Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) in collaboration with TOG (Community Volunteers Foundation, Turkey) organised the first exchange visit of Turkey-based youth workers and volunteers to Armenia on November 19-21, 2016 implemented within EPF’s ATNP2 YouthBank activity.
YouthBank is a unique way of involving young people in grant-making within their local community. It is an international initiative, the idea of which is forming decision-making committees run by young people, that later would distribute funding to projects designed and run by young people. The projects address issues and concerns relevant to them and their community.
The group of young community leaders from different regions of Armenia (Armavir, Lori, Tavush, Yeghegnadzor) and Turkey (Batman, Istanbul, Izmir, Samsun, Sanliurfa) spent 3 days together implementing small-scale confidence-building projects aimed at sustaining the dialogue and engaging in community development. During the YouthBank event in Armenia, the participants travelled together across the regions of Armenia and visited local branches of YouthBank as well as local organisations dealing with Human Rights and social issues. On the first day, the group visited the city of Armavir, where they met their counterparts from the Armavir YouthBank and learned about the projects and activities it supported. Participants from Turkey talked about their YouthBank projects and compared those with the ones presented.
The group also visited the city of Gyumri, where the participants met with Gyumri YouthBank members, listened to their stories and exchanged ideas on possible cooperation. Another destination point in Gyumri was the Art Studio, where the group discovered new ways self-expression through art. In addition, the participants also discussed follow-up plans, prepared a wish list, and talked about potential joint programs and identified donors for project ideas. They also brainstormed and elaborated peacebuilding ideas to be implemented jointly in the second stage of the YouthBank activity planned for Spring 2017 in Turkey within ATNP2.
Emilya from YouthBank Armenia shared her impressions:
“If someone offered me to meet young people from Turkey a year ago, I would have definitely refused. My attitude toward “the other side” started changing after I graduated from EPF’s Conflict Transformation School. I compare myself with an iceberg; the top started melting right after the School last year, whereas the rest of the ice melted after meeting the Turkish participants.”
YouthBank Turkey Handenur’s short video on her travel to Armenia (in Turkish):
Ms. Arpine Aleksanyan and Ms. Sona Baloyan from Yerevan, from “Matenadaran” Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, were supported with the travel grant to visit Istanbul, Turkey for meetings with the Armenian Patriarchate, Armenian high schools, foundations and publishing houses to discuss possibilities of further collaboration on preserving the Armenian culture.