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Archive for the VITA Program Category

Youth Engagement in Armenia

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A study conducted in every household in Armenia in 2010 looked at real employment rates for different groups of individuals on the basis of various parameters such as socio-economic status, gender, age, level of urbanization, etc.  One of its findings was that the employment rate is the lowest for the youth in Armenia (age group 16-24) at 23.2%.  Although a majority of these youths are engaged in academic activity at this age, upon completing their degrees there has been found to be many challenges for them to find employment. This in turn creates social tension at the community level as well as increased stress and depression at the individual level.

Engaging such youth in volunteering activities not only helps them acquire certain professional skills that are attractive to employers and increase employment rates, but also has positive externalities for peace building and community building. The UN Volunteers have also come up with the benefits of youth engagement:

  • Outcome 1: Increased recognition of the contribution of youth to global peace and sustainable human development through volunteerism, and inclusion of youth voices in the development discourse.
  • Outcome 2: Improved capacity of relevant stakeholders to support an enabling environment for regional, national and community youth volunteering for global peace and sustainable human development.
  • Outcome 3: Increased and diversified opportunities for young people to contribute to global peace and sustainable human development work

Thus given this scenario of the youth employment rates in Armenia, the individual and social benefits of volunteering work, HasNa’s projects such as VITA (Volunteering in Turkey and Armenia) is in sync with our mission statement of promoting peace building and development. The project entailed training activities for youth participants from both countries that can build their capacity to facilitate and promote more volunteerism in the area. Bringing the youth of Armenia and Turkey further allows for conversation and sharing of ideas and opportunities, which can lead to collaborative sustained growth in the region. In the follow up program to the VITA concrete results were seen. 66 young people participated in the follow up projects that were started by member of the initial VITA program by HasNa. Members shared and volunteered a range of their skill as well as sharing experiences from DC to implement in their homes. Be It in the area of IT/ Web design, social media skills, local dance or even healthier ways of cooking, these volunteers are coming together and building ideas and strategy to be resourceful and lay the seeds for future youth volunteers to make this a self-sustained model.

 

This post is written by Rohini Ray, who is currently working as a volunteer for HasNa. Rohini recently graduated from Smith College with a degree in Economics and Physics. She is interested in the middle-east with her independent research looking at the oil and exchange rates in the area.

Serving Others

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“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve…You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

How do we serve?

With these famous words, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shed light on the importance of serving others – no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, and no matter your race, education level, or socioeconomic status. The only thing necessary to serve is to have a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.

It is in this spirit of grace, love, and serving others that the VITA Program has been developed. Since HasNa has from the very beginning worked with promoting constructive dialogue between diverse ethnic groups within Turkey, Armenia, and Cyprus, this program is a natural extension of our mission.

What are our objectives?

We have two main objectives in engaging young people from both Turkey and Armenia in a volunteer-based program.

Firstly, this program will create links between Turkish and Armenian youths to construct cross-cultural networks among their communities. As relations between Turkey and Armenia remain contentious, the political tension impacts individuals on both sides of the border. With this program, which will engage youths in activities where they will be working constructively together, we will bring together individuals from a variety of ethnic, gender, and income backgrounds to gain a better understanding of people coming from different backgrounds and to use these connections to build projects together.

Secondly, we aim to give the students the practical experience necessary to create and develop their own community service projects back at home. What the students learn in their two weeks in DC will give them both the training and the practical, hands-on experience to engage and develop ideas about volunteerism when they return to their home countries. We hope that their ideas will spread as they engage others in their projects back in their own communities.

What’s next?

Keep checking back to see photos and stories from when the participants arrive this Saturday. And leave a comment of encouragement for our participants or any advice you may have on volunteerism, cross-cultural communication and cooperation, and peacebuilding!

The VITA Program – An Introduction

HasNa is back to blogging! We’re excited today to bring you the first of several installments detailing our upcoming VITA Project. VITA, which stands for Volunteer Initiative in Turkey & Armenia, will be bringing together 14 young people from Turkey and Armenia here in DC this weekend. For more information, please check out our official press release below. We will be posting updates, photos, and stories from the wide range of activities that the students will be working on over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out!

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Program on Civic Engagement brings Armenian and Turkish Youth together in Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 9, 2014 – HasNa’s Volunteer Initiative in Turkey & Armenia (VITA) starts on January 18th with the participants’ arrival to Washington, DC. The VITA participants are 14 young people from Turkey and Armenia from various ethnic, gender and educational backgrounds, united by the idea and the desire to act for the benefit of their communities.

Commenting on the program, Nevzer Stacey, HasNa’s president, said: “The main goal of the program is for the participants to gain an understanding of the importance of volunteerism and civic engagement, so they can become active participants in the development of their communities.” She also added: “Through training and activities, we hope to create links between Turkish and Armenian youth and to construct cross-cultural networks among them and their communities.”

Hripsime (Sime) Amirkhanyan, HasNa’s program associate managing VITA, explained that the program is two-fold. “The first phase will last two weeks and will take place in Washington, DC. While in Washington, the participants will be exposed to volunteerism in the United States through training and service learning activities,” Amirkhanyan said. She concluded that the project is unique because it doesn’t stop there. She explained that “during phase two, the participants will embark on implementing a number of community service initiatives in their own communities across Turkey and Armenia. They will engage other youth to participate in various projects and activities that focus on community service, as in assisting their neighbors, fellow community members, and the elderly, as well as helping other organizations throughout their communities.”

The VITA program is the fourth collaborative program that HasNa has implemented with groups from Armenia and Turkey during the past two years.

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