7 October 2016

WikiCamp Portugal 2016: mixing language with fun!


Ten days filled with sun, writing and outdoor activities marked the second Western Armenian WikiCamp. It took place in Portugal at the Tempo de Aventura youth camp in Cadaval, from the 17th to 26th of August 2016.

This year the WikiCamp was attended by 57 participants, coming from Athens (2), Beirut (8), Istanbul (19), Lyon (4), Marseille (2), Paris (12) and Yerevan (10), including 7 facilitators. Throughout the week, participants wrote and edited articles for Wikipedia and Wiktionary, related to a large variety of topics: from Harry Potter to architecture, from biographies to even umbrellas. In addition to writing, participants engaged in a number of enjoyable outdoor activities such as zip lining, canoeing, swimming and playing several team sports. While the core objective of the WikiCamp Portugal 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. Indeed, the participants immediately created an on-line group and remain in touch regularly across countries!

The closing ceremony took place on August 24th. Participation certificates were distributed to each attendee, including the remarkable facilitators. On the last day, the Armenian Communities Department organized a field trip to Lisbon which included a visit to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation where WikiCamp participants had the opportunity to tour the Museum and take photos next to Gulbenkian’s iconic garden statue.

Participants left Portugal committed to continue writing articles in Western Armenian for Wikipedia. Some were eager to establish Wiki writing clubs in their own cities. Both the Director of the Armenian Communities Department, Razmik Panossian, and its Senior Officer responsible for Western Armenian revitalization, Ani Garmiryan, visited the WikiCamp on several occasions and were truly impressed by its dynamic participants.

The WikiCamp in Portugal was not based on a competitive approach aiming to write as many articles as possible. Rather, it emphasized language acquisition, writing skills development, self-confidence and participative group work.

“It is rare to see such excitement about –and creativity in- the Armenian language among young people,” said Razmik Panossian. “WikiCamps make the language fun and accessible, instead of being seen as a burden or a relic,” he added.
Wikimedia Armenia was founded in 2013. It is an active member of the International Wikimedia Foundation, and recognized for its innovative initiatives under the leadership of Susanna Mkrtchyan. The Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation started to support Wikimedia Armenia in 2015 to encourage young authors to write articles in Western Armenian.