During the last week of October, together with three other great Bulgarian girls, I took part in an Erasmus+ training course on the topic of interreligious dialogue. The project with the title “Face 2 Faith” was coordinated by the organization Copernicus Berlin e.V. and it took place in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.
After one day long travels starting from my hometown Plovdiv I reached Yerevan in the middle of the night. Even though I was tired and half asleep, from the moment I stepped out of the plane my curiosity about what is forthcoming was alert. I arrived a day before the rest of the group, which gave me time to walk around and immerse in the city’s atmosphere.
The actual programme started on the 25th with plenty of time and activities that allowed us to get to know each other and develop group dynamics. A definite advantage of the schedule was the balance of activities that took place outside of the training room. On the second day of training we had a trip to the monastery Khor Virap, which is one of the oldest and most sacred places for the Armenian Apostolic Church. In my opinion, due to its stunning location in the Ararat plain and specific architecture it is an alluring place to visit even for those who are not among the most devoted believers.
The two other official visits that we had were for me personally the highlights of the programme. We had a meeting with Naira Zohrabyan who is Chairwoman of the commission for Human Rights in the National Assembly of Armenia. She gave us a brief summary on the proportions of different religious and ethnic groups that are part of the Armenian society and how they come to exist alongside each other.
Later in the week we had another appointment, this time in the Etchmiadzin, the holy center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. There we had a tour in the museum and afterwards we met the Archbishop Nathan Hovhanissyan, who spoke about tolerance and mutual understanding from the viewpoint of the church as an institution. On the way back we had an impromptu arrangement to have a walk around the colorful Machanents House, which is the residence of “Cross of Armenian Unity” – an NGO that supports children from vulnerable backgrounds.
Although my initial expectations for this project were different, this was undoubtedly a thought provoking experience. Armenia is an amazing country and to have the opportunity to discover its fascinating history first hand was a privilege. I am grateful that thanks to Alternativi International I was part of the amazing team that represented Bulgaria.