Embracing the Dream from a Height of 1800 m

 11:30,

The My Step Foundation’s Program Reviving Cultural Centres in the Regions is in full swing. Meetings with architects, designers, community representatives, volunteers and mentors working on the project have already begun.

On July 8, the staff of the My Step Foundation visited the communities of Ararat and Khachik and discussed with local representatives the various issues of community development, their prospects and the potential leading role of cultural centers.

The first stop was the Cultural Center of Ararat. Inheriting and preserving the center and their traditions from the Soviet period, the staff of the center is ready to bring new colors and opportunities to the center. During the visit, the work priorities were more clearly outlined.

The center is obviously a structure with great potential and opportunities. The building includes a hall, indoor and outdoor courtyards. The building was built with an interesting architectural design, and newly equipped halls will soon become a favorite place for the people of Ararat to create, communicate, develop and dream while encouraging them to be strongly connected to their community.

It should be noted that the employees of two cultural centers, Ararat and Khachik, have been participating in training, which is an important component of the cultural centers’ development program. For about three months now the cultural centers’ staff have been participating in weekly online meetings, communicating and discussing issues with each other and the program team, "It is very difficult to get rid of everyday worries, but we understand the need for these meetings, we already see the benefits they provide. Communication between cultural centers, although remote, but active, is a great opportunity to communicate, exchange ideas, goals, and experience. We often ‘steal’ ideas from each other, which can be very useful for our centers," admits Mrs. Gayane Haykyan, the director of the Ararat City Cultural Center.

Gayane Gharagyozyan, the mentor working with the staff and volunteers, was also in Ararat.

"When I first heard about the project for the development of cultural centers in the regions, I was pleasantly surprised and happy that a project finally emerged which will work for the promotion of art and culture in the regions.

I have personally witnessed the neglected conditions of cultural centers in different communities, not only as a building, but also as the most important resource that preserves the core values of community life and transmits it to future generations.

I am very excited about the restoration and development of dialogue between generations through art and craft. I am very excited to be part of this important project. I hope that my years of experience, skills and connections will allow me to make an effective contribution to the development of the cultural centers included in the program. I really appreciate my contact with the communities, as I am convinced that I have a lot to learn from them,” said Gayane, who also coordinates the development of the Meghradzor Cultural Center.

On the same day, the Foundation's staff continued their journey to the mountainous village of Khachik-gate of Zangezur. Everyone in Khachik village is excited and aware of the expected changes, from the youth to the elderly. "Our cultural center will be renovated, there will be clubs and other good things," say the children from Khachik, who all seem to look alike while wearing medical masks.

The prospect of reviving a cultural center built in front of the Church decades ago has united everyone in Khachik. They realize that there is a lot to do, but they are convinced that if they unite, they will succeed backed by their supporters and benefactors. Of course children's dreams and desires are different, but they all mention their big dream of having arts, crafts and sports clubs. "I am a native of Khachik, all my goals are connected with this village, we just need more activities, I dream of joining a photography club. After we started working with Ms. Eka, we have a lot of fun in our daily lives, and we look forward to meeting her every time. She has awakened in us the will to achieve our dreams,” says 16-year-old Anush.

Mentor Eka completely feels the pulse of the village, the warmth she conveys is more than mutual.

"The potential of the youth is the great capital that will maintain and advance the process started by their parents. This is a unique opportunity to dream together and make our dreams come true. We are all volunteers for Khachik, we are all from Khachik,” said Eka, a mentor for Khachik and Lchashen.

During the visit, the Foundation's staff visited the village school, the museum called "Roof", and got acquainted with the village's concerns and development opportunities. With its winding roads, giant walnuts, air filled with thyme, mint and rosemary, its unique cuisine, as well as the spiritually and culturally rich history this village has potential for the development of ecotourism, "What we start, our children will continue. It would be very good to organize courses at the Cultural Center, to teach us business skills. We are on our feet from four in the morning, we have everything, all that remains is to package it in the right way!” The village elders repeat.

Khachik's visit ended with an open-air seminar. Lilit Grigoryan, the Coordinator of the Foundation's Cultural Programs, talked with children about the human-society-art connection through works of Minas, Kochar, Saryan, Monet and Picasso. These questions are not new, they are universal and eternal, but for a more meaningful life, you need to think wider, discover your own abilities and develop your skills.

One of the goals of the Foundation's visits to regions and cultural centers is to inspire locals and make communities aware of new horizons of development. This time, the village of Khachik and it’s locals became a source of inspiration for us. On our way back, we already had confidence that thanks to the active participation and support of organizations and individuals operating both in Armenia and around the world, Khachik's dreams, which have already reached to amazing heights, will become a reality.

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