BY ALLEN YEKIKIAN
After months of fundraising back home and another week of touring throughout the homeland, we finally began our work at Camp Gyumri on Tuesday, July 20. Located at the center of the city in Gyumri’s 6th school, Camp Gyumri is a four week long summer day camp that’s free and open to the public.
We arrived at camp on Tuesday a half hour early to find a long line of children and parents waiting to check in for the two week experience. All in all, we accepted 85 kids, ten more than the year before. Many of the kids, interestingly enough, attended last year’s camp and had waited all year to come back to Camp Gyumri. The first day was fun and exciting but extremely taxing.
Here are photos from Day 1. Youth Corps participant Kareen Sassounian is going to talk more about our first day in her posting tomorrow so stay tuned for that one.
What happened on The second day, is what I want to focus on. We arrived at camp early again, but this time we were greeted by a reporter and a camera crew from the local television station, who had come to do a feature report on our activities. A very big thank you to Ungers Gevork and Ara from the local ARF for making this happen.
The reporter, Margarita Hovanisyan, and her cameraman went from classroom to classroom interviewing our campers and counselors, and observing our English lesson, arts and crafts activities, and athletic games. That night, during dinner, we heard the television in the background say the word “Jambar” and quickly ran to the living room of our host family’s house to watch the news piece. I quickly recorded it off the TV screen with my cell phone. The next day, I was able to obtain the original report, the video is below.
After being interviewed myself, I asked Margarita if she would share her personal impressions of the camp with me and my camera. She was more than happy to do so; Her thoughts are very telling of a people happy to see their brothers and sisters from the Diaspora working in the homeland and spending time with their children. Check out her video below.
Without a doubt, word of our camp is spreading very quickly throughout town. Not a day goes by in Gyumri that people on the streets don’t ask us about our “Jambar” and wish us the best of luck when we tell them who we are, what we are doing and why we are here. We tell them we are ARF youth from America, here to learn about our homeland and lend a hand to her people.