TUMO Stepanakert Celebrates First Birthday

Robotics workshop with Josep Fargas of Barcelona
TUMO Stepanakert celebrates their first birthday on September 2, 2016

TUMO Stepanakert celebrates their first birthday on September 2, 2016

STEPANAKERT—When you step into the TUMO center in Stepanakert, you find yourself in an environment of dualities. The earthiness of the masonry walls contrasts with the latest technology, while the unique sounds of the Artsakh dialect are offset by the universal languages like JavaScript and Python. Since it opened a year ago through the TUMOxAGBU partnership, over 1,000 teens from the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic have passed through the center’s doors, headed towards a hopeful future.

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Programming workshop in Stepanakert

The first year in the life of the newest TUMO was a busy one. There were 22 workshops ranging from animation to programming, where teens gained fundamental skills in TUMO’s focus areas.

In the seven learning labs led by industry professionals, students captured the life around them with photographer Pier Paolo Cito from Italy; programmed their own robots with Josep Fargas from Barcelona; designed a website containing some NKR must-knows with Yerevan-based Zoom Graphics web specialists Samvel Chobanyan and Monte Hakobjanyan; documented their ceaselessly inspiring environment with photographer Scout Tufankjian from the US; experimented with lyrics, genres and Armenian folk music with Collectif Medz Bazar’s Sevana Tchakerian of France; distilled all the fun and interesting details of Artsakh into infographics with graphic designer Sedrak Mkrtchyan and explored the limits of digital media storytelling with Esquire Russia’s Grigor Atanesyan and Blueprint’s Gina Onegina.

Armenian folk music workshop with Collectif Medz Bazar's Sevana Tchakerian

Armenian folk music workshop with Collectif Medz Bazar’s Sevana Tchakerian

Those TUMO labs also hosted three Luys scholars conducting their research and teaching students. This last year was also rich with individual stories like that of Sargis, a TUMO student who rides a bus three hours each way from Haterq to get to TUMO; Mariam, the 14-year-old robotics wunderkind, Samvel the breakout photography star and many more.

The center remained open during the military flare-up in April and was even transformed into a resource center for journalists. Throughout the turmoil, students remained focused on their future and their education inside the walls of TUMO; they had deadlines to meet, after all.

Photography workshop with Scout Tufankjian

Photography workshop with Scout Tufankjian

TUMO CEO Marie Lou Papazian finds it hard to contain her excitement over TUMO Stepanakert’s first birthday. I’ve been asked, given the current circumstances, is this the right time to launch TUMO in Stepanakert? My answer is: now is the best time ever! These teens need every opportunity to experience normal daily lives, with great aspirations toward their own future and that of their homeland. Artsakh does not begin or end with the latest geopolitical developments. We believe it has a great future and we don’t want to miss the opportunity to be part of it.TUMO Stepanakert manager Korioun Khatchadourian echoes her sentiment: Reaching this milestone inspires so much hope. I’m proud of our team and our students, and I’m very much looking forward to the new academic year.”

Robotics workshop with Josep Fargas of Barcelona

Robotics workshop with Josep Fargas of Barcelona

AGBU Armenia President and Central Board Member Vasken Yacoubian was equally excited. “We are proud to be part of this success. Today, when innovation and advanced technologies play a central role in Armenia’s sustainable development, our top priority is to invest in creative thinking and inspire talented young people to enter innovation-related occupations. He said, “AGBU’s continuous support to TUMOxAGBU centers in Gyumri and Stepanakert affirms our commitment to providing innovative education, tools and resources for youth, thus increasing Armenia’s national innovation capacity.

The birthday will be celebrated, fittingly, on September 2nd Artsakh’s Independence Day, with a large, open-air festival in the center of Stepanakert. The event will have music and games, and will feature the work of TUMO’s Stepanakert students. It will be free and open to the public.

With only one year passed and having done so much already, it’s exciting to imagine what is to come for this special center brimming with possibilities.

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