YMCA: Where bridges are built between cultures

Date: 20 March 2024

By Geraldine Maier, YMCA-YWCA Switzerland

With my mobile phone in hand, I recently navigated the streets of Zurich to the YMCA Centre named “Glockenhaus”.

On this day, I am following Patricia’s invitation, which I received a few weeks earlier at our first Change Agent meeting. Her remark about an event with an Armenian exchange made me curious. What exactly is this event about? Today, I will find out.

I recognise the flag with the YMCA (Cevi) logo from afar and a few steps further on, I look through a large shop window into a room filled with people. Am I at the right place? I wasn’t expecting so many people. I join the colourful group and try dried fruits and an almond biscuit from the extensive buffet. Half an hour later, the visitors sit down at two large rows of tables and eagerly await the stories from Armenia.

Alvardt Mrktchyan, the director of YMCA Spitak, speaks in her mother tongue about the YMCA community centre, the events and activities that take place there, and the visions for the future. Her companion Lucine translates what she says into English and gives us an exciting insight into the local commitment of the YMCA Spitak and the cooperation with YMCA (Cevi) Zurich.

Armenian specialities are served after the stories. Among other things, we get to try tolma, stuffed vine leaves, and ghapana, a stuffed pumpkin dish. This is accompanied by a cucumber and tomato salad and the Armenian flatbread lavash.

It is a lively evening during which a special bridge is created between two cultures, an open exchange is encouraged, and new contacts are made.

I really enjoyed this cultural exchange, and I once again experienced how versatile the YMCA is.