Imagine 7 Armenian girls in a place with marvelous beautiful nature, young crazy people, dances, dances, and once again dances till midnight. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Yes, that’s about us in Trofaiach, Austria, participating in the youth exchange program with FIOH. Trofaiach? Have you heard about this town before? Neither had we. Trofaiach is the cutest town we have ever been in. The little colorful cute houses surrounded by breathtaking nature gave us a sense as if we were in a cartoon or a video game.
Ok, now let’s get more into it with some details. Keep on reading. cause you are gonna love it.
“Let’s dance together” was a youth exchange that included 38 young people and group leaders from 6 countries: Austria, Croatia, Spain, Ukraine, Macedonia, and Armenia.
But what has it given to us exactly?
If you want us to answer shortly, we can sum up the experience in one word- mind-blowing. However, a longer response to the question would look something like this:
Established a forum for young people from other cultures to exchange ideas, viewpoints, and opinions. Helped us learn about cultural diversity and different approaches to evaluating culture through traditions and dance
Encouraged us to practice intercultural dialogue and understand intercultural relations United young people through research and learning about diversity and similarities
Gave young people space for dialogue with people from different cultural backgrounds. And, of course, our favorite part was learning how to say funny phrases in each language.
All 7 of us agree that this program was absolutely a life-changing experience. One of the girls, Arpi, mentioned “I felt like a citizen of the world, welcomed into a social and cultural context that was completely new to me and different from mine.” We fell in love with Trofaiach, the people around us, and every little aspect of this new life we discovered daily. We learned the value and importance of friendship, solidarity, and mutual support.
Well, now more details about the project itself. So every day differed from one another with the exciting activities and parties. We had dance competitions, for which we broke up into different teams of dancing: break dance, folk, hip hop, and afro dances. We had three days to prepare for the competition and show what each group learned. A peculiar politics that we established was at breakfast time; we would teach our intercultural friends Armenian long words and challenge them to repeat those. A funny example was when we were teaching the word “Արևաճաճանչափայլատակություն,” (meaning sunshine) to the Spanish group representatives and from the second time listening to the word, one of the Spanish participants could pronounce the word correctly. Another part of the project was the “intercultural night.” Intercultural night is the part of the day when every country presents a tradition or a popular event in their country and presents the cousin specific to that country. Our team decided to show what an ancient Armenian wedding looked like. We were lucky enough to have Mery in our group, who was knowledgeable about our old Armenian wedding traditions. So we dug deep into the history and could bring the ancient rituals to life. At the wedding, we presented the most important rituals and shortly portrayed all the crucial aspects, such as the ritual of sifting flour, choosing the bridesmaid, throwing the bouquet, and some other nice details that exist and used to exist in our traditional weddings. Apart from that, we didn’t forget about the audience and tried to engage them as much as possible by asking them to stand up to catch the bouquet. A funny aspect of the performance was that we didn’t have any male representatives from Armenia, so two of the girls had to dress up as a man, draw a mustache on their face and transform into male. Our “male” girls were Ellen as the groom and Lala as the godfather. Inessa was the humble bride, Mery- the mother in law, Lena- the bridesmaid, and Ioanna- the aunt. Thus, we could combine having fun with educating the public about our ceremonies.
After reading all this, you shouldn’t hesitate a second but apply to the projects offered by FIOH. We would like to thank our dearest FIOH for filling our lives with so many unforgettable memories and wonderful friends. Thank you for your continuous hard work and contribution. Organizations like yours actually deserve all our very applause—thankfulness for your amazing work. We love you🤍