Armenia? Where’s that? Oh, by Turkey? Well sure, that sounds like something new, different and fun! These were my first thoughts two years ago as I was asked to participate in an international conference for YMCA Europe.
I didn’t know much about the place, the people, or the project. Now, I find myself returning for another year, another conference, and teaching other young people about how to get to Republic Square, or count to ten in Armenian (give or take a pronunciation!), and about what “do no harm” means in the greater context.
Returning home, I am still in awe by the sight of seeing so many people from different cultures and countries coming together in one room, and instantly becoming best friends.
It doesn’t matter that we don’t speak the same verbal language, we have so much else in common. We love our jobs and help people grow in mind, body and spirit.
I’ve met Danes who have taught me about Grandma’s pie in relation to the importance of encouraging someone to change for the better, and a Britain who believes so strongly in the betterment of humanity and equality of opportunities that her passion makes me want to get up and act! An Irishman inspired peace-making in all parts of my life, while Armenians have shared their stories and passion for their country.
I’ve met so many great people and learned so much more about the world through these travels and conferences. I have incorporated many of these teachings into staff trainings back at my own YMCA. I really have caught the vision and tell everyone at home about my experiences!
Amanda Kelley (Frost Valley YMCA, USA)