Unity in Diversity? From Challenges to Opportunities

From 30th of March to 7th “Armenian Progressive Youth Progressive Youth” NGO together in partnership with “Active Ukrainians in Europe” NGO launched a multi-layer project entitled as ‘Unity in diversity? From challenges to opportunities’. The project gathered 32 youth workers and youth educators from Armenia, Denmark, Georgia, Italy, Moldova, Poland,Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine  in Yerevan, Armenia to discuss how current military conflicts and migration processes affect young people and analyze the current migration challenges in Europe trying to offer solutions from the perspective of youth work.

12967419_1160384577314220_72783385713376247_oAs a response to the recent refugee crisis Armenian Progressive Youth NGO has also organized a conference on migration and youth. The conference aimed at highlighting the importance of youth workers and young people in the public debate on migration and discussing how youth workers can use the intercultural dialogue tools to combat intolerance towards migrants and refugees. The Conference involved Civil Society Organizations, youth workers, experts, academics, young migrants and refugees from Armenia,Denmark, Georgia, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Sweden,Turkey and Ukraine.

Kateryna Bublyk, a participant from Ukraine, says that the word “unity” in her language means standing close to someone,  supporting each other, feeling safe and friendly. «It is the sense of a fellowship, and it doesn’t matter what nationality, religion, sex or social status the other person obtain», she says.

Maya Zakhova, 31 years old from Denmark, adds that for her these topics are very important because she is herself an immigrant in Denmark. «Copenhagen is very multicultural city and I’m a part of it. For me «unity and diversity» are not just words but daily reality.”

Olga Sevcenco, 26 years old from Moldova, describes that for her the training is about inclusion of immigrants, which is highly relevant at this time. Melanie Celina Jane Marchand, 36 years old from France, concludes that the project was about how to get united even if we are coming from different countries. How to create an awareness of the different problems that migrants can go through and in that way create tools to make them feel 12891097_1156090134410331_508253120229537994_obetter in their welcome countries and give them the opportunity to build their personal and professional live. From the trainings, she continues, I got a more precise idea of that is going on in different countries in Europe and inspirational ideas for new joint projects.
Tatiana Prodan, 27 years old from Moldova, adds , «We must understand that the refugees do not come to out country to harm us, they flee from their countries to find better living conditions. That is why we should not marginalize or exclude them»
. Kateryna Bublyk recognizes the importance of these topics in her home country: “As military actions are hold in my country, a lot of people are forced to leave their houses and move with their families all over Ukraine. Trainings like these help us, the Ukrainian youth workers, to overcome the difficulties in communicating with our own refugees.”

Olga Sevcenco stresses that one of the highlights from the training was the session were they were giving theatrical performance based on given12983991_1163573413662003_8122491659337591728_o

scenarios: ”It was very challenging to put ourselves in the place of an immigrant, to act as them and to receive feedback of others etc. From my point
of view, unity, is a term that can be interpreted differently by everyone but the most important is that it brings us together and remind us to respect each culture, vision and diversity. She adds that: ”also, the project was a great opportunity to learn a about culture and history of wonderful and amazing Armenia. The breath taking view of Ararat and delicious Armenian cuisine is still in my mind and heart.”

”After «Unity in Diversity», Kateryna Bublyk inserts, ”I became more active in social life. Now I try to take part in the majority of projects and activities organised by our local NGO «Centre for European Initiatives». And I like it! I feel like even being just a simple local citizen I still can participate in the city life, do something good and change the world.”12970881_1161312393888105_5060455718478023478_o

«Where Does Hate Come From?» International Training Course in Yerevan

From 15th to 23rd of July Armenian Progressive Youth NGO together in cooperation with Active Ukrainians in Europe from Sweden hosted an international training course on the topic of combating hate speech among young people in Europe.
32 youth workers and youth leaders from 11 different countries such as Sweden, Romania, France, Georgia, Ukraine, Turkey and Armenia gathered in Yerevan to participate in the training and to learn more about Armenia and the reality in it. With the background of migration crisis in Europe and extremism spreading in the world- the objectives of the training were to explore the notion of hate speech and its main roots. Furthermore, it aimed at inspiring youth workers to find innovative solutions to fight hate speech in their societies.

