Conflict vs. Connection: A Practical Training for Young Peace-Builders – Armenia


Programme & action: ERASMUS+, Key Action 1: Training Course

Venue: Yerevan, Armenia

Dates: 10 – 17 April 2017

Participants: Martin Fišer, Kateřina Nováková, Aneta Hejrovská

Please read the info pack

Hosting organisation:  Armenian Progressive Youth NGO

Participating organisations: Armenia, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Russian Federation, Ukraine and Turkey

Project report:

Into the heart of the Caucasus: Armenia

Project „Conflict vs. Connection: A Practical Training for Young Peace-Builders” took place in Yerevan, Armenia from 10 to 17 April 2017. This project was organized by Armenian Progressive Youth NGO, sending organization was European youth centre Břeclav.

This project was specific by the numbers of participating country – officially we had 13 (Armenia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Ukraine, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Russian Federation, Turkey), but in total we have even more, because of roots of some participants. We had also: Kazakhstan, Syria or Canada.. So it was really international INTERNATIONAL project. And topic was kind of difficult: conflicts vs connections. In most of the participating countries there are or there were some serious international conflicts, even in host country there is big conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia for the territory of Nagorno Karabach(“Arcach”), so project was very actual and present.

We lived in hotel Capital, very nice hotel with the view to the Ararat Mountain and also monument remembering Armenian genocide (again very big conflict in the past, which still has big consequences till today), where we also had our conference room where most of the activities were organized. At the beginning we have some typical name games to know each other and then nice team building activity called “city rally” where we had to complete some tasks ( do an interview with locals, make some photos, etc..) We had to find some place in the city which represent for us peace, so it was very good to meet locals, to get know a bit the city and also each other. During next days we learned also some theory (what is conflict, how is defined, type and level of conflicts, but also how to resolve and transform conflicts, how to apply correctly non-violent communication, etc.. ) and also we had lot of practical exercises and simulations to show how to use what we learned. For example we were separated in different groups and each of them was playing some role: we had NGO, government, rebels, mediators, supporting country etc.. and everybody has some basic information about the conflict in the imaginary country and it s consequences. We simply had several meeting and we tried to find common ground. It wasn’t t really easy as it is not in real life.

Also we had NGO fair where we tried to promote our NGOs and also to make connections with other participants for the future projects. We had also very nice intercultural evening which was with so many countries very colorful. Most interesting was probably “Armenian wedding”, where one of the participant got “married” with one Armenian girl. We had chance to see traditional outfit, dances, bread breaking etc.. It was very warm and we had lot of fun.

We had also other chance to learn more about the culture. One day we went to excursion to local temples Garni for ex. Which was simple breath-taking. We experienced home-made making of “lavache” (“Armenian bread) which is also officially part of UNESCO heritage and then making of “sujuk” (Sujuk is a sausage-shaped confection, made from walnuts, sewn onto a string, and dipped in thickened grape must and dried.) I tried also made one and it was very very good attempt, but just attempt J We experienced also dinner in family style.

Czech team has also little bit of time before official start of the project and also after. So we used it of course to travel and to discover this wonderful country. We travel by hitch-hiking through nearly whole country. We went to Goris and to monumental temple Tatev with its marvelous valleys and mountains. And also I had chance to go to the north to lake Sevan in 1400 meters above the sea and to swim little bit ( temperature was really death-freezing). We also discover beauty of Yerevan – of course we liked lot Cascade whit its beautiful views to the city and adjacent mountains and very peaceful and welcoming parks and squares.

Project was very difficult because of the topic but also very useful thanks to the topic. For me biggest benefit was passionate discussions with other participants about conflict and situations in their countries, which were triggered by the different activities. We were discussing all day, all night ,-)

At the end I would like to thank in the name of Czech team for very good organization to APY and then to EYCB for giving us opportunity to travel so far to Caucasus and discover so many inspirational people, stories, country and also to discover more our own hearts. Thank you!

                                                                                                                                                                                               Martin Fišer


Conflict vs Connection:

A Training for Young Peace Builders in Armenia

From 10th to 17th of April, Armenian Progressive Youth NGO (Armenia) in partnership with TeachSurfing (Germany) hosted 45 youth workers from 12 different countries; Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. They were hosted in Armenia to participate in the eight-day international training course “Conflict vs Connection: A Training for Young Peace Builders”.

The implementation of this international Training Course in Armenia was due to the existing conflicts in the region, which in their turn negatively impact both Armenia’s and the neighbouring countries’ development. The course focused mainly on the topics of conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peace building and conflict management, which are very relevant in the participating countries. As a result, participants of the course have learnt to consider cultural, ethnic and religious diversity as an opportunity and not an obstacle.

The ambition to build peace has been among the political and diplomatic circles of the participating countries. However, many of the conflicts are still unresolved, influencing young people living in those countries. More often, young people are the ones who become victims of violent conflicts and wars.

Within the project, a public “Human Library” event was organized. Local and international participants of the event had heard a lot about Muslims, Buddhists, people of different nationalities and groups, but never had a chance to meet and talk to them, ask them about their daily life, ambitions, aspirations and concerns. “Human Library” was a great opportunity. Human Library works as an ordinary library: readers came to the library, choose a book and read it. The only difference is that books are humans, and the reading is a real conversation.

During the Training Course, 45 participants had the chance to participate in lots of interactive exercises and non-formal educational activities, identifying the reasons of conflicts, possible solutions and the role that young people can play in conflict resolution processes. Additionally to discussing the cross-border and international conflicts, they discussed also interpersonal conflicts and learnt about effective strategies to overcome them.

The International Training Course was organized by Armenian Progressive Youth (Armenia) and TeachSurfing (Germany). It’s been a unique project with its wide geographical scope and the relevance of the subject. The project was funded under the Erasmus+ program of the European Union.

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