessons as good as the It can also be to assist when the teacher is using a method where they need assistance, for example when they want to do an educational game to teach them something; then the volunteer can help in preparing this and guide it. It can also be to help with the classes when they are drawing, making something creative, or doing work-shops, such as drama and theatre or teaching them new songs.
  • Take part in out-door activities with the children: go swimming with them, excursions, thematical workshops,… For example, going to the forest in autumn to learn about this season, going to a museum and they have interactive workshops, going to a theatre or a movie and later in class having a de-briefing about it, going to the seaside and learn about the typical vegetation there, going for a week somewhere together…
  • Next to that, the volunteer will organize own activities and workshops, depending on the interests of the For example, to set up a project about her home country, to teach the children about the differences and similarities between cultures. A lot of time of the volunteer’s work will go to this aspect.

 

Working hours during a normal day:

The volunteer will do voluntarily work for 5 days a week from 9AM until 4PM (Wednesday only in the morning). School holidays are free.

 

Specific skills volunteer should have:

For De Appeltuin motivation and interest in the themes the project is working with, namely education and children, is the biggest criteria. The learning possibilities of the volunteer are also important. Since it is needed in the work with children, the volunteer needs to like to work with children and should have interest in pedagogical methods. We strongly advise volunteers to read about the Freinet-philosophy and educational methods before arrival.

 

Level of language skills: intermediate English and very motivated to learn Dutch

 

 Volunteer’s benefit:

The volunteer will be as an extra in the team of the teachers of the school. She/he will get the opportunity to assist in different classrooms (mainly one, but some others) and to get a close look on the educational tools and methods of a ‘Freinetschool’. The principles of the Freinet-philosophy are related to ‘non-formal education’ and ‘experimental learning’. This means that the children have to work on a variety of projects with different themes.

 

Steinerschool De Sterrendaalders

(2-nd Project)

Native City: Lier

 

Activities and mission of the organization:

Education for children between 2,5 and 6 years old (kindergarden) and children between 6-12 years old (primary school) based on the Steiner pedagogy. The Steiner pedagogy is focused on the personal and social development of children in a well-balanced and free environment. We provide education for children, irrespective of race, descent or philosophical convictions.

 

Sector of the organization:

Non-formal education – children

 

Location of the project:

The project is located in Lier at the border of the city center. The school is located next to a residential area.

 

Office environment: approx. 18 teachers

 

Tasks of the volunteer:

We are looking for a volunteer to be part of our staff in the kindergarten (21/2-6 years) and more specifically in the first class of kindergarten (21/2-3 years old). The volunteer will be actively involved during her/his whole stay. The tasks will all be related to the follow-up and supervision of the children during their school day. The following tasks will certainly have to be performed:

 

  • taking care of the preschoolers getting (un)dressed for the outdoor activities (we do a lot of outdoor activities even under bad weather conditions – in order to be able to do so, we’ve rain&mud equipement that our smallest children gradually need to learn to put on themselves, this is one of the skills they learn in the first class)

 

  • Recess duty: We have moments of free playing and directed playing, during both moments not only supervision but also observation of the development of the children is an important task of our staff. If interested it could be a possibility for the volunteer to prepare some directed play moments (with coaching of the class teacher)
  • Helping to prepare the fruit and soup meals: Healthy food is part of our education, Therefore our day starts with a fruit plate where the fruit is brought by the children and then peeled and shared between the pupils. 3 times a week we also prepare soup with fresh organic vegetables in our kindergarten classes together with the children.
  • Preparing and supervising the after lunch nap: We’re enthousiastic about the positive impact of a resting/sleeping moment for our kindergartners. Therefore until 6 years old they all have a moment of rest on their mattresses after lunch.

 

The volunteer could start a personal project under coaching of the class teacher. Eg of a possible project: Prepare and supervise a directed play moment where his/her culture is integrated in order to be able to share and transmit some of this to the pupils. This could be on a regular base (e.g. weekly), in order to create interaction and interest with the children towards this specific intercultural playmoment.

 

Working hours during a normal day:

 

The volunteer will work 5 days a week from 8.15 till 15.30. Monday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon is free. School-holidays are free.