13710570_1224005424285468_8273794439592331678_oSharing the growing sense of concern towards the rise of hate speech in Europe, the two organizations also came up with an initiative of organizing a panel discussion to bring together policy-makers, experts, civil society activists, youth workers and youth leaders from Armenia and Europe to get engaged in interactive dialogue, debate and discuss the possible solutions for tackling hate speech and its repercussions on young people. A Panel Discussion  entitled as Freedom of Speech VS Hate Speech.

In the end of the project participants have also planned and organized a flashmob to reach out to public with a number of different activities they have prepared about raising public awareness on hate speech targeting different vulnerable groups to join the European Action Day for victims of hate crime.

Some of the participants agreed to share with us their personal experiences within the training course and to reflect on the content and learning achievements they have had.
13782065_1228848567134487_8139831020236367909_nOne of the participants, Radu Dalidis, a 23 year-old NGO worker from Denmark, says that the training course has helped him to understand the roots of hate speech and how to tackle it in daily life. Also, he adds, that he now acknowledges how to avoid stereotypes and prejudices when meeting new people and when facing different situations. Radu points out that in Denmark, there is a need of greater tolerance for the Roma people. To conduct education on the hate speech topic to youngsters and youth workers would be preferable, since they are more likely to be receptive. There are various methods to do this, such as social media campaigns, flyers distribution or social events implemented in relevant locations.

 In general, Radu emphasises that he was very satisfied with the overall quality of th13680390_1224007730951904_5069318212312835807_oe training course as well as with the accommodation and food. According to him, the trainers were very professional and did their best to ensure the highest quality of the training course

 Arpen Sargsyan, a 24 year-old youth worker from Sweden, says that for her the training has been about digging deeper into why and when we experience feeling of hate, in order to understand how to prevent it. Radu continued that before the training he was unaware of the consequences of hate speech and how it affects our nowadays society. However, now after the training he feels that he has the knowledge on combating hate speech and dealing with it. “Furthermore, the training course enabled meetings with amazing people from different countries, with different cultural background. This improved my interpersonal skills and expanded my network”, he adds.13730829_1228849113801099_8819751485246743864_o

Arpen recognizes that specifically right now in Sweden there is a need to build a greater tolerance towards refugees. And that tolerance can be build
only with interactions with tolerance. On how to combat these issues she responds ”I think everyone in my society would benefit from this kind of education. Children are certainly a group to address with such an education. They are the future so we do have to think a lot in educating them in order to prevent future hate speech acts. But I do believe that everyone in my society do need to develop a greater understanding.”
Robertas Sunokas, 34 years old from Lithuania, also highlights that it was very interesting to have participants from different countries involved in discussions and sharing their own cultural beliefs.

«Extremism, no thanks!» International Training Course in Yerevan

From 23rd to 30th of August Armenian Progressive Youth NGO together with International Youth to Youth Initiative from Lithuania hosted the international training course «Extremism? No, Thanks!» aimed at looking deeper into the issues of extremism, migration, discrimination, nationalism, intolerance and intercultural misunderstandings. It brought together youth workers and youth activists from Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Georgia, Macedonia Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Russian Federation, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and United Kingdom in Yerevan to discuss and understand the causes of extremism and where they develop. Taking into account the ongoing extremist movements, raising xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe, the gathering of active young people, youth workers and activists is highly important to tackle questions of multicultural society, interreligious and intercultural dialogue as well as to think about some practical tools how to fight discrimination and combat extremism.

14184451_10153683023411400_3608782133671794835_nSaida Ibrahimava, one of the trainers and co-founders of Youth to Youth Initiative, reflects on some of the core parts of the project, «The training course became for me a crucial point where I have finally connected my professional development as a youth worker with academic background focused on youth radicalization and the ways and means of de-radicalization. This course was supposed to inspire youth workers across Europe and neighboring countries to start actions preventing violence and countering extremism, building peace and sustainable dialogue. It was designed to equip one with practical knowledge on how to eradicate radicalism through youth initiatives and the power of narrative. Based on real case studies, simulations and personal experience sharing, we tried to rediscover the topic and learn different practices and methods that could foster change and make a difference in our diverse communities and cosmopolitan world. I sincerely hope we managed to deliver the message and inspire all participants for action.

