Interacting with the kids in Artsakh and Gyumri has been one of the greatest experiences I’ve had when it comes to children. I was placed in the blue group with Nanor as my co-captain. When we met the kids in Artsakh, we knew that they were going to be one of the funniest groups, they were raucous, annoying, yet at the same time we loved them. They were ridiculous, constantly complaining about the most useless things. One of them, Gamo, would never want to sit on the ground, his main concern was that the ground was too dirty for his fresh clothes; he wore the same outfit everyday. He was one of the troublemakers in the blue group along with Haik and Araik. These three would constantly disrupt every single class; the names would make me shudder when I would try to plan out my English or Health lessons for the following days.
For two weeks Nanor and I labored at trying to make the group of 45 plus kids learn the words to Yelek Hayer and Baderazm enk Gnoom for the song competition. Not only did they have to learn the words, they needed to learn how to sing together. The competition was on Thursday and blue group was not ready at all. We were extremely stressed, nervous and wanted to kill ourselves. We gave constant lectures about how disrespectful and shameful their behavior was but to no avail, they would grin then promise to behave and repeat the same irritable behavior. It was a vicious cycle.
Nanor and I had almost lost all hope for this group. They were so apathetic when it came down to singing the songs, there was absolutely no emotion, I was very certain that the blue group was going to lose the competition. The day of the competition, the blue group came in as usual being loud and ridiculous, we practiced the songs once before the competition and as usual it was not the greatest performance. Red was our main competition, the group leaders Mane and Hoory would tell us how their group would sing with full emotion and would bring them to tears. Hearing this, Nanor and I became discouraged knowing that our group couldn’t muster up the tiniest bit of emotion for any of the songs. However, when song competition began, all of a sudden the blue group transformed into this amazing choir signing loudly and together. It was beautiful. We were in shock; we never expected them to come together like that. I got goosebumps for the first time while hearing my group sing.
After the song competition, we lined up to hear the winners of the competition and the winners of the entire camp activities. Unger Berj started with the drawings the groups created. Orange and Blue both got second place and Red took first. This is when our group started to come to terms with our eventual placement at second place for song competition. Unger Berj moved on to song competition, and everyone grew quiet awaiting the final judgment. Orange takes third place. Blue members started to talk amongst each other saying that red probably took first, and that it’s fine that we’ll be taking second. Our entire group was in complete shock when Unger Berj announced Red took second and we were the winners of song competition! I can safely say winning the song competition was one of the proudest moments of my life. The joy, excitement and pride is beautifully captured in the attached video.
Now we’re in Gyumri and just finished our second day at camp and I’m excited to see what the following days will bring about. When Nanor and I met these kids we were quite surprised as they were relatively well behaved. We would tell them to stay quiet and they actually would. However, when we started the first game this afternoon, Steal the Bacon, the kids got intense. With the combined action of cheering and reminders that the Blue group was the best, we won! They were so happy; it was like the light opened up in their eyes. After the game you could feel the rise of camaraderie and loyalty within the blue group. This is a group of kids who just met each other in the morning as it was most of their first times at camp, yet after the game they were like a group of well-trained soldiers, knowing each others names and helping each other out. Gyumri Blue started off well and we’ll see how Red and Orange strike back in the coming days. Regardless of the outcome I’m proud to be Blue.