Saturday, May 19

Hurra for 17. Mai i Yerevan!!

17th of May in Yerevan was filled with Norwegian flags, a parade around the Cascades while singing the Norwegian Anthem, dinner and cakes with happy people from Norway and several other countries, Kransekake and games in the grass with Armenian kids participating. :)

The Norwegian Consul Tim Straight had a couple of speeches saying that during the 7 years he has been in Armenia, a lot of positive changes have happened, and he mentioned the Norwegian cooperation with Armenia among the reasons for these changes.

This was the biggest gathering of Norwegians that have ever happened in Armenia on the 17th of May (our Constitution Day); some 30 Norwegians participated (half of them guests/tourists) and it was very nice to share this day with people from Armenia and several other countries.

We walked in the first 17th of May Parade in Yerevan ever! Singing "Ja, vi elsker", "Norge i Roedt, Hvitt og Blaatt", "Vi ere en Nasjon vi med" and "Alle fugler smaa de er". :)

The "Bag Run" and the "Potatoe Run" was a sucess among the Armenian kids, and a lot of people gathered around this event.

(Jepp, I cheated... Sorry Fred! :))

My study friends Anne, Astrid and Guri came the night before and participated in the celebration, great! We walked the Cascade steps (500) to see the view of Yerevan in the evening, from where we can see the Ararat mountains in Turkey. At the bottom of the steps, we met Douglas from the US. He has been in Oslo, and brought his Dale sweat shirt. :) (Looks like a pic from a the Norewgian Magazine S&H...)

In the evening, Tim invited everybody to his place, with Kransekake from Norway!! Maladetz!

Beads for Needs in Yerevan shops!

Beads for needs is expanding their sale in yet another shop in Yerevan.

During the winter, we started to cooperate with Tulip shop, owned by the Norwegian Consul Tim Straight (the tall man to the left). They have bought the goods they liked the most, and added 50 pst for their sale in the shop.

During February and March our jewellery sold for almost AMD 50 000 (some 140 US Dollars).

We will continue to sell our items from the Red Cross office, and in addition to the sale in Tulip shop, we have recently started to cooperate with a shop next door: Capriccio.

Tuesday, May 15

The Day After...

It's 13th of May, the day after the parliamentary elections and Eurovision song contest. It’s the day of Gossiping! :)
Some friends and friends of friends and I are having a small gathering close to the Opera square in the afternoon. Two of the girls are almost sleeping, they were observing the elections and counting votes until almost 5 am. One of the girls, Anoush, says that the elections that she was observing went quietly and normal without any problems.
(Our friends Emma and Lia voted, and we waited for them outside the school.)
But Tamar is upset about the whole elections, e.g. because of the briberies she has heard about lately. She is telling us that the ones who voted for “Hanrapetakan”, the Republican party, could get AMD 15 000 (42 USD). This party was in power before the elections, and they also won these elections with a large margin.
From the restaurant, we could hear angry voices from the Freedom square near the Opera. The opposition parties and a lot of voters had showed up to show their anger against the elections and the Republican party.

In the country side, we have heard that people got food; flour etc for voting for certain parties. We have also heard that some parties “stole” votes and names if people did not show up, and that blank votes where filled in as a vote for a party…

Nevertheless, several observers say these elections were more free and fair than the previous ones. But that the road is long before they really can be called free and fair…

PS: Armenia became number 8 in the Euro vision song contest, congrats! The group also discussed the fact that Turkey gave Armenia 12 points. It is interesting since the two countries are “enemies”. So despite the fact that the group was upset about the elections, everybody was happy with the Eurovision Song contest!
PS: Kari (Kaja's mother), I hope you are happy with the nice girls and the tulips!

Congratulations, Red Cross!

The International Red Cross Day in Armenia was celebrated with dancing mice, a beautiful Cinderella, a big cake and a bead exhibition/sale.

On 8th of May, Red Cross is celebrating all over the world, marking the founding of the humanitarian organization. In Yerevan, the Red Cross family (Armenian Red Cross Society, IFRC and ICRC) gathered in the hall of the RC Head Quarter with a lot of active and cute kids.
The Smiley Club children showed us a very charming and nice theatre play: Cinderella. Kaja and the volunteers have been working on the play for 3 months, and had made the costumes themselves. Aprek!
The Beads for Needs group presented their jewelry, and we sold items for AMD 20 000. (Almost 60 USD). And the next day some girls from the account department dropped by the youth department to buy a birthday gift for their friend, and bought items for AMD 4 000. Aprenk!
However, this day was foremost a day for the children from the dormitory, and they enjoyed eating a lot of cake! Look at those charming girls!

