By Sophie Tovmasyan
Real and Imaginary “Distances” of Rural Communities
Beyond the immense windows of the school, there were interested and examining looks of students and I could feel how excited they were."

This was the first thought of Florian Wick from Austria when he was speaking about his visit to Aygehovit village secondary school of Tavush province.

He and his friends were happy to have an opportunity to be in one of the schools in Armenian village because they could make comparisons all along the way and find out for themselves that thousands of miles away from Austria, in some village, even in the small and uncomfortable classrooms there are young people just like them having a great desire to learn and despite their lack of opportunities they are not afraid to express their thoughts and make their dreams come true.

Moreover, realizing the exigencies of our digital era and the importance of media literacy, many of them had a big motivation to develop their media literacy skills also using them to enlighten community issues and monitoring the solution processes.

This study visit was organized in the framework of Erasmus+ Youth Exchange “Be updated Not Misled” hosted by UniGrowth Development Center NGO which took place between 06.07-14.07.2018.

The cofounders Tamara Aydinyan and Laura Poghosyan mentioned that as far as the project was targeted at media literacy development in rural areas this study visit was organized from two perspectives: first of all to get acknowledged with the situation on media literacy in local communities (current issues and also projects supporting the increment of literacy level) as well as it was an opportunity for the participants of the youth exchange to bring their contribution to this community youngsters on the above mentioned topic by sharing their knowledge and experience. 

Any contribution is aimed at changes, and it should start from the environment.

According to Keso Chumburidze a participant from Georgia she was not surprised with what she saw in the school as there are similar problems in Georgia, but she is convinced that changing the environment will change people and their way of thinking "I appreciate those people who do not want to go to Yerevan as majority, but rather prefer to stay and do something useful for their local communities." When sharing her impressions Marlene Wick from Austria also said being surprised to see that many youngsters after receiving education in a capital city have returned to their villages even though the living conditions and working opportunities are not the best.

"I had a feeling that we were divided into two separate groups, on one side there were us, participants from different countries, and on the other side- students of the school. It seemed there was nothing to connect us and the reason was the distance in the deepest sense of the word, "said Jane Hammer. 

Many had such a feeling, but there were also few participants who found common interests and hobbies alongside the differences.

And these similarities are the ones to break the chain of obstacles called "cultural distance" and open horizons for cooperation and implementation of new ideas. Distances are to overcome in the form of kilometers as well as in the form of thoughts.

We remind that 36 young people from 6 countries, Armenia, Georgia, Austria, Romania, Ukraine and Estonia participated in the program.