LA BOURBOULE, France—Wikimedia and Calouste Gulbenkian hosted the Third International Wiki Camp for Western Armenian from August 12 to 20. During those days, around 44 participants from Armenia, Lebanon, Istanbul, France, Greece, and United States had an opportunity to write and edit articles for the Armenian Wikipedia.
The Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation began supporting Wikimedia Armenia in 2015 to encourage young authors to populate the website with Western Armenian articles. Western Armenian which has was placed in the Atlas of World’s Languages in danger in 2010 by UNESCO. Through the Wiki Camps and the dedicated volunteers, Western Armenian articles have increased since the start of the project. In 2015, there were 650 Wikipedia articles and in the beginning of 2017, the article count was 5,565.
During the 1-week program, the 16-25 year old participants were trained on how to edit article, write new ones with all of its components, and participated in several activities throughout the day that encouraged the teenagers to write, talk, and read in Armenian in a casual, fun, and a dynamic environment.
Verginie Touloumian, the representative from the United States of America had an opportunity to edit the pages of Simon Vratsian, and the Armenian Youth Federation, and write new articles about the Vorsgan Group, Bedo, Vahan Navasartian, and the Battle of Mush’s St. Arakel Cathedral.
“It was inspiring to see that teenagers dedicate several hours a week to populate the website with different information” said Touloumian.
“Through, the program we are combatting the extinction of the language and encouraging the upward mobility that would expand the array of research topics that are available for people searching in Western Armenian,” added Touloumian.
Aside from the core objectives of encourage participants to use Western Armenian as an everyday means of expression, the participants also developed new friendships across the world and learned about the challenges and lifestyle of Armenians in the different Diaspora regions.
While the core objective of the Wiki Camp was to encourage participants to write in Western Armenian and use the language as an everyday means of expression, it also aimed to foster an exciting environment in which new friendships across the world were built. As participants departed they received Certificates of Completions and vowed to continue adding to the archives of the popular website.