Armenia—It all started with a phone call…
She knew that there were at least 15 local teens who wanted to attend the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies and learn all about robotics, photography, web development, and more. She also knew that these teens lived almost two hours away and did not have the means to access transportation to and from the center.
So she gave her friend, Homeland Development Foundation’s (HDIF) Timothy Straight, a call. The two put their heads together and came up with an idea: to launch an online campaign to raise enough money for the 15 teens to attend TUMO for an entire year.
The teens will be coming to TUMO every Sunday to take part in TUMO activities and forge new paths for themselves within the tech and art worlds. A special workshop has already been organized for the students and they’re well on their way to learning the foundations of graphic design.
Fifteen-year-old Levon Melikyan, one of the Berd teens and newest TUMO-ians, has already seen a change in his future outlook. “I never thought before that I could make a career in graphic design, but after these classes I became more interested and think now that I’ll pursue it in the future,” he says.
Badalian is excited about the new possibilities that are opening for the teens of Berd. “Berd is very far from the capital and an isolated region with one of the longest borders with Azerbaijan. It’s very important to develop the minds of the local teens to prepare them for their future. The students here are always looking for more projects to stimulate and challenge them, so naturally it only made sense to find a way to get them to TUMO,” says Badalian.
TUMO CEO Marie Lou Papazian does not see the students attending as the end of this issue, but only the beginning. “We’re of course very happy that teens from Berd are coming to TUMO, but we also see this as the impetus for us to find a way of getting more teens to the center. This has already got us thinking about the next step,” says Papazian.
But, the final word goes to 13-year-old Sona Palanduzyan. “I had heard so much about TUMO, but when we actually got there it exceeded my expectations. I am so thankful for the effort that went in to getting us here and will work that much harder to make sure those efforts don’t go to waste,” she says.
The fundraising goal was reached in less than a week, but they are forging ahead to collect enough to send even more teens to the center each week. Not only that, but any additional money will help students from distant regions attend one of the four centers including Gyumri and Stepanakert.