(Plamena Sokolova and Silviya Ivanova)
At the end of April a conference was held in Yerevan, Armenia called “Non-formal youth work and formal Youth Studies Conference”. It was part of the “Erasmus+” project “International Youth Studies: Curricula. Distance Learning Course and Open Educational Materials”. The purpose of the conference was to bring together people from different spheres of work, some with experience, others without and to provide them the opportunity to share their impressions of the development of non-formal education and youth work in their countries of origin. There were representatives from various organizations, both state and non-governmental, youth clubs, associations and other from thirteen countries, including Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Turkey, Sweden, Romania, Moldova, Belgium, Poland, Georgia, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. All participants were asked prior to arriving in Armenia to prepare materials to illustrate the evolution of non-formal education and youth work in their countries’ history, especially what changes they have made over the last five years, and what is the direction of development in the present and in the future. Among the issues discussed was the role of the youth worker, the definition of “youth work” – does it differ in the states, what does the society understand by saying “youth work” and is it popular to be a youth worker nowadays. Most participants touched on the priorities of non-governmental organizations and youth clubs, others described the validation of competences as a field of non-formal education, and others told about the professionalization and realization of youth workers and non-formal education specialists. The conclusion drawn from the presentation of the prepared materials by the participants was that, however many cultural differences stand between us, they are not insurmountable and do not affect the development of non-formal education and youth work, as a number of points of contact were subsequently identified. The conference was the beginning of a series of events, including training courses and youth exchanges. The participants will continue their correspondence in order to successfully prepare the upcoming events.