WATERTOWN—Can two teenagers living 7,000 miles away from each other create a solution to one of the world’s environmental problems? American-born Armen never dreamed he would find what he discovers in Armenia, and he counts on his cousin Nuneh living in a small village to carry out his far-fetched plan.
This is the premise of Armenia Tree Project’s new film, “Something New,” which was produced as part of the Building Bridges education program. This is the fourth year of ATP’s innovative program to introduce its environmental education material in Armenian schools across North America. “Building Bridges: Connecting Diaspora Armenian Students with Their Environmental Heritage” is funded by a grant from the Thomas A. Kooyumjian Family Foundation.
“The making of ‘Something New’ was a collaborative effort that involved people from all over the world. We hope that because it was filmed in both the US and in Armenia, students will have a more profound understanding about the state of the environment in Armenia,” says Sarah Hayes, Building Bridges manager and executive producer of the film.
“Something New” was directed by Kennedy Wheatley, assistant film professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Tanner Boyajian served as cinematographer and his brother Hunter Boyajian acted as sound editor. It will be screened at Armenian schools in North America and internationally.
Armen is played by AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian student Peter Deirbadrossian, and his onscreen cousin, Nuneh, is played by Tatevik Ghumashyan from Margahovit’s Secondary School in Margahovit, Armenia.
In addition to the film, ATP has published a series of colorful newsletters for schoolchildren ages 8-12 and has distributed thousands of copies to schools throughout the US. The new fourth edition of the newsletter is a collaboration among project manager Sarah Hayes, environmental education consultant Nayiri Haroutunian, and award-winning illustrator Alik Arzoumanian.
“The first three editions of the newsletter primarily focused on trees. This edition addresses another issue that you’ve probably noticed if you have visited Armenia,” explains Hayes. “Armenia is known for its beautiful landscapes and natural beauty, but even some of its most popular tourist sites are affected by trash and littering. This newsletter deals with trash and recycling as a way of promoting environmental awareness and stewardship.”
The fourth edition of the Building Bridges newsletter is being distributed to schoolchildren in the US and is available online here.
“ATP’s Building Bridges program fosters the idea that if our youth become more aware of the environment in Armenia, they will feel more connected to their own homeland. By feeling more connected to their heritage, they will understand the similarities and differences of our cultures and thus be more compassionate to make change,” concludes Hayes.
ATP’s mission is to assist the Armenian people in using trees to improve their standard of living and protect the environment, guided by the desire to promote self-sufficiency, aid those with the fewest resources first, and conserve the indigenous ecosystem. ATP’s three major programs are tree planting, environmental education, and sustainable development initiatives. For more information, please visit the website www.armeniatree.org.