After several years of project experience and work with so-called difficult youngsters, adolescents with challenging behavior Armenian Progressive Youth NGO (Armenia) and Föreningen Framtidståget(Sweden) have recognized that often we speak about important world issues and try to influence global problems, but do not notice, that our relationship with the world very much depends on the relationship with our nearest people.
Santa Barbara is a Training Course aiming to show the importance of personal and family relationship in young people’s future by self-reflection
and making correlations between personal life and social and political engagement.
Among others, the training contained study visits to NGOs in Armenia working on women’s rights. The visits made a great opportunity for the international participants to learn more about gender based violence in Armenia, and to share the situations in their countries with the group. Another session was focused on non-violence communication, which were both practical and theoretical exercises. Naturally, the schedule also allowed to dive into Armenian culture such as visiting the Pagan temple in Garni, which was followed with a traditional dinner in an Armenian family.
One of the participants, Laura Reisele from Latvia, said that for her the training course was about self-development and self-awareness, getting deeper into one’s personal issues, unsolved problems and conflicts which we can see and observe mostly in the family. During this week in Armenia we tried not just to explore others, their cultures, but also ourselves. ”I enjoyed our gender related discussions in order to tackle the topic, life stories and the friendly atmosphere all around. It was a sincere place — cocoon — where from tears and happiness new butterflies learned to fly.”
Another participant, Iryna Azaranka from Sweden, said that her main impression was that the course was very good balanced from the beginning to the end. It was just right amount of knowledge and sightseeing. «Also», she continues, «I liked the involvement with the locals, when we had to really start discussions to answer the city game questions. Some of the methods used were very interesting. For an example on patterns of communications, it has already been useful in my personal life»!
She described that the group contained different levels of gender awareness, which from time to time was difficult to relate to. Furthermore, she highlighted that the sightseeing to the Armenian countryside and mountains were a magnificent experience. «For me it was a calming time and also time of insights”, she adds.
Mihai Lovu from Moldova says that the training course tought him about the differences between Moldova and Armenia in stereotypes and gender issues. He also adds that he will definitely remember the people from the training. Pedro Soares from Portugal also emphasizes that he will remember the participants and that the group was a very good experience.