PH International

Youth LAB Brings Together Armenian, Turkish and American Teens for Civic Action

USA | Youth LAB - Leadership Across Borders | 16 Jan 2012

High school students from Armenia, Turkey and across New England have successfully completed a one-year initiative exploring topics that include leadership, social entrepreneurship and cross-cultural dialogue. These 72 young leaders were part of Youth LAB, a program funded by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara and implemented by PH International of Waitsfield, Vermont. Students began the program with an intensive online component of facilitated conversations about civic engagement and leadership. The formal online sessions were strengthened by the use of Facebook and Skype to develop friendships among the group. As one American participant noted, “Just by talking online to teenagers from other countries, I realized that a lot of beliefs people have about other cultures are really warped and not true. Youth LAB is important because it gives teens the chance to learn about and appreciate different cultures.” Among a number of program goals, Youth LAB encouraged positive dialogue between citizens on both sides of a closed border between Turkey and Armenia. The program represented a growing openness for younger generations to come together to find solutions to problems that impact the global community. In July 2011, after six months of online conversations, all 72 students travelled to Waitsfield, Vermont, for a rigorous two-week leadership camp, hosted at Sugarbush Resort, followed by a homestay experience. Following the camp, students went back to their home communities to implement civic action projects that were developed collaboratively during the summer program. Four months later, the American students travelled to Turkey, the Republic of Georgia and Armenia for cultural immersion with their Youth LAB peers in each country. In a real once-in-a-lifetime experience for many Turkish participants, Turkish students also had the opportunity to join the Americans and Armenians in Yerevan for five days as the culmination of the program. To honor the work of the students and the incredible courage it took for the Armenians and Turks to be part of the program, the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Ambassador John Heffern, spoke to students, staff and families to congratulate them for their accomplishments in Youth LAB. PH International is a Vermont-based international nongovernmental organization. With more than 25 years of experience, PH works from offices across Eurasia to advance societies and connect people through education, technology, and cross-cultural engagement. For more information about PH International, contact us.