Held in Cadaval district of Portugal, “Wikicamp 2016” enabled young people to write Wikipedia articles in Western Armenian and to express themselves. Sevan Değirmenciyan writes his experience in the camp.
2016” was held in Cadaval district of Portugal between August 18
and 25. Organized under the auspices of Portugal-based Calouste
Gulbenkian Foundation, the camp hosted almost 50 people, mostly
university students, from different European countries. Between
August 27 and 29, the International Wikipedia Conference was held in
Dilijan International School. Newly assigned director of Wikimedia
Foundation Chatrine Mayor was also there.
The participants from Istanbul, Athens, Beirut, Yerevan, Paris, Lyon and Marseilles learned to write Wikipedia articles and put them on the related Wikipedia page. This study made considerable contributions to young people in terms of writing and expressing themselves in Western Armenian. I talked to Wikimedia Armenia Director Susanna Mikirtchian about this camp.
Susanna Mikirtchian told that Wikimedia Armenian was founded in 2013 and Armenian's (Eastern) rank in Wikipedia was 73 back then. Making a presentation in International Wikipedia Conference held in Israel, Mikirtchian organized workshops and courses after she returned to Armenia as the coordinator in order to accelerate Wikipedia works: “After a while, we applied for organizing a conference in Armenia. 200 people attended the meeting that was held in Armenia Hotel in Yerevan. CEO and other executives of Wikimedia were also there.” After this successful meeting, Armenia was authorized to found its own Wikimedia organization. Mikirtchian pointed out that this is very important, for it had been 4 years since a country was given this right before Armenia. Then, Belgium also achieved this. After 2013, when Wikimedia Armenia was officially established, articles about Armenia and Armenian have been increased.
Collaboration with schools
After a while, Wikimedia Armenia started to collaborate with schools. “Ayp” school in Yerevan is the first one to join the project. “Statistics showed that the students are enthusiastic. So, we started to think about what we can do in order to encourage them even more.” This collaboration sparked the idea of organizing a camp for young people. After that, two camp terms (one in winter, one in summer) were realized under the auspices of Wikimedia. Mikirtchian summed up the first term as the following: “The outcome was remarkable. The participants weren't just writing articles, but also spending their days in a entertaining and beneficial way by playing basketball, football and attending various sports and cultural activities.”
In order to popularize Wikipedia, clubs had been founded in different districts of Armenia. The first club was founded in Gyumri. Mikirtchian also talked about the contributions of benefactors, who donated laptops and providing internet connection to the participants in the distant villages. In time, the project reached to frontier villages and even to Karabakh. Mikirtchian wants to make this a national-scale project.
Thanks to all these efforts, Armenian's rank is 38 now. And the quality of the articles improves day by day.
The campaign is becoming more popular
Talking about future projects, Susanna Mikirtchian said that they will start a campaign named “Wiki lives science” in order to include older people, experts and scholars to their Wikipedia project. Writers of Armenian Wikipedia are mostly young people and children. Mikirtchian noted that providing science education to young people is also important.
Mikirtchian said that Western Armenian will have a private section as a distinct language in Wikipedia. The number of the articles written in this language will help to get this status. Intellectuals producing in Western Armenian also made an application to Wikipedia.
With the initiation of Syrian Armenian children
Wikimedia Armenia Western Armenian Coordinator Azniv Stephanian is a teacher who had to start to live in Yerevan after the war in Syria. He managed the camp in Portugal.
Stephanian said that the first event of Wikipedia in Western Armenian project was a camp in Armenia, which Syrian Armenian children attended. “After a couple of months, in 2015, we started to work for organizing a yearly event under the auspices of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.” Stephanian also said that there are Western Armenian Wikicamps in Armenia and diaspora for teachers, journalists and students.
According to Stephanian, there are almost 4300 Wikipedia articles in Western Armenian.
Araz Ayvazian (Syria/Armenia)- I thought that we will have to work really hard and I was afraid that I might not deal with it. However, everything went well; directors clearly and nicely explained how we should work. I feel that my skills in Armenian improved thanks to this project.
Nane Antreasian (France)- It was a very nice experience. I realized that my vocabulary is improved, because translation was a hard work and I had to look the words up. My grammar also improved.
Kevork Lazarian (Greece)- I loved Wikicamp. My purpose was to improve my skills in Armenian. I made effort to achieve this. In a week, my language skills got better. I want to come to the camp again.
Arat Yıldırım (Turkey)- Thanks to this camp, my language skills improved. I also made friends. I will continue to work in Istanbul.
Asar Basmacıyan (Lebanon)- This was the 4th camp I attended and it was the best. We met young people from diaspora. We helped each other and wrote Wikipedia articles. Our purpose is to improve Wikipedia in Western Armenian and make it known worldwide.