Working for Progress and Social Change in Armenia
Any successful endeavor begins with passion and enthusiasm. It’s been already 10 years since I committed myself to working towards shaping my vision of society and advocating for changes locally and globally. My work as an NGO leader, activist, facilitator, civil society representative and simply as a responsible citizen is all about acting for change. Working for these changes is my driving force, accomplishing them is my source of motivation, and positive impact is what makes me happy.
From early on, I was very enthusiastic about bringing people together for different causes and mobilizing friends around ideas. This is how I came up with my first project idea back when I was 14. The idea was to equip our school with necessary media technologies to allow a daily live broadcast radio program to make student voices heard. Though it was not an easy task back in 2004, thanks to local fundraising, student engagement and support of local donors, we have managed to give life to this idea.
The success and big impact of this small project has driven me and my friends to come up with new, large-scale and wide-ranging initiatives. It was exactly when I learnt that I was passionate about mobilizing people for good and bringing positive changes to peoples’ lives.
In 2009, along with like-minded idealists, I founded the NGO, Armenian Progressive Youth (APY), to give a structure and framework to our ideas and actions. Our organization has been working with young people all over Europe for the past 7 years in the areas of Intercultural Dialogue, Civic Education, Non-formal Education, Media Literacy Education, Youth policy development, volunteerism, active citizenship and participation.
We are a non-profit, non-political organization aiming to support, inspire and engage young people from Armenia and all over the world to develop their social leadership skills, to take their civic responsibility seriously, and act as change-makers. Through various projects, initiatives and non-formal education tools, we help young people to succeed, ensuring that they develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and competences to fit to the modern world.
We’ve come a long way from being a student initiative to a professional youth organization. This has been a journey of empowering young people, involving them in youth mobility and educational programs, developing their skills and knowledge, and engaging them in community life. When we founded APY, it was a challenging period in Armenia; few youth organizations existed, the authorities were rather hostile towards independent NGOs, and few youngsters benefited from local and international educational activities, training and study trips abroad. These sort of opportunities were carefully withheld by ‘non-transparent’ youth organizations and corrupted student councils. Only limited number of ‘chosen’ people could profit. This is was what we aimed to change.
Today, our organization has 200 local and international volunteers, thousands of members, and around 12,000 online followers and supporters. In 2014 and 2015, around 2,000 young Armenians benefited from our mobility projects. Overall, we have reached 15.000 beneficiaries in Armenia and abroad.
At the heart of our efforts is boosting the potential of young people by empowering, engaging and inspiring them to succeed as citizens, entrepreneurs and change-makers. We do it by building capacities, helping youth to acquire new knowledge and skills, providing mobility opportunities and engaging them in volunteering programs.
In our organization, we believe that progressive, educated, skillful, and open-minded young people possess the power to be actors of change in Armenia and beyond. Youth are not the future but the present! We envision a society where young people achieve their full potential and become contributing citizens, to participate in decision making processes, and shape a democratic society. We envision an Armenia where young people have enthusiasm, progressive values and the will to make social and political changes in their communities.