“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.

 

Մեր կամավորների բնապահպանական դասընթացները Ա. Շիրակացու անվան ճեմարանում

Ինչպես գիտեք, ՀԱԵ-ում կա 4 աշխատանքային խումբ, որից մեկը մեր էկո-ակտիվիստ կամավորների բնապահպանական ակումբը կամ աշխատանքային խումբն է։ Այս տարվա հոկտեմբերի 20-ից նրանք ակտիվ կերպով դասընթացներ են անցկացնում Ա. Շիրակացու անվան ճեմարանի միջին տարիքային աշակերտների հետ: Կամավորների նպատակը ոչ ֆորմալ կրթության միջոցով և ոչ ֆորմալ կրթական մեթոդները օգտագործելով դպրոցականներին տեղեկացնելն է շրջակա միջավայրին սպառնացող խնդիրների մասին և հարստացնել բնապահպանությանն ու շրջակա միջավայրի պահպանությանը վերաբերող գիտելիքներով: Առաջին դասընթացի ընթացքում կամավորները երեխաներին ներկայացրին ՛՛Աղբի նվազեցումը, վերաօգտագործումը և վերամշակումը՛՛ թեման, որն ինքնին ոչ այնքան ծանոթ ու շահարկված թեմա էր աշկաերտների շրջանում ըստ կամավորների և անտեղյակության պատճառով բազմաթիվ խնդիրներ է առաջացնում շրջակա միջավայրի անվտանգության համար:

15384358_10210142980723269_5876413984543816634_o Հանդիպման ընթացքում ՀԿ-ի կամավորները պատմեցին ՝ ինչպես կարելի է աղբից օգուտ ստանալ և ինչ քայլեր են անհրաժեշտ դրա վերամշակման և վերաօգտագործման համար: Անցկացվեցին նաև մի քանի խմբային պրակտիկ աշխատանքներ՝ համոզվելու, թե ինչպես են թեման յուրացրել աշակերտները: Դասի վերջում կամավորներից մեկը՝ Վահան Ղազարյանը, նրանց պատմեց իրական պատմություն այն մասին, թե ինչպես մի աղքատ իտալացի իր ձեռքով աղբից պատրաստած (պլաստիկ շշեր , սիլիկոն , պոլիէթիլենային տոպրակ) գլուխգործոցները վաճառում Միլանի նորաձևության համաշխաարհային փառատոններից մեկի ժամանակ և վաստակում կլորիկ գումար: Հետաքրքիր և անսովոր պատմությունն իրոք տպավորեց աշակերտներին, և նրանք ավելի խանդավառորեն սկսեցին վերաբերել դասընթացին: Առավել հաճախ արծարծվող թեմաների շարքում էր նաև Էներգիայի և ջրի խնայումը, դրանց ստացման այլընտրանքային ձևերը թեման: Դասի ընթացքում ներկայացվեց, թե ինչպես կարելի է խնայել էներգիա՝ օգտագործելով նոր սերնդի լամպեր, չմոռանալով անջատել լույսերը սենյակից դուրս գալիս , իջեցնել ջեռուցային համակարգի մարտկոցների ջերմաստիճանը գիշերը և այլն, անտեղի ջուր չվատնել ատամները լվալիս, լոգանք ընդունել ավելի կարճ ժամանակում և, իհարկե, մանրամասնորեն ներկայացվեց ջրի և էներգիայի ստացման այլընտրանքային միջոցները , դրանց արդյունավետությունը , ցուցադրվեցին անիմացիոն տեսահոլովակներ դրանց վերաբերյալ: Աշակերտներին նաև հանձնարարվեցին խմբային աշխատանքներ , տեղի ունեցավ շատ հետաքրքիր և բուռն քննարկում , և աշակերտները տվեցին իրենց հետաքրքրող բոլոր հարցերն ու կամավորների կողմից ստացան դրանց պատասխանները:
15578245_10210142974643117_7555972129441607028_oՄեր լուսանկարիչ-կամավոր Էլեն Բադալյանն էլ որսաց բազմաթիվ պահեր՝ ամբողջացնելով դասի դրական նկարագիրը : Հավելենք, որ ՀԿ-ի կամավորները այցելում են ճեմարան գրեթե ամեն հինգշաբթի՝անցկացնելու հերթական դասընթացը : Շուտով մեր կամավորները արդեն կամփոփեն դաընթացները ու սերտիֆիկատներ կհանձնեն աշակերտներին ամբողջական դասընթացի մասնակցության համար։

