GAOF ANNUAL RETREATS
We are pleased to take glance of our summer retreat program, which was effective this year: firstly, it was filled with numerous cultural discoveries, a very interesting program of educational visits, as well as many exciting events, and birthday parties, a high level of organized work and a good mood, leaving unforgettable, joyful days of memories (In photographs, all this is obvious). The program was attended by students of the “Our Lady of Armenia” youth center Ani Bezikeyan, whose camp days were spent in the two most impressive cities of Georgia – Tbilisi and Batumi. We went to Georgia, providing the most comfortable and relaxed atmosphere for our participants. Within the framework of the project, a visit to the Scientific and Cultural Center of the “House of Hovhannes Tumanyan”, located in the very center of Tbilisi, was organized. Its third floor apartment now serves the preservation of Tumanyan heritage and cultural traditions. The atmosphere of Tumanyan’s house during our visit was filled with another shade when our girls sang “Out of the Cloud” with Armenian softness. Tumanyan definitely liked it. The next meeting was with the members of the “Hayartun” Center at the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Yevgenia Markosyan, head of the education department of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia, introduced to our girls the Armenian volunteers of the Center, whose efforts are aimed at transmitting Armenian song and dance, traditions, writing and fairy tales, Christian culture to our young compatriots, especially the younger generation. We have completed our visit In the St. Gevorg Church Etchmiadzin (also known as St. Etchmiadzin or New Etchmiadzin), by praying “Our Father”. Then, under the guidance of Fr. Tatev Marukyan, we visited the pantheon of Armenian writers and public figures “Khojivank” in Tbilisi, where Raffi, H. Tumanyan, G. Sundukyan, Muratsan, Nar-Dos, Jivani, Z. Agayan and others are buried. Inga Ghazaryan, a volunteer from SOAR-Tbilisi, was with us all this time. She was with us everywhere, as a homeowner, walked through the streets of the city and presented in historical sequence the results of Armenian creative thought and the work of Armenian men in Tbilisi. We are deeply grateful for Inga’s caring attitude. Then our fun train headed for the seaside tourist city of Batumi. Sunny days were the best companion of our visit, which further warmed the company of our team members. The moving sculpture “Ali Nino” by Georgian sculptor Tamara Kvesitadze introduced us to her unique love story. And the next stop was the most famous dolphinarium in Georgia and the first in the Soviet Union. Very impressive dolphin performances were a good end to the day. Accompanied by continuous guitar songs, our cheerful group returned to Armenia, bringing with them a new worldview, a long-standing reality according to which the creative hand of an Armenian person, regardless of the corner of the world, has the inherent gift to create something solid. By the way, during our short 6-day visit, we tried traditional dishes and snacks of Georgian cuisine and celebrated three birthdays. And with a festive mood, we are still waiting for the next camp program.
The fourth annual Gulamerian Retreat!
Yesterday we left for Stepanavan for the Summer Retreat. We stopped midway to have some sandwiches and drinks. The place we stayed was very beautiful, surrounded by mountains, trees and flowers. The kids had time to get to know each other, they decorated picture frames, played different games and in the evening they danced near the bonfire. We had a birthday yesterday. It was Armen’s birthday from Nubarashen. We bought cakes, candles and had gifts for him. He was very happy as in Nubarashen they are not have birthday celebrations as we understood.
After having breakfast in the morning we left for Dendroparc. We walked about 5kms and enjoyed the natural beauty of the park. As it was raining and the kids were tired, we took taxis to go back to the hotel. After lunch we had art classes and the kids showed their creativity.
The day began with hand work and creativity. They made bracelets, necklaces, painted and presented or offered their works to others. After having a walk in nature, we started to make pizza and involved all the children. They were very good chefs and their pizzas were delicious. In the evening we passed time by watching cartoons outside on the big screen.
The day began with outdoor activities and then the children continued working on their hand work. As it was raining outside, they passed some time in their rooms. In the evening we had a training about professional orientation led by Alina. The children had some questionnaires to fill out and then talked about their preferences. Our volunteers shared their experiences and advice with the children.
The day began with painting activities led by SOAR volunteer Sona. The kids made a big painting decorated by collages. Every child had his contribution and finally we saw a beautiful work that will be kept in the SOAR office as a nice souvenir. The second activity was based on candles decoration. As it was the last evening, we decided to make cakes and cupcakes with kids for the farewell party. Our volunteer Mariam is an expert confectioner. She guided the kids and we had a yummy “sweet” party in the evening.
The third annual SOAR retreat took place in August 2017 in Jermuk, Armenia Hotel.
Dates: August 3 – August 10
26 girls from Mer Hooys Center, 13 girls from Mer Doon, 2 volunteers from Moscow Chapter, 1 volunteer from Yerevan chapter, 2 Mer Hooys employees, 2 Mer Doon employees
Over 10 study sessions including arts classes, cooking classes and development classes
Trip to Jermuk waterfalls
Final concert prepared by girls from Mer Hooys and Mer Tun and volunteers
The second annual SOAR retreat took place in August 2016 in Aghveran, Best Western Hotel.
Dates: August 7 – August 14
20 girls from Mer Hooys Center, 12 girls from Mer Dun, 2 volunteers from Moscow Chapter, 2 volunteers from Malaysia Chapter, 2 Mer Hooys employees, 1 Mer Doon employee
Over 12 study sessions: choice of arts classes and English classes + 2 study sessions on Environment Education
Trip to Monastery
Final exhibition and sale of art pieces made during the retreat
Final concert prepared by the girls from Mer Hooys and Mer Doon
The first SOAR retreat took place in August 2015 in Yeghegnadzor, Arpa Hotel.
Dates: August 5 – August 11
18 girls from Mer Hooys Center, 2 volunteers from Moscow Chapter, 1 volunteer from Frankfurt Chapter, 1 Mer Hooys employee
Over 8 study sessions including arts classes and religion session
Trip to Tatev and Noravank Monastery
Trip to Sevan