Since its inception in 2012 and with two cohorts (2012-2014, 2014-2019) of participants that passed through it, the Roots Peace Work Institute (PWI) sought to enroll young leaders of different backgrounds from across Europe, young people who were and are a voice and not an echo – eager to learn, to try, to grow… Like raw diamonds to shine after the grind.
And we believe that most of these 46 Alumni managed to develop both personally and professionally as they journeyed through PWI.
Today we share with you the story of Tatul, a 30 years old young actor from Armenia.
Tatul Bostanchyan is a walking energizer himself. This is how anyone from the Roots will describe him. He works at the theatre and at the same time is the director of the Lori (local region) National Entertainment Center․
Among the Rooters Tatul is known for his sense of humour. He joined the Roots in 2007 when he took part in the Shushi camp in Nagorno-Karabakh. Then in 2012 he joined the Peacework Institute and remains strongly committed to YMCA Armenia and the Roots.
Before the program, he had nothing to do with peacebuilding. As he recalls with humour – the only connection was during his childhood, when the children would play and fight each other in the year, he would go and separate them.
In his words, Roots had a great influence on his development as a person:
“The program has affected me a lot. First of all, I have made many life-long friends not only from Armenia but also from countries I have never been to before: Romania, Serbia, Kosovo, Spain, England, Georgia, Russia․․․
Second, my worldview has changed. I have overcome many complexes and barriers in me. I have even met participants from the countries with which we are in conflict. I never imagined that we could sit down and talk peacefully about some issues. In other words, our conflict has remained, but my attitude towards it has changed.
Third, I have become closely acquainted with the conflicts of other countries. For example, I did not have a good idea of the conflicts in Kosovo and Serbia before, or the Georgia-Russia one. Living in our region, sometimes we see the picture only through the eyes of Russia, but communicating with the Georgians, I got acquainted with their words, I saw the situation from both sides.
As a result, I made comparisons with our conflict, of course,” says Tatul.
During the first session of the Peacework Institute, the project leaders always underlined that we are not here to discuss and resolve the conflicts in our countries. That is not our mission. We are here to continue to be human in the context of those conflicts and not to harm each other.
Tatul is a vivid example that in PWI people learn not to see things from a single perspective, but to remember that a coin always has two sides.
“I have many unforgettable moments in frames of the Roots. But I will share one story. Once I was in Prague at the YMCA Europe Festival and it was when the Georgia-Russia war started.
Because our flight back home to Armenia had to fly through Georgian airspace and it was closed due to military activities, we were unable to depart and together with Georgian group were forced to stay in the hostel for a few more days until the situation was resolved.
We stayed in the hostel and spent most of the time together – supporting Georgians during a very difficult period for them. We were with them and I think they felt it,” says Tatul.
The other story that Tatul told is related to his visit to Istanbul. When the participants took to the streets in carnival costumes and made everyone happy with their appearance. And at the end, by the historic YMCA building with Hagia Sofia just across the street – the Armenians and the Turks danced the Qochari dance together․․․
“It was a very emotional moment, and for me, it was a historic occasion. Roots is a family, Roots is my family“ says Tatul.
Since 2007 and ever growing, from the South to the North, from the East to the West of Europe – the Roots has always been there for those striving to make this world a better and safer place, a peaceful home for all. We go where the need is, responding quickly to the emerging issues with the legacy and mandate, capacity and adaptability gained for all these years.
By donating to the Roots, you invest in youth opinion leaders from all corners of Europe – varied by age, ethnicity, religion, race or wealth, but united with one strong conviction – Peace is the only way!