“Everyone Matters” Fellowship Program in Berlin, Germany

1 year and 4 months ago, Armenian Progressive Youth NGO launched the long-term project “Everyone Matters! Development of Inclusive and Participatory Youth Work Practices in Eastern Partnership countries”. As a part of the project, four of APY staff members, Henrik Sahakyan, Anna Tovmasyan, Nelly Paytyan and Artashes Papyan took part in a Fellowship Program in Berlin, Germany. This phase of the project was designed to provide a chance for civic organizations operating in Eastern Partnership countries including Armenia, Georgia, Belarus and Ukraine to have a week-long Fellowship in EU-based Civil Society Organizations operating in Germany, Belgium and Sweden for knowledge and cultural exchange. Prior to the fellowship program, APY organized training courses for youth workers in Armenia, as well as, a huge conference which took place in Tbilisi, Georgia.

As a part of Fellowship Program, few members of APY spent a week in social impact startup named TeachSurfing. Henrik presents the organization with the following words, “Basically, the organization itself is a platform which connects Trainers (the TeachSurfers) willing to transfer their knowledge and skills and Organizations such as schools and NGOs who are in need of trainers. The whole activities of the organization including the workshops and training courses are organized on a voluntary basis”.

Henrik also said, “Surprisingly, there are currently 57 host organizations in Armenia registered to TeachSurfing. Although I was familiar with TeachSurfing before due to our partnership, I got a chance to take a closer look at the organization, participate in its daily activities and make a better connection with its members. In general, I felt quite impressed with the idea, mission and the activities of the organization.”

He further elaborates his experience that he had in this one week, “During the program, I worked on the analysis of their social media channels of TeachSurfing in parallel with my role in APY. I have reached out their social media platforms, made a SWOT analysis and presented my findings. Since common and frequent usage of social media channels, social media management is one of the key components that is essential for the success of any kind of business today, whether for profit or non-profit. Promoting the organization and reaching a broader audience is more achievable through social media and resultantly, strong social media presence is quite significant for international organizations such as APY and TeachSurfing.”

Since APY is on the edge of strategic and missionary changes, Henrik believes he can make significant contributions to the organization with the assistance of his recent experience: “In the upcoming weeks, we will have teamwork rate meeting to evaluate our past and current activities. Additionally, in October, 2019, we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of our organization and we are planning to develop a new organizational strategy and widen our target audience. I believe I can transfer the knowledge that I gained during this fellowship programme in our meetings and initiate to adapt work practices that I have encountered to enhance our organization.”

Anna Tovmasyan, the Project Manager of APY, also participated in a week-long Fellowship Program. She describes her experience within the program as following, “During the project, I tried to provide a link between organizations in Armenia, which could establish partnership with TeachSurfing by sending official emails. During the research, I found out that there are 57 organizations operating in Armenia, and my main goal was to spread the info on the platform among Armenian partners.”

She describes her most important intakes and her future plans for the organization: “The most impressive thing that I encountered during this program was the appreciation of volunteerism in European Union countries. In EU countries, volunteers are willingly devoting their time and efforts for self-fulfillment and for the sake of helping others. In comparison, the notion of volunteerism is not quite developed in Armenia yet for both organizations and volunteers, however, we would like to change that and bring a new attitude toward volunteerism. In addition, we are planning to strengthen our partnerships with organizations who would be willing to host TeachSurfers and organize a workshop related with project management in the future.”