- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 March 28, 2003 

Cybervision: Work of Iraqi-Armenian and American-Armenian meets in the net

Each alphabet letter's pronunciation and words identified by animated pictures on top of poetry, songs and fragments of the Bible were pieces forming just another book of Armenian language until two Armenians representing today's sworn enemies put the pages to the Internet.

Shirak Avakyan, born in Iraq, and Alec Baghdasaryan, living in the United States, have come across a way to bring their peers in one single cyber residence by posting on the net a course book of learning Armenian.

Free of charge is primarily intended for the Armenian children who wish to learn their ancestors' language but it is also an opportunity for Diaspora adults to find more contacts about their home country and people living in it.

Composed and structured by schoolteachers, the cyber course is divided into seven classes. Alphabet letters, words and small texts are recorded by a group of children selected by the web designer, Shirak, and a number of patriotic songs, as well posted on the web, are performed by an Armenian choir.

Visitors, whose age varies from 5 to 40 years old, can also enjoy Armenian poetry, a Bible for kids and information about Armenia, pictures of Yerevan, plus history of architecture and arts.

"When I saw this old lady looking at my website together with her grandson", Shirak shares his experience, "I felt happy and encouraged to offer more."

Coming to Armenia was a lifelong dream of Shirak, but also a sense of duty driven by the idea that every Armenian should one day return to his homeland. A graduate from the University of Baghdad, where he studied physics, Shirak was already running a small printing house at the age of 23.

He says he started his business in a small office by borrowing money from his friends and managed to cover his expenses by using his money rationally. "If my father ever gave me $10, I would spend them on books, and never on bad things."

But Shirak decided to change his path even though his business was bringing him a good living. And Armenia was not a smooth road.

"When I first came here," he says, "I saw that life is much more different and that I have to start all over again."

He started to learn computers and almost four years ago moved to Yerevan. First working with a small computer-designing agency, he later discovered the Information Integration Group (IIG), an American company that offered him a job in the Yerevan office.

Alec Baghdasaryan, who is the IIG director, financed the project that Shirak has fully designed and is carrying it out now.

"We didn't think at first that our website will become famous," says Shirak," but when we saw the increasing number of our visitors, we decided to expand our project".

Given his zeal for Armenia and passion for children, Shirak has planned to release a CD containing the cyber course and use its returns on rebuilding schools in Armenia. He says he will use its first revenues on the school from which teachers helped him to build the language course.

Shirak also dreams to be able one day to organize exchange groups of Armenian kids from around the world and have them travel throughout Armenia.

Since also hosts a chat room for its users, it is a real "connection between the Armenian children from Armenia and the Armenian children from all around the world", as Shirak speaks referring to his dream of bringing together the kids who met through his website.


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  Photo of the week
Click on the photo above to enlarge


At today's Under-21 football match between Armenia and Northern Ireland, played in Abovian, the match had to be delayed for nearly an hour while workers cleared the pitch of snow. When the field was cleared, the home team played to a 2-0 victory.



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