STEPANAKERT, NKR—Sometimes, there is no better way to understand and appreciate your surroundings than by looking at it through a different lens. That’s exactly what the students at TUMO Stepanakert did during the photography learning lab held in partnership with the HALO Trust.
The TUMO Center for Creative Technologies worked with the HALO Trust to create a lab that taught students how to develop their photography skills and highlight the HALO Trust’s work in demining and clearing explosives from the region. The photos taken by the students during this lab will be showcased in a HALO Trust exhibition in the United States.
World-renowned photo journalist Scout Tufankjian travelled to the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (Artsakh/NKR) to lead the lab. This was her second time teaching at TUMO and her first at TUMO Stepanakert; the focus of this lab was on documentary photography.
The group of 16 students journeyed throughout Karabagh to capture scenes of life around them. They photographed subjects of their own choosing and developed their own photo-stories.
Tufankjian commented, “I always learn so much from the students; they work so hard and think about things really deeply. Each student focused on something different and each brought a totally fascinating subject into the light. They produced really, really fabulous work.”
Tufankjian’s excitement for the lab was shared by her students. Samvel Sargsyan, 14, noted, “We’d look at Scout’s photos and apply what we saw to our own photos. In this way, we learned to see the beauty in everything.”
The work the students’ produced at TUMO Stepanakert reflected their hard work and determination in learning everything they could about documentary photography. But there is much more to come in the future for these teens. TUMO CEO Marie Lou Papazian notes, “We were very excited to partner with the HALO Trust because we expected excellent results and we were not disappointed. Though the TUMO Stepanakert center is the newest TUMO location and is less than a year old, the students are motivated and eager to learn as much as they can, and this learning lab with Scout Tufankjian and the HALO Trust only further proved it.”
The HALO Trust program manager, Yuri Shahramyan, commented, “One-third of the landmine casualties in Nagorno-Karabagh are children, so this lab was an excellent opportunity to educate TUMO students about the risks, while also explaining what HALO is doing to help make Karabagh safe. Their work does a great job of bringing our work to life, and we are looking forward to featuring it in our campaign to raise and match funds so we can make Karabagh mine free.”
The HALO Trust is a global humanitarian mine-clearance NGO that has been working to clear landmines, cluster munitions, and other explosives in Karabagh since 2000. It has cleared 86 percent of the minefields and is now raising funds to finish the work. An extremely generous anonymous donor has pledged to match the funds raised for the clearance of mines in Karabagh. For more information, visit www.halotrust.org/nagornokarabakh.
The TUMO Center for Creative Technologies is a free of charge, after-school learning center that gives students the opportunity to learn the latest in arts and technology. There are currently four centers opened in Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Stepanakert location was opened in 2015 through the TUMOxAGBU partnership.