The training included, among others, a workshop on discrimination and types of oppression, as well as cultural influences from Armenia, such as a excursion to different picturesque places in Armenia. The participants have also had an opportunity of having traditional dinner in an Armenian family and got to try Armenian traditional food.
The participant Ambra Aielli from Italy, shared her impressions of the training course with us telling that she felt that the idea behind the training course was to work with the concept of extremism in a critical way and offer us, as youth workers and human beings, the tools to tackle this issue in our professional and daily life  “I am a teacher, well, I hope that this will become my permanent job, therefore I think it’s essential to be able to promote integration and intercultural dialogue in school. I think education is the best and most effective tool we have to prevent the rise of extremism, and unfortunately I feel that the educational system of my country doesn’t really offer the possibility to work in this way”, she says.14231908_10209067523997017_9147289830416482983_o

Roman Melnyk, 25 years old from Ukraine, has described the project not as a very theoretical training but rather a training of an organic understanding of how social tensions, injustice and other factors create a growing ground for developing extremism. He says, that in his opinion extremism is a monopoly on truth and privileges and at the same time a lack of education.

Another participant, Tania Kebak, 25 years old from Moldova, explains that she has learned that we can not relate all kinds of extremism to Islamic extremist groups, extremism is more than that, we daily experience extremist situations.

14053706_1254211624598181_1855148114584072684_oDuje Jakovcevic, 27 years old from Croatia, adds that for him extremism means a narrow-minded, intolerant and exclusive approach to certain social or political concerns. He also points out that the topic of extremism is very important to him because he lives in a society which is defined by experiences of nationalism, especially since the breakup of Yugoslavia, and recent economic hardships have exacerbated this tension, thus created a potential for radicalization. – ”And that is a problem that he interacts with on a daily basis. Not only in my home country, but all across Europe and the Western world, right-wing extremism is on the rise and it is a phenomena that affects me whether I like or not”, he says.

Anna Razmakhina, our project participant from Belarus, also works as a teacher, and likewise emphasizes the key role of education: “Many young14046163_1255333207819356_2475526833033521692_n
people I work with these days are not used to any sort of critical thinking or forming their own point of view by studying different sources. In my work I try to break through these tendencies. And English classes is actually a great tool. “According to me”, she says, “no other subject allows the teacher to elaborate on topics that would actually not just raise their motivation to learn the academic material, but develop them as humans, broaden their outlook and expose to new experiences, let them meet exciting people. As I see it, the more a person learns about the world, the less stereotypical mind set he/she has, which is a great deal in building a non-violent, tolerant and simply kind society”. Anna Razmakhnina, also points out that the training course brought together over 30 people from all over Europe and the immense diversity of their experiences, opinions, characters and live stories. So it 14138197_1254211314598212_3243678792597668696_owas also about getting to know people who are so different from you.

Overall, meeting people from so many different backgrounds was very useful in order to gain knowledge about different outlooks and perspectives regarding the same problem, Duje Jakovcevic says. Ambra Aielli also mentions that one of the highlights of the training course was the possibility to meet inspiring people who can push her to commit more and accomplish more in social activism.

#VOM — First Volunteer Orientation Meeting of Autumn

On Friday the 16th of September, Armenia Progressive Youth NGO held a Volunteer Orientation Meeting to welcome the volunteers who has been selected for Autumn 2016. The volunteering group is a reflection of what APY strives for in its work, a mix of ages, nationalities, gender and backgrounds. To get to know each other in the group, the event started with a name game and other get to know each other activities on the yard of AEON Café.
After this the APY team was presented. The president Erik Ghazaryan participated on a video link from Brussels to welcome all volunteers to the new APY family.
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Grigor Yeritsyan, the Vice-President of the organization had a welcoming speech greeting all the newcomers and the previous period volunteers who have been re-selected for the new six month period. They will volunteer with APY starting with September of this year and will finish their volunteering next February.

