PH International

US-based Summer Leadership Camp for 72 Armenian, Turkish and American Students

Armenia | Youth LAB - Leadership Across Borders | 28 Sep 2011

''YouthLAB - Leadership Across Borders'' Program implemented by the Armenian and the US offices of PH International, in partnership with Ari Movement NGO in Turkey, aims to promote a cross-cultural dialogue and leadership skills among Armenian, Turkish and American participant youth. It is also committed to educating them about the ways and mechanisms of introducing significant changes in their own communities.

Since March of 2011, 72 high school students (24 from each country) selected through an open, merit-based recruitment process, within the program actively participate in online discussions about leadership, social entrepreneurship, and peace building in their region.

Throughout July 7-27, 2011 all 72 students got together in Warren, state of Vermont, U.S., where they participated in a 2-week Summer Leadership Camp, after which, for 4 days, the Armenian and Turkish participants were hosted by their American peers' families.

The days in the camp were full and busy with different skills development seminars, meetings with interesting guests, volunteer works in the community, diverse exercises fostering cross-cultural tolerance and understanding, and many different sports activities. Here are just a few of the camp themes: definition of culture and its key ingredients, participatory development and management of community, effective management of resources, social media and its tools, social networks, their role and their successful applications for the implementation of different programs, the concept of crowdsourcing, team building, mobilization of existing resources, stereotypes and how to overcome them, links between tolerance and leadership.

One of the most important goals of the camp was to teach the students how to conduct a community needs assessment, how to respond to the derived problems, and how to design an action plan towards the envisaged solutions. The students participated in a few classes during which they learnt how to formulate SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound) goals and how to implement them.

Throughout the last week of the camp, in groups of 3, formed from an Armenian, an American and a Turkish student, they discussed themes of common interest and applied their best efforts to design CAPs (Civic Action Project) which they would later implement in their communities. A big event was organized for all 72 students to deliver their project presentations in the State House of Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. All presentations got recorded by students who used their flips. You can access and watch the presentations in YouTube  .

Currently each of the participants, either individually, or in small teams with their local peers, implements his/her community project with PH's and Ari Movement's technical and content-related support. Simultaneously, they participate in the program online discussions, sharing with their peers the successes and lessons learnt within their projects.

You can read about each day spent in the U.S. in Gevorg Loretsyan's blog  , a participant from Gyumri. The article is divided into a few parts and is entitled Beyond the Ocean.

While in the U.S., the participants met with famous American-Armenian writer Chris Bohjalian who wrote an interesting article about his meeting with the camp participants. You can read this article as well as her reflections about this meeting in Mane Gevorgyan's blog  , a student from Mkhitar Sebastatsi Educational Complex.

You can find the Armenian translation of Chris Bohjalian's article in Gevorg Loretsyan's blog, mentioned above.