“Only in peace can we build strong relationships,” stated Maria Vardanyan, a 25-year-old from Armenia who has been a motivated leader for the YMCA since 2002. In 2007, Vardanyan became an active part of the Roots for Reconciliation project where she was able to meet and form friendships with youth from all over the world. Through aiding with aspects that involved training, running seminars and camps, and programming for festivals, she had an enlightening experience working as a part of this project.
Established in 2007, the Roots for Reconciliation program promotes democracy building and peaceful conflict transformation in the South Caucasus region. Through activities such as camping and group workshops the goal of this project is to unite and empower the youth of that region, transforming feelings of malevolence into acceptance and forgiveness.
“I became wiser, stronger, more tolerant and began to understand the world better,” said Vardanyan about what she gained from her experience. She also spoke passionately about the strong friendships that she formed which allowed her to be more relatable to children and young adults from many different backgrounds.
Further reflecting on her experience, Vardanyan stated that she was thankful for “the chance to… understand other points of view about life.” Amidst the open-minded, peaceful environment that Roots for Reconciliation facilitates, she was able to create a foundation upon which strong friendships and lifelong memories could be built. The lessons and revelations that Vardanyan had about the importance of peace within international relationships while working as a part of this project were indispensable.
To read more about the Roots for Reconciliation Program, please follow this link : http://www.ymcaeurope.com/data/files/rfr-summary-web-47.pdf
By Carolyn Olsen, USA