Nelly Paytyan, the Communications Officer of the organization, talked about the history of the establishment of APY, the 7 year route it has leaded through different changes and team extensions, the structure and the system APY has adopted through years and presented main goals and objectives organization aims at, the work it carries out with young people from Armenia and other European countries on local, international and regional levels as well as the non-formal educational opportunities it offers to youth.

The main presentation has been succeeded by working groups’ presentations conducted by APY’s Project Manager Ani Khachatryan and Office Administrator Adrine. They not only presented the existing working groups of the organization, the scope of activities they are focused on but also delivered a mini-training on Erasmus Plus and European Voluntary Service.

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The volunteers are a vital part of the APY organisation since they are a part of the progressive youth in Armenia. Their efforts and ideas bring the organisation forward and inspire more young people to become active citizens. After the presentations the opportunity was given for some small talk while enjoying coffee, tea or wine. I then got the chance to get to know two of the volunteers that have been selected for the autumn!

 

 

 

 

davit Hi David!
Who are you?

To be brief, currently I am a senior student in marketing department, who is always passionate about new challenges, which are promising with new milestones ahead!
Why APY?
APY has always been in my spotlight as the very platform, where I am able to learn and share! Hereby, it is my pleasure and honor to be the part of a big family, who creates dozens of smiles and gives its contribution a social change in Armenia…
What will be your role in the organisation and what are your expectations?

In APY I am enrolled as PR and communication’s group’s member, where I am way avid to work hard on brand-new projects, schematize and control all communication process with my collegues with a view to see the organization’s PR and communications at its best..

Hi Nonna!
Who are you?
  nI have graduated the department of Journalism in Russian-Armenian University in Armenia. Besides that I have many interests, my main passion is music and everything connected with it.
Why APY?
APY is a big family, where you feel at home with warmth in your heart. It gives our youth many opportunities to develop their skills in communication, leadership, responsibility. APY is the place that pushes me to go forward.
What will be your role in the organisation and what are your expectations?
My role in the organization will be to gather and realize the good ideas of other volunteers. My expectations are connected with making from our group a family.

 

 

Volunteer Orientation Meeting

Community organizations often depend on a constant influx of new volunteers to survive and thrive as they try to obtain their goals. To do so, however, it is important that our new volunteers understand that we really are welcoming them with open arms. By skilfully managing orientation programs, we are effectively institutionalizing that welcome and making sure that everyone who wants to help will understand what they are doing and why they do it. We are showing our volunteers how important their help is to the organization. Making sure, they understand their positive and effective impact on the organization is one of the best ways to make sure that the volunteers we orient today remain dedicated in the months and years to come.

For that reason, on September 16 APY (Armenian Progressive Youth) NGO, holding the above-mentioned values, held its first Volunteer Orientation Meeting of Autumn in EON.

During the orientation meeting we covered the following gap of information:

  • We gave a short description of our organization’s programs and it’s relationship in our community and beyond it’s borders.
  • We spoke about our organization’s structure, including an introduction to key staff members and an explanation of their roles.
  • Our newly selected volunteers got informed what is expected of them, including a general overview of the jobs they will be doing.
  • We conveyed brief history of our organization supporting them to understand our organization’s mission, policies and main goals, as well as how the volunteer can contribute. A short description of organization’s rules and procedures were given as well.
  • The volunteers evaluation and performance review system was presented.
  • We represented our volunteers a host of programs including Erasmus+program, European Voluntary Service and others giving a wide range of opportunities to young people.

After the overall presentation the participants had an opportunity to know to each other and had talks over a cup of tea and coffee.

