LA BOURBOULE, France—The Wikimedia Foundation and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation hosted the Third International Wiki Camp for Western Armenian from Aug. 12 to 20. Forty-four participants from Armenia, Lebanon, Istanbul, France, Greece, and the United States had an opportunity to write and edit articles for the Armenian Wikipedia page.
The Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation began supporting Wikimedia Armenia in 2015 to encourage young authors to populate the website with Western Armenian articles. Western Armenian was placed in the Atlas of World’s Languages in danger by UNESCO in 2010. Through the Wiki Camps and the dedicated volunteers, Western Armenian articles have increased since the start of the project. In 2015, there were 650 Wikipedia articles; in the beginning of 2017, the article count was 5,565.
During the week-long program, the 16-25-year-old participants were trained on how to edit articles and write new ones with all of their components, and they participated in various activities throughout the day that encouraged the teenagers to write, talk, and read in Armenian in a casual, fun, and a dynamic environment.
Verginie Touloumian, the representative from the U.S., had an opportunity to edit the pages of Simon Vratsian and the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), and write new articles about the Vorsgan Group, Bedo, Vahan Navasartian, and the Battle of Mush’s St. Arakel Cathedral.
“It was inspiring to see that teenagers dedicate hours a week to populate the website with information,” said Touloumian.
“Through the program, we are combating the extinction of the language and encouraging the [expansion] of research topics available for people searching in Western Armenian,” Touloumian added.
Although the core objective of the Wiki Camp was to encourage participants to write in Western Armenian and use the language as an everyday means of expression, it also aimed to foster an exciting environment in which new friendships across the world were built. As participants departed, they received certificates of completion and vowed to continue adding to the archives of the popular website.