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[ACYOA Dispatches]: The 2010 ACYOA Armenia Service Program Day 5 – Gyumri Youth Center.

July 12, 2010

By Eric Ashbahian

Do as the locals do. That has been my credo as I have toured and worked in Armenia over the past week and a half. When the group visited a local youth center, one of the girls there said that some youth were gathering in the main square to read at 7:30 in the evening. At the time I did not know exactly why they were doing this, but I learned that the goal of the event was twofold: to try to show Gyumri locals that reading is not geeky and to bring the local youth together.

We read silently for about 15 minutes and then had discussions in groups of about 10 as to why we felt reading was important, as well as what our favorite book was and why. The participants asked me a lot of questions about what I was doing in Armenia, as well as what I thought of their country. They offered to take me on a tour of their city.

The people of Gyumri are extremely proud of who they are and the culture they have been able to preserve. I received an amazing introduction to Gyumri from the viewpoint of the youth. I will never forget my time with them; it is an experience I will carry with me always.

In and around Gyumri; the old district of Slabotka

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Credit: Katrina Shakarian

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