Written by APY volunteer Marianna Amirkhanyan

“CHALLENGE 2 CHANGE: GENDER PERSPECTIVES IN EUROPE” International project launches in Yerevan

June 26, 2016 – Yerevan, Armenia – From 27th of June to 5th of July Armenian Progressive Youth NGO and JUB International from Netherlands will be hosting an international training course in Yerevan bringing together 36 youth workers, youth experts, activists, community leaders, Civil Society Organization and NGO representatives from 14 European countries. During 8 days they will be discussing and tackling the key challenges and perspectives related to gender equality, women’s rights protection and advocacy in the European Union, Eastern Partnership and Caucasus region. The Training Course will unite participants from Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Italy, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Spain, Russian Federation, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Ukraine.

The main aim of the project is to compare the realities related to gender equality and equal participation of women in political, social and economic aspects in the European Union and Eastern Partnership countries, share and exchange the best practices of civil society organizations in the field, promote the importance of gender equality in youth work and develop strategies for women empowerment and promotion of gender equality in Armenia and different European countries. During their stay in Armenia, the participants will exchange their skills and experiences on gender mainstreaming, gender discrimination, gender-based violence and gender-related perspectives in different parts of Europe. The project will be unique platform for sharing practices and exchanging experiences.

On July the 1st an International Conference “Gender Equality in Armenia and Europe: Challenges and Perspectives” will be held in the scope of the project aiming at bringing together NGOs, Civil Society Organizations, activists, community representatives, experts, academics who work for the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Armenia as well as the Eastern Partnership Countries and the European Union.

A keynote opening speech will be delivered by H.E. Mr. Piotr Antoni Świtalski, Ambassador, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Armenia The Keynote speech will be followed by guest-speakers from YSU Center for Gender and Leadership Studies, Women’s Resource Center NGO, OxYGen Foundation, Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO, JUB International NGO, Oxfam Armenia, Society without Violence NGO and the Near East Foundation.

The main aim of the Conference is discussing the current challenges and perspectives related to Gender Equality in Armenia and other European countries and providing the participants a platform for networking and developing partnerships, good quality projects locally and internationally.

 

International Training Course on Migration and Youth is Being Launched in Yerevan

Current migration’s processes largely affect youth since a tangible percentage of migrants are young people. In reality, many young people face discrimination at their home, public domain and very often are subject to bullying. What is more, youth is often excluded from the public debate and discussions; their voice is hardly heard. And here, youth organizations and youth workers are often the ones who promote intercultural dialogue through human rights education among young people.

“Armenian Progressive Youth Progressive Youth” NGO together in partnership with “Active Ukrainians in Europe” NGO launches a multi-layer project entitled as ‘Unity in diversity? From challenges to opportunities’. The project will gather 32 youth workers and youth educators from Armenia, Denmark, Georgia, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine from 30 March to 7 April in Yerevan, Armenia to discuss how current military conflicts and migration processes affect young people and analyze the current migration challenges in Europe trying to offer solutions from the perspective of youth work.

A conference on Migration and Youth will be hold within the project on April 5th which will highlight the importance of youth workers and young people in the debates on migration and discussing how youth workers can use the intercultural dialogue tools to combat intolerance towards migrants.

The youth workers will come up together to analyze the emigration and immigration situation in participating countries and to find out the causes of migration, to share experiences and best practices of integrating young migrants in youth organizations.

The most important outcome of the training will be the development of Recommendation paper and Toolkit for the youth workers. It would include the participants’ best practice examples (various games and exercises on intercultural communication, inclusion tools) and recommendations on the work with young immigrants. It will help to avoid prejudices and cultural misunderstanding. The ToolKit will be uploaded on Salto Tool Box to make the material accessible for other youth workers to be applied in their daily youth work.

How to survive the multicultural society?

by Dave Poghosyan, APY Volunteer

Unity of cultural diversity is and has always been one of the strongest factors of human nature’s further development. But still no matter how far we go into science and Mother Nature, there are still dozens of factors which represent barriers for effective “human race” communication process. The training course «How to Survive the Multicultural Society» organized by Armenian Progressive Youth NGO (Armenia) and JUB International (the Netherlands) was implemented with  teaching methods that supported participants not get confused and actually understand “how to survive in multicultural society”.

