Saturday, September 27, 2008

Under construction

YEREVAN: Armenia doesn't only have a student movement that is figuring out how to organise itself. It has a biblical mountain which gives name to chicken dishes as well as local cognac; enough churches to satisfy the most devout Armenian Orthodox Christian; and, from a pedestrian's view, uncompromising drivers. “They are considering it a favour to you to if they stop to let you pass, even if you go across the zebra crossing while your light is green”, one of my hosts said.

Yerevan varies between charmingly Armenian (words are hard to find) and unsympathethically Soviet in its design. It is a certainly a good place to spend a long weekend, even if the plot doesn't go exactly as planned. But apart from trouble finding a hotel and entry and exit taxes of 40 and 30 Euro respectively, Armenia was easy to like.

On Thursday last week, Jens and I met Meline and Sven of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We talked a bit and prepared for the meeting with Armenian students. Jens is the European Students' Union expert on this country and was presenting a report on the Armenian student movement. I'd read the report and was hoping to contribute with something as well.

- Why are both of the ESU representatives male?

ESU has just commented (and implyingly critisised) that by far the most of the student council leaders are male, so this is obviously a fair question from one of the approximately 30 students that are present. Particularly when it is posed to an organisation that prides itself on progressive equality policies.

Jens explains that ESU has gender quotas and I add that the organisation's two top positions are inhabited by women. Then we move on to discuss Germany, Norway, Europe and a lot of other situations, and conclude that Armenian students are pretty cool, at least the ones Jens and I met.


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