These are some words that came into the mind of one of the participants in the “EMBRACE! Embracing Diversity through Cultural Exchange” Youth Exchange project when describing her experience of the project.
“EMBRACE! Embracing Diversity through Cultural Exchange” Youth Exchange project gathered 30 young people from 6 different countries in the snowy town of Aparan, Armenia. Many young people in Europe lack opportunities and spaces to get involved and express themselves – especially if they are different from mainstream societies, many get isolated and excluded. Hence, there was an idea to initiate a project which would gather youngsters from different organizations and backgrounds in Armenia to work together toward a common goal. Facilitating most of the activities themselves, it was the participants’ responsibility to create an inclusive and interactive learning atmosphere.
Milena from Armenia shared her experience of being a part of the project: “This was a good chance to learn about sensitive topics outside my country. Learning that we all come from different backgrounds but still face similar problems was eye-opening. We can all learn from each other and I realized that young people around the world are working on the same objectives for a more diverse and inclusive future”. She also mentioned how important it was for her to experience the amazing outcomes of working in teams.
Vanja from Bosnia and Herzegovina was amazed by the atmosphere of the project: “It was the first time that I was able to see so much diversity and no prejudices whatsoever in the same place. The project environment was highly inspiring and gave me hope that our society is really changing for the better”. Having brought a number of people from different countries together, the EMBRACE seminar has encouraged Vanja to be more empathetic and appreciate diversity to a greater extent: “I improved my knowledge on topics such as anti-discrimination, human rights, and European values”.
The time they spent in Aparan was a safe space for the participants to freely express their ideas and share their concerns with like-minded people. The experience will not end here in Armenia, but the participants of the project will develop joint follow-up projects on diversity and anti-discrimination within the Erasmus+ program back in their communities.
The project was implemented by Armenian Progressive Youth in collaboration with Lou Bequet and funded under the Erasmus+ program of the European Union.