Sunday, May 13

The Great Beads for Needs Girls! :)

"My" adorable girls and I have been making a lot of jewelleries lately, especially for our exhibition and sale on the International Red Cross Day, 8th of May.

The Beads for Needs group has been excisting for more than half a year, and I am impressed by all the nice items the group has made.

Take a look at this cute necklace with brown pearls, for example!

Just a small amount of the money we have raised has been spent on the Smiley Club children; most of it has been spent on further investmens, and savings. But we plan to spend a large amount on Childrens Day, 1th of June so that the kids can have a lot of fun that day. (Picknic, cinema, amusement park etc...)
The hard core girls in the group are Metax, Gayanne, Nelly, Greta and me with a lot of help from Lia (staff, financial issues). The volunteers are all eager to continue with the fund raising-project after I have left, and that makes me very happy. :)

Most of the time we have had a lot of fun, and it is a good feeling to be creative together while supporting a good cause at the same time.

Monday, May 7

English Debates with the Red Cross

1. It is easier to be a girl than a boy in Armenia
2. Girls should not work after marriage
3. It is wrong to have sex before marriage
4. Teenagers should not be given condoms

This statements have been the root of several interesting debates at the Red Cross Head Quarter in Yerevan. Since February, we have had English Debates for youth, mostly RC volunteers have showed up, but also some from "outside" the Red Cross Familiy.
I have had some of my most interesting moments during these debates, and in addition to the discussions and stories followed by, I really believe that we have improved the English level among the Armenian participants.
The debates are easy to arrange, does not cost any money and is very interesting! Can be held in all languages, of course! :)

Other suggestions for debates:

5. Armenia is a modern country
6. Boys should have the choice to say NO to the army
8. It is OK to use torture if it can lead to information that saves lives
11. It is wise to have several boy/girlfriends before getting married
12. Sometimes war is the best solution when people disagree
13. Armenian Diaspora visiting Armenia is a positive breath for the country
14. Hiv-positive persons should tell their classmates, friends and colleagues about their illness
15. The future is bright for young Armenians

Armenian Youth Issues in English

Denne saken med flere finnes på norsk på Røde Kors Ungdom sine nettsider (klikk Dem inn på "Internasjonal ungdomsutveksling"):
Armenian Red Cross Youth have recently initiated English debates for youth in Yerevan. The aim is to improve their English skills, and to share opinions about love, relationships, work and war.

The debates are held at the Red Cross Headquarter every Thursday, and it is open for all young volunteers and other youngsters who know some English. The knowledge of English is generally very poor in Armenia, although the pupils learn English for 6-7 years in school.

At each debate, the participants can choose from some 10 statements, and then take a stand at one of the three corners on the floor: “Agree”, “Disagree” or “It depends”. They will all have the chance to give a speech for 2-3 minutes, and then everybody can share comments and ask questions to each other. After the debate, we sum up the opinions and correct some of the language mistakes.

During the first debates, we discussed whether women should work after marriage, and if it is wrong or not to have sex before marriage. In Armenia, it is expected that girls are virgins before they are married, while boys should have sexual experience.
Sargis Bashikyan (18), the only boy participating in this debate, argued that girls should wait until marriage because of the Armenian tradition called “The Red Apple”. According to the tradition, the parents of the groom visit the couple after their wedding night to see if there is blood on the bed sheets, and then they bring a red apple to the parents of the bride as a symbol of loss of virginity.

- Girls should not have sex before marriage, because they should save their body for the man they marry, says Metaqsya Yeghiazaryan (20).

She thinks that Armenian girls are more respected if they are virgins before they marry.

But Nelly Movsesyan (20) did not agree with Sargis and Mataqsya, and argued that boys and girls should decide themselves when they wanted to have sex.
- I think it would be good if the Armenian traditions could change a bit. It is better if girls also can have sex before marriage, especially if they are more than 25 years old before they marry. It is not healthy for their body if they do not have sexual relation before this age, Nelly thinks.

She also adds that the best case is if the sexual relation is with a person you love and later want to marry.