 

Specific skills volunteer should have:

 

  • open minded
  • patient with children
  • motivation and determination to learn more
  • communicative and sociable
  • interest in Steiner philosophy: we advise volunteers to read more about the Steiner education method before arrival

 

Level of language skills: intermediate English and strong motivation to learn Dutch

Volunteer’s benefit:

You’ll get to know a vivid community of teachers, parents and children that will give you the space to experience our culture. With the contacts you make at our project, you’ll deepen your knowledge about our culture and our country also outside the workplace.

“Technology for Creative Thinking” in Malta

The training ” Technology for creative thinking” was organized by CROSS CULTURE INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION CCIF with the support of Malta National Agency (NA) between 18-27 October 2017. The training was designed as a process of informal learning and peer education using participants who work with young people, have experience in the fields of youth work, youth arts and international cooperation. Participants from Malta, Russian Federation, Moldova (Republic of), Estonia, Armenia, Ukraine, Italy and Germany had an active input in sharing knowledge and experience, and learned new skills in and surrounding the dramatic arts and inter-cultural youth work, from the trainers and each other. This active participation encouraged ownership of the learning, motivation and commitment to working together, building effective international working relationships, making the training an exercise in best practice.

The organizers were focused on the individual creative development of each participant and sharing such inter-cultural competences as appreciative inquiry, open minded personality, respect and trust, mutual understanding and team work. Through cultural relationships they generated opportunities for individuals to fulfill their potential and foster the co-operation that contributes to a stable world.

Using theatrical arts within the Erasmus+ Program, was a  very valuable tool for developing inter-cultural learning, cooperation, and quality projects in the youth field among all the regions concerned. After the project, we created inter-cultural youth projects and networks with the various participant organizations within Europe, Eastern Europe and Caucasus.

We also included unemployed young people and youth from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

Youth get to know further the awareness and the knowledge of topics concerning theatrical art, improve competencies, acquaintanceships and abilities, which are necessary to work on long-term projects.

With open space, technology participants shared knowledge and experience, and learned new skills in and surrounding the dramatic arts and inter-cultural youth work.
This active participation encouraged ownership of the learning, motivation and commitment to working together, building effective international working relationships, making the training an exercise in best practice. Participants that participated in our training course ” Technology for creative thinking” from Russia, Moldova and Estonia organized national events with youth on the topic of the training course. They reached different target groups, especially young people with fewer opportunities as well minorities, the ones who are not the most active and to whom it’s hard to reach (as there are so many active young people). Participants also used the techniques required at our training course ” Technology for creative thinking” at other international training activities from different European corners – they exchanged experiences between them (for example how to reach young people with less opportunities, how to involve everyone etc).

Partnership Building Activity – Need Education to Work “NetWORK” in Armenia

7 days and 7 objectives to reach – these were the main tasks of the international group of 30 participants, youth workers, representing 14 countries, have a topic of common concern which  is youth unemployment.

Need education to work or Network was a Partnership building activity, that launched in Yerevan, Armenia on October 2, 2016. The main aim of the activity was to empower youth workers overcoming youth unemployment issues in their own countries. The idea to implement the project was developed by the applicant and host organizations – APY and MOJU.

Joao Dias, president of MOJU

The project is focused on supporting, inspiring and engaging young people from Europe in developing their social leadership skills, take up a civic responsibility and act as a change-maker in their own communities. During the project participants share the best practices and success stories on combating youth unemployment in their own countries and communities as well as research and discover job opportunities accessible for all participant countries, receive the respective input from trainers and experts, make field visits and group discussions. The Portuguese

National Agency and Erasmus+ Programme made the project possible in Armenia. Erik Ghazaryan is one of the trainers of the Partnership building activity. He is sure that the PBA will contribute to creating more international projects.

Erik Ghazaryan -The PBA trainer
To reach the objectives, the trainers used non-formal education and informal learning methods; including t

eam-building activities, group discussions, team presentations, exchange of best practices, role plays, input from trainers, field visits, world cafe, reflection groups, informal activities and other methods. All the participants will use the gained skills to overcome the youth unemployment issues in their countries

Joakim -Participant
Among the participating countries are Portugal, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, Italy, Moldova, Spain , the Netherlands, Turkey, and Ukraine. It is our belief that youth workers from different EU and neighboring partner countries can change the situation locally and internationally. Thanks to mobility projects, youngsters can meet, discuss the problems of the youth unemployment, sha

re the best practices, raise the issues of unemployment, create

networks and implement projects tackling the issue in their local communities and at the international level.

