From 26th March-4th April 2019 Erasmus+ project called “Breaking Walls, Building Bridges” took place in Athens, Greece, organized by E.K.O.. Around 40 youth workers from Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Armenia participated in the youth exchange program.
The chief goal of the program was to promote non-discrimination, respect for cultural diversity, a sense of solidarity and a strong commitment to protecting peace, even at the face of conflict among young people. The project was also aiming at breaking walls between the countries which have had long-standing conflicts through cooperation, discussion as well as cultural sharing.
Here is what our volunteers share about their experience in the program:
For me this program was a small step leading to a new and conscious society, where people are not labeled by their nationality, but are respected and loved just the way they are. It also showed me that people from conflict countries can be friends. As an Armenian I met Turkish people for the first time, and the same was for the Greek-Cypriot participants. We all became good friends, great team members and I do hope that this connection will stay strong over the years.
I learned about the conflict between Turkish, Cypriot and Greek people. I made new Turkish friends during the program who helped me overcome my stereotypes about Turkey and Turkish people. If before I would never go to Turkey because of my fears and stereotypes, now I am more than happy to be heading to Turkey in a couple of days, to explore the country, culture, to meet my old and new Turkish friends.
I have met Turkish youngsters during many different APY programs before. However, this program was unique in that it was specifically designed to address the conflicts between countries. The program provided a platform for fruitful and respectful intercultural exchange. Together with my Turkish friends we discussed the conflict between our countries and made sure once again that we can achieve a peaceful resolution of the problem via dialogue between our nations.
We are thrilled to be a part of such peace-building activities which teach youth workers to celebrate cultural diversity, to think critically, to be open-minded and to be motivated to build peace in the world via respectful and intellectual dialogues!