What’s more unusual than a 15-year-old hitchhiking through Armenia and teaching juggling and guitar?
“I became friends with volunteers from Argentina and we decided to hitchhike to Gyumri, Vanadzor, Amrakits and other towns,” recounted TUMO student Elen Demiryan. “During those trips, I learned everything you can think of — meditation, yoga — which turn out to be the perfect activities in Stepanavan’s forests.”
While meditation has played an important part in her journey as a volunteer, the story actually begins at Camp TUMO.
“I loved the kids at Camp TUMO and they loved me, too. But the best part was teaching people older than me. I think that being friendly and having the desire to learn are the most important things in education. That’s what I love about TUMO,” she said.
At TUMO, Elen has taken 15 workshops, 19 labs, and has no intention of stopping there. The first lab that she ever took was was pivotal in deciding her career path.
“I took drawing with workshop leaders Mikayel and Khoren, then kept going from there. Khoren was the one who encouraged me to take a typography lab with Lebanese designer Farah Fayad. Then I took a quadrilingual poster design lab with Haytham Nawar. That’s when everything changed. After class, I’d help him find interesting things in Yerevan. The conversations we had inspired me. During that period I created my favorite work, a Parajanov themed collage,” said Elen.
Elen comes from a creative family. They’re always supporting each other and holding each other accountable for promises and bets. For example, Elen and her mother wagered that she’d do well on her exams. Unfortunately, Elen did not hold up her end of the deal and ended up…bald.