 

“Learn, Do, Stay Inspired” – Armenian Young People go to Sweden

On November 5-12 three Armenians, representing APY, joined “Learn, Do, Stay Inspired” program in Gothenburg, Sweden.

One of the participants of the training course from APY is the winner of our video contest in frames of Europe Day in Armenia, Europe 4 Youth Arpine Kirakosyan who was awarded an educational trip and participation in one of the countries of the European Union. Thus, the selection fell on Sweden.

You may check her video here.

But, let’s get back to where we started.

32 participants from 10 countries discussed volunteering, social change and human rights topics revealing new perspectives on the subject and learning new tools to motivate people contribute to their communities through volunteering. Our participants shared their experience in this + project:

Aripine Kirakosyan

” I especially loved our discussions on Human rights which was presented us through interactive ways such as a still image method, where we should change the situation which is presented us in a scene where the actors remain still in the same position. During the project we shared our experience, learned about others, and learned techniques to motivate and inspire others to do volunteering work to benefit their communities. Our trainers and all the participants were the definition of cool. My first Erasmus + project was a success because of the people involved in and the knowledge I gained from them during the program. To this awesomeness add hot chocolate, cinnamon bun, Swedish delicious cuisine and the unforgettable experience is ready.”

Aghavni Yesayan

“This training for me was the 2nd Erasmus+ program. It was full of emotions and inspiring moments, different kinds of people, a little bit crazy but positive and ready to help and support in difficult situations. It was good chance to enjoy the beauty of Gothenburg and what is the most important to understand that good team can listen, understand and respect each other, share the knowledge, experience. This TC gave me a chance to challenge myself, learn more about group dynamics .We spent wonderful time, reflections, happy moments, great people and cold Sweden weather! For me “Learn , do ,stay inspired “project was a place for meeting new people, making friends, inspiring , challenging and revealing myself. This was the project I really liked and enjoyed.”

 

Karen Kaplakchyan

“My first experience of such international projects was really a great one and left me very inspired. #Learn – a lot of good materials about non formal education, energizers, project management etc. #Do – mission impossible and open space projects came to be a great tool to express yourself, work in a team and to do what you have known or just learnt. #Inspired – Every time is a right time and every person is a right person who is ready to join the team and has his input. This project left me very inspired and gave me a great dose of motivation to go on with this kind of international projects, to join more local projects and share what I got in Sweden, as Sharing is Caring.”

Urgent Call for an Armenian Volunteer for an EVS Project in Poland

If you live in Armenia and would like to become a European Service volunteer at the Cultural Association “Postcard” in Poland, then this open call is for YOU!

(Please, read all the details before you apply)

When?! – The end of January 2017 until the end of September 2017.
Where?! – In Poland, in a small town called Hajnówka, in the region of Bialowieza National Forest.

Association’s activities are carried out by a group of independent artists associated mainly with the theater but also with photography, music, dance. Main activity of our association is organization of WERTEP International Theatre Festival.
accommodation, food and transport arrangements

We guarantee:
– financially: we reimburse the costs of visa, transportation to Poland and local transport
– logistically: accommodation, food and pocket money (85 euro per month)
– artistically: participation in small and large projects implemented by the Association and A3Theatre

 

Training during the project

The volunteer will participate in mid-term training in Toruń.
Also volunteer will learn Polish language and improve their English.
Volunteer profile

We are looking for
– A girl or boy
– between 20-29 years old
– who is curious of everything – new experiences, e.g. organizing theatrical festival, creating theatrical show and scenography, and at the same time – living in a small town, getting to know with local communities and local traditions
– who is eager for cooperation and working in a group
– who is interested in theatre, scenography, design, photography, design of advertising materials
BUT if you have any other interests, tell us about them, maybe we will find something in common.