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

French Volunteer’s EVS Experience in Armenia

Marilou Albero came to Armenian Progressive Youth in Armenia from France to do a 6 months long European Voluntary Service (EVS). We have asked her about her experience with Armenia and her EVS life. Marilou says that she decided to participate in an EVS because she thinks it is a good way to be involved in a project and to discover a new country. “Concerning Armenia though”, she says, “I didn’t really choose to go to specifically Armenia, it was more the opportunity. But I guess I was really curious about this region of the world”.

Marilou’s role in the Armenian Progressive Youth organisation was focused on communication work. She was, among others, updating the website. During the training courses she was responsible for visibility at social medias, for an example to post information about the activities on Facebook. “I learnt many professional skills related to communication skills during my time with Armenian Progressive Youth, for an example how to take good pictures and how to write an article.” When coming to Armenia, she recalls, a big obstacle was the language, but the cultural shock was probably bigger than the language problems. “For me the main difficulties were some of the traditional values of this country. As a “french feminist girl” it was difficult to learn about the differences of rights for girls and LGBT people in Armenia, compared to what I was used to. I never realized that before. Maybe, I was a bit naive.”

Marilou explains that she did not know much about European programs before she came to Armenian Progressive Youth. Because of this, she says, it took her almost three months to understand that the organisation was doing and how it was working. “I think, if I could do one thing differently, I would have studies the organisation before arriving. In this way I maybe could have understood my role better, and have taken more initiatives”. Concerning support, she says that she had everything she needed. “Armenian Progressive Youth and Armenia was very welcoming; I am very thankful for that”. Marilou received language courses like all volunteers enrolled in the EVS programs do. She says though, that learning Armenian in 6 months is not very realistic.

As for coming back to visit Armenia, Marilou already did. “I came back to Armenia 6 months after my volunteering as a participant in one of the trainings organized by Armenian Progressive Youth.” If Marilou could advise a future volunteer coming to Armenia, she says it would be to bring books. “It is almost impossible to find books in foreign languages in Yerevan.”

Interviewed and written by Edith and Tamara, 2 APY volunteers

Youth for Rights

Last week a group of young human rights activists from Armenia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Russia and the EU came together at the “Youth for Rights” Eastern Partnership Youth Conference 2016 to make stronger links between countries and participate in training and capacity-building activities. The EaP Youth Conference was organized by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) and held under the patronage of the Slovak Presidency in the Council of the European Union.

The “Youth for Rights” conference held on 27-28 October in Slovakian capital Bratislava has brought together 145 young people who advocate for democratic development in their societies. Armenian Progressive Youth NGO was also invited to the conference as a part of the Armenian delegation comprised of civil society organizations, human rights activists and active young people.
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The main aim of the conference was to facilitate cooperation and contacts between the participants and to create stronger and trust-based links for the future. Besides the sessions in plenary, the
participants have participated in training and capacity-building activities and have worked together within the 5 sub-groups entitled “Youth for democracy”, “Youth for environment”, “Youth for inclusion and diversity”, “Youth for education” and “Youth at work”.

As Armenian Progressive Youth NGO mainly works in the area of non-formal and civic education in Armenia, it was represented in the “Youth for education” sub-group by our Vice-President, Mr. Grigor Yeritsyan. The sub-group has focused on the problems in the areas of higher education, non-formal education and civic education in the Eastern Partnership countries and have elaborated a list of recommendations that are addressed to governmental and non-governmental stakeholders responsible for education in each EaP country, including Armenia.

30693620026_3659cc8601_oThe results of the conference, including the above-mentioned recommendations and the resolution that has been approved by the conference, will be presented during the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Annual Assembly, which will take place on 28-30 November 2016 in Brussels. Armenian Progressive Youth NGO is will be the part of the national delegation at the annual conference in Brussels that will be gathering 200 representatives of civil society organisations from the EaP region and the EU.

