Yesterday I went to the opening of the photo exhibition of "Manana" youth educationa-cultural media center's students at Naregatsi Art Center.
"Manana" center is my native organization. 10 best years of my life were connected to it :) first, I was a student of the journalism, photography and filmmaking clubs, then - a teacher of Web design and computer skills.
"Manana" non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 1995. The center brings together people of different ages and interests, who are all educators, irrespective of their main profession, and are deeply concerned with children's issues. Throughout these years Manana has been working towards the spiritual, intellectual and physical development of the children. Different years there have been Journalism, Photography, Film making, English language, Painting, Animation, Handicraft, Computer skills, Web design and Debate clubs...
The Center started its activities literally from nothing. It began in a one-room apartment where the first classes took place on the floor. There was no in-kind or financial support, and no expectations to ever acquire any. The deep awareness of the importance of this new undertaking, and the sheer enthusiasm of the teachers, were the basis of everything. The Center's most valuable resource today still lies in its talented and devoted members, volunteers, parents, and students, whose numbers grow each year.As for me, the uniqueness of Manana is that it's not just teaching-learning like courses of journalism, etc. It's a learning-by-doing method with elements of peer-to-peer education. The kids have opportunity to publish their works, so they are working on the "products" themselves.
For example, they need to publish a newspaper. Apart from writing articles, stories, interviewing different people and making the photo & graphic illustrations for own articles, they are also learning how to make the layout of the newspaper, how to publish them on the website, how to translate etc... same with the films and other products.
The teachers are mostly the alumni of Manana. Like me :) This fact makes the classes (club meetings) more comfy and effective. The kids see that we are enthusiastic for helping them in their learning and they help us too.
The children of Manana have the unique opportunity to develop their talents and to realize own capabilities. They get the opportunity to participate in many international & local events, travel, explore and experience things that are usually not available to average Armenian schoolchildren.
Manana is open to youngsters from 8 to 16 y.o. that can contribute their time and skills. Clubs' meetings take place in the afternoon, after the kids come from their schools. Each club usually meets once a week, for 1.5 hours. For some years, I used to be in "Manana" for almost everyday after my classes, participating in all clubs' works.
"Manana" is non-commercial and the participation in the clubs is free, so it's accessible to kids from families with limited possibilities. Currently "Manana" is being funded by Tufenkian Charitable foundation and Paros Foundation, and throughout the years it has received support from different individuals that were helping to get the needed technical equipment - computers, cameras, editing hardware and software etc...
I like it also that there's always a very cozy and nice atmosphere... always lots of work, lots of upcoming events and achievements. It's difficult to name all the awards, certificates and recognition that "Manana" has gained throughout these years since it's a veeeeeeeery long list!
We have participated in numerous film festivals, photo exhibitions.. stories have been published in many magazines and websites...
"Manana" is a full member of European Youth Press, CIFEJ.
Our old website with the works is here: www.mibanasem.com. ("Mi ban asem" means- "I got to tell you something")
Just the fact that Manana is more known abroad than in Armenia is a bit confusing...
I can definitely say that if not my involvement in Manana, I won't be the same person. I learned so many things, met so many people and seen so many things there that I just cannot describe my gratitude... it's simply invaluable.
As you can guess, there are so many things you can live in 10 years... but imagine when it's so active, different, interesting and fun?!
I have a huge collection of photos of Manana....I want to share with you some of them...
My first months in Manana. 1997
my fav. room in Manana. children working on collages. 2004
trip to Dilijan/Haghartsin 2004
On Aragats mountain. 2005