For us it is important:
– willingness of being in a group with other volunteers
– openness to new challenges
– willingness of learning new things
– willingness of sharing your experience
How to apply

Please send us an email titled “Urgent call for EVS” with your CV (in English) with photo and covering letter. Please explain why do you want to participate in this project and mention Armenian Progressive Youth NGO as your sending organisation from Armenia.
All documents send to: [email protected]

Deadline: 15.01.2017.

After being positively considered in first step of recruitment process we are going to carry out a Skype interview.
We will let you know by e-mail about the results.

Once you are selected, Armenian Progressive Youth NGO will support you with pre-training before your voluntary service and visa procedure.

My way of meeting Will Smith and becoming a trainer. 

London…
The city that everyone wants to be at once, the city where you can meet Hollywood’s best stars such as Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie and the city where you can finally see the “Small” Ben (I know everyone makes that joke, but I couldn’t resist either). The city you can reach by having your passport and UK visa checked hundred times, the city we were getting to almost for 48 hours and the city you can finally hear that incomprehensible weird British accent and pretend like you understand what they say.

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My name is Vahe Tumanyan and alongside with my dearest friend and “boss” Nelly Paytyan, we were lucky enough to participate in the International Training Course “ToT-Developing entrepreneurial skills at young people and organizations”, taking place the first stage in London from July 31st to August 07th and the second stage in Brighton from October 29th to November 5th.

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In the scope of the training course we met diverse and interesting people, got acquainted with their cultures and exchanged our knowledge and skills. It was a great opportunity for all of us to learn something new, to accept challenges and to have fun with youngsters from different European countries: from a Hungarian psychologist, Italian girl who always got lost to a Turkish guy whose dream was to build a new village for young people who will come, stay there, help to build it and return in the future.

15368924_1325695500827185_1748391389_o We were surprised to meet a Hungarian guy named Patrick who had Armenian roots and Armenian name Suren as his second. It was such an emotional moment for both of us and we felt Armenian spirit even in London. Along with all these amazing people we got introduced to a new developing phenomenon such as social entrepreneurship, about which some of us hadn’t heard before the training, including me. Following the funny and creative “Marshmallow Challenge” we were also taught about trainer’s key skills and competences, we even organized and implemented sessions ourselves, which gave us invaluable experience for becoming a trainer.

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Along with all these activities, we were also given free  time to celebrate Halloween dressed up as scary characters, explore London and couple of other towns as exploring new places and different cultures is an essential part of non-formal education. Due to this adventure, I was given a chance to realize my most desired dream of my life: to take part in “Suicide Squad” movie Premiere, meet my most beloved Hollywood actors like Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, even Ben Affleck and take a selfie with legendary Will Smith. It was a breath-taking moment of satisfaction and delight.15310982_1325700007493401_1478483326_o-2

I will always be so thankful to my sending NGO – Armenian Progressive Youth and to the organizers of the course who gave me this unbelievable opportunity to gain knowledge and realize my dream. During the following days I also visited the famous Detective Sherlock Holmes’s house at Baker street, tried to enter Madame Tussauds museum (didn’t enter because of the enormous queue out there) and several other places in London.

On the way back to Armenia I thought of my journey, my adventures, and I understood that not only have I overcome all the obstacles in my way, but also I reached the feeling of fulfillment. In the end, no matter what we do, how we do, our final goal for this life is to feel fulfilled and happy even if it’s just for a moment. And I need to say I am one of the few lucky people who felt that way more than just a moment thanks to Erasmus+ and APY.
In conclusion, I wish everyone to keep their dreams warm as long as possible with the hope of realizing them all one beautiful day. And always keep trying…15311437_1325690064161062_1348912702_o

Dave’s EVS Adventures in Malaga

dave

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes, you may just find what you need”, Mick Jagger.

Have you noticed that we always rush not to lose time? Wish to be more was always a desire for “us” which I guess is the main factor that humanity always gets better and developed on any present to compare to any past and for even better future. Maybe that’s why we are called human “race”.

I am a volunteer in Spain from Armenia for one year in a beautiful city called Malaga.
It’s a historical city with a history of 2087 years, yep, almost as much as the capital of Armenia, just a bit younger. To compare to the place from where I come it is more hot so you can probably associate it as “Malaga is the younger hot sister of Yerevan”.