Another aim of the event was to create synergies between the EaP Youth Conference and the next EaP Youth Forum 2017 (Budapest) that will gather youth representatives nominated by respective EaP governments, and the EU, contributing with policy recommendations to the Forum.

“Young generation fills me with the hope and optimism for the future. They are best suited to address the challenges in their countries and work with the communities at the local level” says Katarina Mathernova, the Deputy Director General of DG NEAR, European Commission.

“Young human rights activists, their organizations and civic initiatives should be encouraged. We should make their voices heard. They should become the shapers of the youth policy in the EU Member States and EaP countries,” commented Hovsep Khurshudyan, EaP CSF Steering Committee Member, Working Group 4 and main conference coordinator.

The idea of the conference was born during the EaP CSF Platform 4 meeting in Brussels on 14 December 2015, the event was consequently included into the EaP 2016 working plans, and stands out as a positive example of efficient cooperation with the civil society within the multilateral dimension of the Eastern Partnership policy.

Please find below the Declaration and the Resolution adopted at the Conference:

 

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“Stone Age in Us” Youth Exchange Project in Lithuania

The youth exchange “Stone Age in Us” took place in wonderful Lithuania in mid-July, with 31 amazing young people form Armenia, Estonia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Lithuania and Portugal.

Some of us have been to their first project, some others hopefully not the last one. And this are impressions of some of Armenian participants.

Davit Baghdasaryan

The project “Stone age in us” gave me the opportunity to discover not only the habits and national character of other countries but also their deep routes coming from very ancient times. During the project we felt closer to the nature due to camping and hiking. The life in tents, evenings around the bonfire, preparing food on fire and different relevant workshops made us to feel the spirit of Stone Age. This helped us also to become a strong team by overcoming several challenges and difficulties. With this team we managed to take care of the ecology by organizing the habitat of rare species of butterflies.13939320_938691632944015_9008733182869103635_n

As my first project it exceeded my expectations. Furthermore, I acquired a lot of new friends of different nationalities and I believe that due to our newly formed but enough strong friendship we will meet again and again somewhere in Europe and will ensure the success of other projects as well.

Lilit Baghdasaryan

The idea of the project “Stone age in us” interested me from the beginning. It was informative to know the traditions of other countries and their problems. We understood that we have many things in common. I very much like the atmosphere of participant countries and acquired a lot of new friends, whom I hope I will see again. For me the best part of the project was the time that we spend in the woods. I learn a lot of things about camping. Also we did workshops. At the workshops we show each other what hand skills we know, so at the end of the project we learned a lot of new things. Most of all in this few days I liked participants of the project, and we spend a really good time together.

Vahan Ghazaryan

During the project ”Stone age in us” I learned lots of important and necessary thing which I’ll need in future. At first I was a little disappointing/shy, because everything was new for me: new people, unusual and not popular topic we should discuss and the idea that we are spending 2-3 nights in the forest. I always like the things or events which are connected with the nature, the environment.

13957989_938691816277330_2942290366513940318_oThis week was one of the most important and special in my life. I learned how to make a tent, to sleep inside it, to have a amazing expedition while hearing the birds voices, and doing every step with a great pleasure, with singing, dancing, and joking. I aquired lots of new friends from Portugal, Macedonia, Estonia, and Lithunania. Everything was unforgettable and every second I was enjoying my time. Thank you Lithuania.

Mané Matevossian

For now I know one thing for sure. I could never imagine this very first project of mine could replenish my monotone life with so many amazing colors just in two weeks. Each participant from his/her own country added their own sweet taste to this project which I could never ever forget. Thanks to the participants open mindedness and passion concerning the theme, we created the best of the ancient human’s world with its culture and appropriate way of living. We created various handmade jewelries, wood cups. And the hiking we had and the festival we organized are the real proofs that we succeed in creating a brave “stone age” person in ourselves. Particularly, the camping spent in the village Mozuriškes gave us the chance to act and think differently. As it was in the ancient times, also in the camp too we did everything as a group and nothing prevented us from our resistant attitude. I really hope that it was the first, but not the last project with these kinds of lovely and bright people are.

The exchange project was developed and implemented in cooperation with the following partners: Armenian Progressive Youth, Volunteer’s Center Skopje, Continuous Action, AEVA, and the hosting organization: LOBIU DIRBTUVES.

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