Seemingly to be Borders

Marta Asatryan

Projects of educational exchanges are an important component in the author pedagogy programme of the "Mkhitar Sebastatsi" Educational Complex. With these projects, different groups of students and teachers of the Educomplex establish partnership relations with the educational institutions of Armenia as well as of Artsakh and Georgia.  The partnership is a chance for spreading our author pedagogy, studying the pedagogical experience of others, working out and realizing long-term joint projects.  The project "Armenian-Georgian Educational Bridges" has a ten-year history, and it shows the stability of our educational exchanges. The educational bridges of the Educomplex also connect us with Turkey. It is already eight years that different groups of students and teachers of the Educomplex have participated in the NASA International Space Camp in Izmir. Hrant Dink Foundation՚s Turkey-Armenia Programme of 2017 gave us an opportunity to establish educational exchange programmes also in Istanbul. The Foundation's Armenia-Turkey grant programme enabled 10 teachers of the Educomplex to visit Pezchian Armenian Lyceum and Hrant Dink Foundation which gave a start for future partnerships.

Tatian Lyceum in Istanbul invited a group of students and teachers to Istanbul to establish cultural and educational bridges.
So the project was worked out, and the students began working on the project, the aim of which was to get to know Turkey and Istanbul better. The transport was chosen, the group was formed, the route was specified, and most importantly, Armenian families in Istanbul and the teachers of Tatian Lyceum were waiting for us.
My report will have several parts. 

The Educational Exchange project with Tatian Armenian Lyceum 
Tatian Lyceum was founded in K. Polis in 1892 by the Tatian Dynasty. Now it has a kindergarten, an elementary and secondary school with 426 students. Children of Armenian families in Istanbul study here. The aim of the Armenian Lyceum is to preserve and spread the Armenian language, Armenian traditions, customs, rituals, and culture. With the help of our educational bridges, the Armenian children in Istanbul will mix with children from Armenia, be in Armenian environment, see Armenian letters in everyday life. In the result of this first joint project, the students of the Yerevan "Mkhitar Sebastatsi" Educomplex were hosted in the Armenian families in Istanbul. That was the most important part of the project. We had joint performances. Our student Milena Tevatrosyan performed her mono-performance "Within a Kiss", and showed us a performance based on Roper Hapechian's sayings. Our teacher of music Anna Yeritsyan organized teaching of Armenian national dances and dance-songs.

 

The students of the Educomplex took part in the lessons at the Lyceum. The western Armenian, structure of the lessons and the way the students of the Lyceum took part in the lessons, interested them. We had an educational tour visiting Armenian Churches on the Bosphorus shore. We also visited the Kedron Lyceum. Ter Husik Priest, a teacher at the Lyceum, told us interesting facts about the architecture, history, and priests of the churches. The Armenian schools in Istanbul differ much from the schools in Armenia. The pictures of Armenian benefactors can be seen on the walls of the schools. Ms. Alice, the school headmistress, had organized everything so that our students would feel like at home: joint breakfasts, joint tours, evening performances, constantly accompanying local teachers. It seemed as if there were no borders, and that was the key to the success of our joint project. I also consider it to be a success that the members of the Turkish Parliament who are in charge of the educational sphere, were also aware of the project and are going to visit Armenia in September. 

At the Editorial Office "Akos"
They were surprised and delighted by the fact that a group of students from Armenia had come to Turkey to the neighboring country to see, learn and communicate. We were received very warmly. There were talks, questions, and answers and, of course, a great inspiration. The editorial staff of the "Akos" left their daily work and joined our group. They were interested in everything: how we had traveled, what project we were engaged in, what our students knew about Turkey, Istanbul and Hrant Dink. They were surprised at how well our students were informed. Our students, in their turn, asked questions and expressed their own opinions freely. 

Istanbul
I have been to more than ten towns in Turkey. Istanbul differs from all others. It is a shocking mixture of different nationalities, religions, and cultures. If we look at the world map, we can see that the city is divided into two main parts by the Bosphorus Strait. It stretches along the Bosphorus Strait and is the only navigation channel between the Black and the Mediterranean Sees. Istanbul is a great city of contrasts, a cultural and trade center. 

The streets in Istanbul are always crowded irrespective of the time of the day and the weather. You can see representatives of different nationalities and religions here. The students of our Educomplex added a new touch to this multicolored world. They were walking along the streets with great self-reliance, wanted to see, taste and buy everything. They were running from shop to shop, bargaining and buying presents. The shopkeepers knew neither English nor Russian. Levon was the only person among us who knew some Turkish words. You can imagine our multilingual communications in the shops, underground, everywhere. I myself spoke only Armenian, and they understood me quite well. We were walking along narrow streets, gazing at colorful ornaments in the churches and mosks, admiring the medieval castles and historical monuments.   We were attracted by using the city transport. There are two types of buses: ordinary and speedy.  We were speaking and laughing loudly and it seemed to us that nobody understood us, and suddenly we heard, "Are you from Armenia?" At that moment we became twice as happy and began talking to our new acquaintance joyfully.  

Our Revelations

Valera Tevatrosyan, Milena's brother with an opposite character, was a revelation for me. This boy is full of positive energy.  
(In Istanbul):

Traveling with Ani Sargsyan is a real revelation. Everybody knows Ani to always be full of complaints but when you travel with her, she makes your traveling days live with her camera. 

It was a specific revelation for us to be on the same bus, traveling from Istanbul to Yerevan, with some Armenians who were engaged in importing goods to Armenia from Turkey. How good they were at trading intrigues. On the other hand, our students were an unusual revelation to them. Levon was especially popular. 

I appreciate this educational tour for a few reasons:

  • Young Armenian people should get to know the culture and history of our neighboring country.
  • Establishing friendly relationships between the Yerevan and Istanbul teachers and schoolchildren.
  • A country study tour of 4000km long route during which we constantly learn.

I consider this project to be a success. I am thankful to Ms.Alice, the headmistress of Tatian Lyceum, and the Science teacher Sybel for organizing our days in Istanbul. I am also thankful to the parents of the project participants for trusting us, and their children became active participants in a real educational tour. 
 

Electronic package of preparatory work (in Armenian)

Traveling notes, series of photos (Notes are in Armenian)

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