My occupation sounds like “assistant of the president of the NGO” which involves quite diverse responsibilities some of them I never faced in my life before. But no one ever said that life is easy so I am quite getting used to it especially with the desire to learn and experience new skills. Just in this case I don’t have other choices and, to be honest, it makes me more motivated.

It has been already two months that I am experiencing this new chapter of my life and I let me publicly announce about my excitements how interesting it is becoming day by day.

Intercultural experience is always amazing if you are not afraid of changes. 21th century is full of sources to theoretical knowledge about different cultures and mentalities of seven billion people living around us. But looking at a good picture of pie and tasting it by your own are never the same, right?

Practically feeling the various aspects of any culture only shapes vision about the world and Spain is not an exception. Differences are almost everywhere: food, dances, music, hospitality etc.

But I prefer to let you know about my best experience yet: meeting people. They are warm and friendly, communicative and helpful. I am volunteering in the organization called Arrabal-Aid and in that peaceful kingdom (it is really like a big family) I could never imagine that I will have so much kindness and support. As soon as I arrived my mentor Julio, as a professional guitar player sacrificed pretty much of his time to help me with choosing a guitar and we end up with a decision to buy it from Amazon and another amazing college whose name is Ali ordered it for me. Before that I never even new how to hold one so thanks to them I am also developing some extra skills besides my obligations. I already got lucky enough to have a trusty friend who is not from the organization but still is always kind to me with any support or help.

mde

Thanks to Javier I can feel myself as a local inhabitant even if still I don’t have a resident-cart. Punctuality of Spain reminds me my country so I will not talk about experiencing anything new but just will add that it is the reason why me and some of my other new friend from abroad don’t have a resident cart yet or they just got it (There is a hope that at the beginning of this month all of the volunteers will finally have it). Spanish people are very communicative even if they are not shining with English language skills but don’t run with conclusions because I feel my fault here as well as my Spanish language skills are even worse. So yes, I am also trying to improve one more skill which definitely will be beneficial and for me and for people around me. Spanish people have really big patience and Juan from my organization is a great example for that. During first days I bothered him so much about issues which are not anyhow connected with work in Arrabal-Aid and although he is always busy he always helped me as well, I even think sometimes he even regretted for the waste of his time on my concerns but still, he supported for which I can not be not thankful.

Here are around twenty people like me who decided to do EVS in Spain who are from Armenia, Ukraine, Portugal, Hungary, Belgium, Poland, France, Germany etc. Besides the program we have pretty much in common as well: kindness, educated, tolerance, goal oriented skills, motivated about Spanish culture and my favorite one – all of them also understand fluent English. Logically they were the first people with whom I was trying to explore the new city of my life and time made us really good pals and now we are living like a huge family with too many sisters and brother

But in this case some people may wonder “Does it true that you can learn also about other cultures besides Spanish” and I would say “That is definitely more than true” because now we even cook together.


dsc_0363Arrabal-Aid
is the organization which invited me to do my EVS in Malaga. The Organization is bigger than the average imagination about Non Governmental Organization. The main goal of organization Is to help and develop their community with suggesting different possibilities.

With diverse ways they are fighting against discrimination, unemployment, luck of education and/or information etc. Staff members all are unique and experienced in different fields. In our office building Arrabal-Aid invites volunteers to participate in classes of economics, computer science, management, English learning etc. outside of the building they are organizing events, workshops, training-courses, conferences and more just to rise awareness of people who want to know, learn and improve themselves. I am usually trying to think about new projects and events to implement for community and also I am always ready to help them with anything that they may need.

According to working agreement we are supported with several good comforts. We have a good health insurance conditions, nice big flat with everything necessary to live in, organization takes care of covering the main utilities costs, we are provided with free bus-using possibility. The only complain is that why the time is going so fast.

20161016_190935Describing our free time, I will try to be very short. It is usually full of adventures. Visiting nearby cities and beaches, exploring ancient places, museums (on Sunday the entrance is for free), and of course night life is Malaga is worth to try.