We were from different corners of the word. Indeed each of us was different from others but for none of us that weren’t strange as none of us was feeling more special as all of us was special in our own way. We cooperated with each other and discovered that how enormous strength is being united and how wealthy we become with our diversity, too.

Non-formal education was leading our way every morning. Intercultural love becomes a factor to hold on and never give up with positive hopes about the future. We learnt respect while being respected, to hear by being heard, to see the whole picture by being part of it and to care more as everyone was carrying about us. Life will go on, it will change, change us as well. But the plants of “peace”, “friendship” and “care” that we grew in our hearts will never make us to change the attitude to each other and to world because we for see each of us is part of big world, big diversity, big future.

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Trainers Against Discrimination

by Vahe Tumanyan, APY Volunteer

Training of Trainers “Trainers against discrimination” is a project implemented in three phases. The first ToT was conducted on September 9-16, Rustavi, Georgia. During the training 18 participants from Armenia, Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Poland and Croatia gathered together to further develop their competences and skills as trainers. Furthermore, the training aimed at evolving participants’ skills on how to facilitate a simulation game. After a 7-day intensive work the group created a new simulation game which reflected the issue of discrimination.

The training was followed by a practical phase where participants implemented the game in their own countries. On 30th and 31st of November 2015 several young people gathered together at ”Institute For Democracy And Human Rights (IDHR)” NGO’s office to participate in a simulation game powered by ”Armenian Progressive Youth” NGO. Simulation game is a model of demonstrating the reality when the participants play certain roles and develop alternative approaches to problem-solving. Besides, simulation games are very useful tools to create trust among people. Before starting the game the participants had the opportunity to get to know each other better via some funny games.

The topic of the simulation game was national minorities’ issue. The participants were given a situation often encountered in life, everyone had his or her own role in it and they had to discuss the issue and find the best solution to it.

The aim of the game was to increase the awareness of national minorities’ integration and current problems among the young people, to create a platform to discuss discrimination and conflict issues and to help participants develop new skills and competences. The game was implemented in English because some of the participants were APY EVS program volunteers.

The project was held by ”Creative Development Center” and ”CRISP” organization, after which followed the meeting of the trainers in Split, Croatia. During the meeting the participants evaluated on the games implemented in their local realities. They shared experiences, good and bad practices, challenges they faced as facilitators and established networks for future cooperation.  The training gave the participants unique opportunity to learn to use a simulation game as a powerful tool in dealing with a wide spread discrimination issue and provide young people with a platform where they can make their own decisions and come up with solutions to the problem.

Chance to come closer to Europe

All of us dream about success and luck but neither success nor luck manage to visit us all. Sometimes all we need is more information about more opportunities but no matter how hard we search, if we seek in wrong place we’ll never find the needed chance.

On May 8 APY volunteers implemented campaign disseminating Erasmus+ opportunities for Armenian Youth. A group of ambitious youngsters from Armenian Progressive Youth NGO decided to share with young part of the society opportunities of studying and getting experience abroad. “If opportunity doesn’t knock, we must build a door”. Studying opportunities are everywhere but unfortunately not every faced lesson can be useful for our further activities or future success. And for pushing youth to better future Armenian Progressive Youth’s active volunteers decided to make an event of sharing information about access to abroad education in shapes of Erasmus+ opportunities.

APY volunteers distributed fliers informing about the opportunities available for Armenian Youth and disseminated them near universities and public places where young people come together. The main aim was raising awareness about world’s opportunities regarding studying and youth exchanges with educational purpose.

Hovsep Karoyan is an APY volunteer. He studies in University and already used several opportunities given by Erasmus+ and Youth in Action programs. He told us that he’s very happy to have a chance of sharing some valuable information with his society and being useful for some Young people future career. He said that the most important gift for him is feeling himself helpful for something or somebody. “Life is given once. If we want to be successful we must never skip opportunities of life as well as some of them will never be met again. I wish that all Armenian youngsters will manage to use the given opportunities”,-added Hovsep while sharing his motivation with us. The action was implemented as contribution to Europe day information week taking place in Armenia during May, 2015.

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