BY TALAR BEHESNILIAN
Today we successfully ended the jampar in Artik, located in the Shirak province of Armenia. The day started off like any other. We arrived at the school and were greeted by many of the kids at the door. It’s always exciting to see how happy these kids are to see us each morning, always with smiles on their faces, ultimately proving the lasting impact we are leaving in their lives. The girls from the blue team expressed how ready they were for the song competition, excited and hoping they will win. After singing Mer Hayrenik and completing our morning exercises, which ended with the chicken dance and the kids laughing and cheering, we headed to the classrooms.
My class consisted of the older kids of the blue team. Unger Hratch led a brief discussion on Artsakh, its history, and its present day situation. It was interesting to hear the kids’ perspectives and knowledge about the topic. The day ended with the final song competition. Watching the campers sing the songs we had been teaching them and practicing all week made me very proud. Each camper did their best hoping to lead their team to victory. They tried their best also because they were performing in front of their family and loved ones. After all the teams performed, the winner was announced and the explosive cheers erupted from the crowd. The blue team had won, and the excitement in each of their faces as they celebrated validated the reasons why each of us are here, and highlighted the joy we’re bringing to these kids’ lives.
I think what hit me the most was the feeling of appreciation that our presence and work there garnered. It was expressed not only by the children, but also by parents and ARF members. During the goodbyes, I was approached by many campers, some from my team and some from others, each asking to take pictures to remember us by. I received countless hugs and some even gave me bracelets they had made during the week. Ultimately, they expressed how much they enjoyed the week, and were sad to see us go. This week flew by. Five days wasn’t enough with these kids, but I believe that even in the short period we were here, the impact was just as great. I will always remember these kids and the wonderful memories we shared in this amazing week in Artik.