To be hones before applying I was full of doubts. Well doubts are always following us when we have luck of information about something.  I created so much expectations before coming, some of them happened to be true, the rest, well, almost true, or nothing like true.  I still have doubts about so much things, even about tomorrow. Will it be like I want or something strangely unexpected will happen (I am also experiencing this, not the worst feeling I might mention, but not the best as well) . Bust still, let’s be positive about upcoming opportunities and run to catch them. Of course we can’t know for sure where exactly we might end up. But maybe it is better than being stuck in one place. And maybe we should try because time is always limited? Maybe that’s why we always run to not lose a time or an opportunity. Maybe that’s why we want so much to experience our dreams, to be more in our present, better than in any past for even better in our future. Maybe that’s why we are called human “race”. Who knows? Maybe Mr. Jagger?
Anyways, let’s keep trying…

 

“A short story about the long and wild trip to the hot, colorful and mysterious Morocco

From July 30 till August 8, “Armenian Progressive Youth” NGO’s five volunteers, including me, have participated in an international youth exchange project in Larache, Morocco. Our long trip to the north of Africa started from the flights, that lasted almost 20 hours, including the transit of 8 hours in Istanbul. After we safely arrived to Casablanca, we took a train to Larache (5 hours).
15233550_953733841423808_767702915_oFinally we were in Larache. It was early in the morning when we arrived, the city was still sleeping and the streets were empty. My first impression is connected with the amazing view of Atlantic we saw, when we were going from the train station to our accommodation by car.After the warm welcome by the organisers and getting to know each other with participants, the project began on the next day.

This project was organized as a part of a bigger project, called “More Mosaic”. The latter includes series of interconnected activities, aimed to create a platform for dialogue among youth with different cultural and religious backgrounds. People, who participate in these activities believe, that the dialogue with mutual understanding and respect only can prevent conflicts and wars, thereafter it is the key to peaceful coexistence.

Except for us (the Armenian participants), there were also young people, coming from Georgia, Ukraine, Morocco and Sweden.All of the participants were smart, experienced, open-minded and enthusiastic. The sessions and even the breaks between them were filled with interesting discussions. It is important to mention about the openness of participants and their enterprising spirit.The topics of discussions were varying from the role of non-formal education to civil activism, from LGBT rights to interreligious problems, and all of them were always initiated by the participants themselves. It was a great pleasure to discuss about everything with these people, considering all aspects of the problems and trying to find solutions to them. During the sessions we have been taught about different tools and methods of conflict-resolution, promotion of European citizenship values, tolerance, multiculturalism, diversity, etc…This project can be considered as a contact making project as well. Most participants represented different NGOs. Some of us decided to cooperate and organize other events in future.

But besides the main project, we had the free time to enjoy the hot, colorful and mysterious Morocco, as well. After the sessions, in the evenings, we were allowed to walk in the beautiful city of Larache, which is an atlantic port city and, by the way, the local life is most active in the late evenings here. However, it is not all. The project schedule had 2 days for tours. The first one, was a tour to the beach, where we swimmed and surfed in the Atlantic ocean.  And the second, tour to the beautiful city Asillah, which charmed us with its amazing architecture. The Moroccan culture, customs and traditions are so different from ours and so interesting. Everyday you feel like you wake up in a totally different world, or in a TV-show. People are very positive and friendly, always willing to help. I can not forget about the great Moroccan cuisine. I just loved tajine, couscous, harira, the moroccan flatbread, and some sweets as baklava and pastilla.

But as every fairy tale has its happy ending, our project had its own, too. As the project ended, we had to say goodbye. Every and each day of our trip to Morocco was a holiday and joy for us, filled with many great emotions. It was an unforgettable life experience, which taught us a lot. We thank all the organisers for giving us this opportunity and hope to meet everyone very soon again.




Participants  :  Marine Harutyunyan, Minas Minasyan, Mushegh Galstyan, Samvel Gharibyan, Varsik Nikoyan.
Organisers    :  “Framtidståget”, “Active Ukrainians in Europe”, “Train of Future”.

