The airplane landed at 3 in the night at Yerevan airport’s surprisingly modern airport. Modern and well built, but a little faceless as all modern airport buildings are. Our first encounter with real Armenia did we have immediately when I discovered a hedgehog living in the trunk of my taxi. These taxis became a daily experience of our trip as we rode on the backseat of old Ladas, without seatbelts, hoping our trip would go well.
Yerevan downtown is a modern, almost west European city and you could mistakenly believe you are somewhere southern France, but when you come into the outskirts you notice this is a poor country and when you see the countryside you think even the Banlieu is rich. Whilst Yerevan is full of white and black SUV and large Mercedes limousines on the countryside you can see people residing in what are mere shacks. Houses that are little more then a tin roof and some bare walls.
One of the youth centers we visited was opposite from the state security service so we were not allowed to take any pictures, as not to endanger the security of the Republic of Armenia, but I guess they have little trouble with anti social behavior of youth around the place. „One week after Armenia – some thoughts“ weiterlesen
This morning we had a very interesting talk and discussion about environmental campaigning and issues in Armenia by one of its foremost advocates. Later we went to KASA foundation again to get some more insights into their work and also visit a theatre group, who do a lot of forum theatre to rise awareness of social, political and gender issues.
It is late and I tomorrow we will go to see Armenias second city Gymri. However it was good to have some time off in the afternoon to get to see a little bit of the city as well.
On the photo you see Andreas Bender, chairman of the umbrella organisation presenting its work and structure.
The first two days of our study visit to Armenia are over, its long past midnight as a write these lines, but I promised to report. We had two very interesting meetings today, one with the Armenian Ministry on Youth and Sports the other one with representatives of the Youth NGO, both of them were on the topic of youth in Armenia.
The Ministry for Youth explains the youth report
Youth research and statistical data is not widely available in Armenia, as there have been only two reports on the situation of young people. Which are defined differently from how we do it here in western Europe, as people between the age of 18 – 30. And their views on issues like genderrelations, marriage, divorce, politics. For me striking was, that more then 11 % of all these people sampled were member of a political party. Which the experts explain that some people do not know that they are member of a party and others are only member because its good or expected for their career. When we asked on the views and situations of people below that age, the Ministry people could not give any answer, as apparently they have never done a survey on this. „im Prinzip ja, aber“ weiterlesen
Right now I and three other people from the umbrella organisation of youth councils in Baden-Württemberg are on our way to Armenia, or as the natives call it Hayastan. We will go there to study youth participation and informal education. The trip is financed by the youth in action program of the EU and organised by the Polish Fundacja Civis Polonus. I hope to gain many insights into this country in „wilder“ Europe.
Whilst preparing I found this quote from a book about the Caucasus:
„Given all these problems, can one ever really think of the Caucasus as Europe? To conceive of Europe as a place that does not stop at the Oder River or even the Bosphorus became possible once Europe refashioned itself as a set of values rather than a self-evident set of boundaries.
Seeing things in that way has required a gargantuan effort to forget, to shove into the dark corners of the past those values that have most often defined Europeanness: nationalism, chauvinism, and a penchant for the authoritarian state.
In other words, it requires that today’s Europeans and those who wish to join them continue to do what they have done since 1945—to engage in a collective rethinking of the past that enables a creative, liberating, and humane imagining of the future.“ King, C. (2008). The Ghost of Freedom:A History of the Caucasus. Oxford University Press, USA.
It summs the situation, as far as I could gather from books, up very well. Now I’m eager to see the real thing. I’ll keep you updated here on my blog and also on my twitter. I hope to show you some pictures as well.
We will fly out there tonight arrive very early in the morning in Eriwan and then have parts of monday off, the meetings will start on tuesday and we will all be back on monday the 5th.