Wikicamp in Armenia through the Eyes of Foreigners
Author: Mari Avetisyan (Wikimedia Armenia)
Social Media channels or hashtags: https://www.wikicamp.org/en.html
Summary: Summer Wikicamp organized by Wikimedia Armenia for children aged 15-19 was unique with its multinational participants who shared their impressions about the 9 days of the Wikicamp.
On 2-11 August 2019 Wikimedia Armenia organized a Summer Wikicamp for children aged 15-19. Wikicamp is one of the innovative projects of Wikimedia Armenia. This camp is a platform that enables self-education, development of different skills. Here participants not only contribute to Wikipedia and other Wiki projects by editing articles, improving or creating them, but also engage in various fun activities, intellectual and sports games.
This year the agenda was full of both educational and entertaining activities. Children not only edited Wikipedia (at the same time competing for the title of the best wikipedian each day) but also competed in different sports and intellectual activities. As Alice, a camper from Italy, said: “The agenda was full but not tiring.”The number of participants was considerable. Most of them were from Wikiclubs all around Armenia. But this Wikicamp was also unique because of its international participants. Three young Georgians with their leader and one Italian took part in the Wikicamp providing national diversity. Such kind of international camp enabled participants to get acquainted with foreign wikipedians of their age. It was a good experience for both sides. Mariam, a Georgian camper, said, “I was very excited to get acquainted with a lot of people. I am happy that Armenians were able to change their ideas about the Georgians. I made a lot of friends, especially inside my group. I hope we will continue our relationship․” On the other hand Akaki, another Georgian camper, added “this Wikicamp is not only about writing/editing but also having fun. It’s just a relationship between countries. This is a nice way to get people closer and make our relationship stronger․” As the camp was international, participants had to speak in different languages and it was not a difficult task as everyone did their best. Another Georgian camper Giga suggested his idea about this issue by saying “It was good that many people knew foreign languages, for example, Russian and English. So I liked communicating with them․” But it was not a one-sided thing as foreign participants also learned and used Armenian words: Giga’s first expression in Armenian was “bari luys” (good morning).
As the camp was dedicated to Wikipedia, the editing process was the most important part of the agenda. Children spent a maximum of 4 hours on writing articles every day. The best thing about editing for Alice was the part that she could choose the subject of an article, “I thought you will tell us what to write about and this is really interesting because everybody can focus on what he cares about”. Mariam thought that editing hours weren’t very long but anyway she was able to work on 30 articles. Akaki added, “If you were into the writing, time would fly away fast․”Summer Wikicamp was also outstanding in terms of cooperation․ We collaborated with the Office of Financial System Mediator and Yerevan Zipline Airlines. After a long discussion Ministry of Defence of RA agreed to collaborate by sending special forces. They demonstrated several acts of self-defense and assault․ It was both educational and entertaining. Mariam said that it was the most enjoyable part for her. The most interesting and funny part of the camp for Giga was the making of group videos. And for Akaki it was theatre, “that is because we worked on it for days, we planned it and played it together․” The most memorable thing for Alice was the atmosphere of the camp and the thing that children aged 14-15 became Wiki editors even before she knew it was possible.
The Wikicamp is a platform of getting knowledge, skills and, of course, friends. As Akaki mentioned, “this camp’s main goal was to improve our quality of thinking, group working skills, concentration, balance, and mental thinking․”
The end of the Wikicamp was very emotional. Children gathered around the bonfire, roasted marshmallows, sang songs, danced, cried and, of course, promised to edit Wikipedia actively and to return again.