Minas Minasyan

Our journey to piece building and piece keeping on the Black sea in Kobuleti, Georgia

The project for us, three Armenian beauties, started with a ten hour minibus ride from Erevan to Kobuleti and my suitcase flying out of the bus in the middle of the road. Luckily, nothing happened to my things while I suffered a mini heart attack entertaining the driver and my fellow passengers. Quite an ice breaker I should say. Our ride consisted of kilometers of exceptionally bad roads, constant temperature changes, interesting conversations, driver’s philosophical monologues, Mariam and Ksenia’s loud laughing sessions (seriously guys, the way they laugh can bring a dead person to life and fill you with a positive mood for years to come) and absolutely GORGEOUS Caucasian scenery! Only from this ride I have enough #tbt pictures for many decades.

We were one of the first participants to arrive at the location of the training course, so after checking into our room and getting to know the organizers we obviously ran to the sea which, very conveniently, was of 3 minute walking distance from our staying place. During the dinner we met other participants and instantly bonded with everyone (a very good ice breaker was the fact that everyone was melting under the hot Georgia sun). They were an open minded, outgoing, spontaneous, smart and active bunch of awesome people from 8 different countries (Estonia, Italy, Ukraine, Armenia, Hungary, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Germany) who made our project days full of cheerful and bright atmosphere. Just to give you an example, in the middle of the night Dato and Nuka, our new Georgian friends who we just met 5 minutes ago, startled us with an invitation to swim in the ocean at night which we of course accepted (I promise, it was safe, we took a flashlight with us).13501928_10157152227040253_446398430498313445_n

We had absolutely great guitar evenings at the beach, local market exploration and bargaining and long interesting conversations. Moreover, Ksenia, Mariam and me had a chance to experience local Georgian hospitality, we got offered fine Georgian vine as a compliment from a café owner (who couldn’t resist Ksenia’s bright smile and sparkly eyes), flattered with constant compliments from the hotel staff and just in general were surrounded with a very cozy atmosphere that made us feel welcomed in Kobuleti.In the framework of the project we had one day excursion to Batumi. Shortly after our arrival to the city we got under the heavy rain and hid from it in front of the strip club which we became aware of after seeing a great display of golden women’s private parts on the walls and confused look on the face of the concierge when we ran towards the building.  But besides that in Batumi we enjoyed authentic Georgian cuisine after which it was hard to breath, let alone run from rain, and managed to walk and explore the city center.One of the most rewarding parts of the project for me was bonding with the participants, not only international but also with my teammates Mariam and Ksenia.  We shared so many great experiences together that made us so much closer. These ranged from searching for a place to eat to helping Ksenia get through chickenpox that she suddenly got in the middle of the project.

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This training course surprised us with the level of intensity and quality of the information we were receiving during each session.  There wasn’t a day when we didn’t learn something that made us have even more questions. The trainers were extremely professional and helpful. Even though, during the training we received a lot of new complex information it didn’t feel heavy on our heads since the delivery was very entertaining. The piece building and piece keeping themes were extremely relevant given the current situation in the world which made the project even more effective. It was very interesting to do the activities with the participants from Azerbajian and despite the language and culture barriers alongside with tense political situation, to see how our perceptions of each other change.

This project made us further realize the importance of honest and comprehensive dialogue as one of the most powerful tools for piece building, conflict resolution and peacekeeping. We learned about different types of participation and the importance of active participation in the local communities. Also, we had a chance to take the role of trainers and conduct a whole training session with activities, reflection and presentation of new information, ourselves.

13592255_1097694346961355_5672622260252914937_nThrough this activity we grew so much and really fixated what we learned throughout the project, overcame the fear of public performance and gained valuable experience in preparing and conducting a training session. It also made us realize how hard of a job is to train youth from different countries and also the value and efficiency of nontraditional education. The multicultural environment of the participants, the newness of the activities and academic competence of the trainers made a perfect combination that resulted in a very productive training session with lots of challenges, gained experiences, realizations every participant made for themselves and the establishment of new bonds and friendships. At the completion of the program we all agreed that this was one of the most rewarding experiences in our lives, as in just one week we became more aware of other cultures and traditions, their foods and customs, learned a lot about ourselves and the world. Also, we further discovered our strength and weaknesses, started questioning many things that prior to this experience we just choose to accept as well as became more inspired to make changes in our local communities and promote the ideas discussed during the training course.

 

 Tamara Bezljudova