Media Literacy Ambassadors of Tavush, Gegharkunik and Syunik

In November of last year with the financial support of European Youth Foundation, we have kicked off “Media Literacy Ambassadors: Advancing Media Literacy and Digital Participation among Regional Youth in Armenia” project that aims to equip young people in 3 borderline regions of Armenia (Syunik, Gegharkunik and Tavush) with key media literacy skills: critical thinking, fact checking, online safety, social media verification, and quality assessment of online information and their sources through a 7-day dedicated training course, tailored to local youth needs.

After the Training Course our young regional participants started their own small initiatives becoming young media literacy ambassadors in their communities. We decided to talk to few of them to see how “far” they have gone.

Laura Mkrtchyan – My name is Laura, I am 17 years old and I study in the 11th grade of Gavar Secondary School. I am actively involved in volunteering activities and also take part in many interesting projects. I have not selected the main field of my future studies yet, because I see myself in many different sectors, that is why I still continue to study different topics to find the one which is the closest to my heart. I want to develop myself as a self-taught person and I always like to share new knowledge with my friends, classmates, and young people in my community.

Participating in the “Media Literacy Ambassadors: Advancing Media Literacy and Digital Participation among Regional Youth in Armenia” project hosted by APY, I gained a lot of knowledge about media. This project has been very exceptional for me since I have participated with big interest in the topic and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to participate in the project. Right after the end of the training, I started organizing local workshops in my community in Gavar, transferring the knowledge I gained to the youth of my community. In addition, I helped the adults to distinguish between fake and real social media pages and posts on social networks.

In the future, I’m going to organize more trainings and meetings, because media literacy is a very demanded topic in our current reality. We are all a part of social media and we often become victims of fake news and other threats present on social media. Let’s altogether create more media literate Armenia.

Sona Bakunts – Hello, my name is Sona, I am from Syunik, from the depths of deep mountains. I lived and grew up in the Verishen community. I am currently a student, studying at the State University of Goris, Department of Armenian Language and Literature. At the same time, I work in the ‘’Bari Sirt’’ Charitable Foundation as a programs coordinator. I have many hobbies – dancing, doing sports, reading, etc.

Last year, in November I participated in one-week “Media Literacy Ambassadors” Training activity organized by my very favorite APY NGO. As a result of the training, we gained a lot of knowledge about media, we raised important media literacy issues, got a full understanding of the field, as we had learned to create podcasts, and studied one of the most important and actual topics of nowadays – cyber security.

After completing the course, I carried out large-scale activities. I have organized numerous knowledge-based courses for students of Artsakh State University, students of Verishen Secondary School, staff of Verishen Elementary School, women employees of Faberlic Company and Soft Martakert in the field of media literacy and cybersecurity.

Heriknaz Arzumanyan – My name is Heriknaz and I am an SMM Specialist. I also deliver trainings of Computer Science and Media Literacy. I have been working as an SMM specialist for about 4 years. After the “Media Literacy Ambassadors” TC in cooperation with “The Armenian Center for Human Rights Protection after A. D. Sakharov’’ NGO in Syunik region, we have conducted 4 trainings and created 2 videos on fact-checking and media literacy using the presentations of the project.

Several workshops were held in Goris, as well as in the villages of Karahunj and Akner. I also conducted 1 workshop in the border village of Vaghatur. In the near future, I plan to conduct online training courses for the border villages of the Tegh community, also in Goris, as I have a preliminary agreement with the youth of Hrant Baghdagulyan’s Studio, according to which non-formal seminars are allowed to be conducted.

Lilit Shahbazyan – My name is Lilit, I am a social pedagogue by profession. I work as a social worker at the “Little Prince” social center in Gavar city of Gegharkunik region, which is a branch of the “Armenian Caritas” charitable NGO. Participating in the “Media Literacy Ambassadors” training course conducted by “Armenian Progressive Youth” NGO in November of last year, on February 2-7 of of this year, I conducted my own seminar on “Media Literacy” for the students of the “Little Prince” Center in Gavar of the Armenian Caritas.

During the training we studied how to navigate through online resources and websites, fact-checking, digital marketing, podcasts, and cyber security. Every workshop included practical tasks, expanding participants’ skills and abilities, enriching their knowledge.

Nonna Mirzoyan – I am Nonna from Goris community, I am a literture critic by profession, but I have been working in the field of public relations and media for 5 years already, working in the public relations and media department of Goris State University as a person in charge.

Currently, as a volunteer for Sose Women Issues NGO, I work in the public sphere, participating in various NGO programs aimed at creating a healthy civil society environment in the region, youth activism, and improving youth participation in community issues.

I am currently taking English language courses as well. I am a life-loving, dreamy person, I like to sing, dance, recite and travel.2021 In November 2021, I participated in the ” Media Literacy Ambassadors” program of the “Armenian Progressive Youth” NGO, being trained by a group of talented young people from different regions of Armenia by leading specialists in the Armenian media sector. With one of the participants representing Syunik, Melanya Tosyan, who has been presenting to the program, since December 2021, we have conducted “Media Literacy” courses in Shinuhair, Halidzor settlements of Tat community, Syunik region. conveying to them what was enthusiastically accepted by the participants, as I would like to mention that there were also suggestions from the management of other schools, which, depending on some technical issues, we have not implemented yet.

We have launched the “Media Literacy on the Border” page on the Facebook social platform (again with Melania), where we regularly present the courses we have conducted and provide media knowledge to our followers through various interesting publications, who are mainly media consumers in Syunik region.Frankly, due to material means, we have interrupted some of our work, with the intention of continuing in the future if there are means. I should mention that the media sphere has big gaps in the region, we became more convinced of that after the organization of the courses.

In the coming months, I am going to continue my volunteer work within the framework of the mentioned programs, to have a main job in the public sphere, to organize media courses, as well as to continue my education in this direction.