Ten incredible days: Thor Heyerdahl explorer camp expedition in Armenia

Eleven young researchers took part in the first international youth expedition «Thor Heyerdahl explorer camp expedition» in Armenia, 1-10 August, 2016.

Expedition had symbolic start in Yerevan on the earth of the first explorer Noah. Young participants 12-16 years old cam  e from different cities of Armenia and from Novosibirsk touristic club Kon-Tiki. Project was supported by Norwegian marine biologist, special advisor of Kon-Tiki Museum Thor Heyerdahl jr., Vahakn and Hasmig Hovnanian Foundation and Russian Geographical Society. The main purpose of expedition is building bridges between young people from different countries for development of common cultural, scientific and touristic projects.

During 10 days participants visited museums, monasteries and observatory in ten cities and three villages, saw the smallest 19 grams manuscript in Matenadaran museum, went down to cave city Khndzoresk and get to know the house’s expositions of famous Armenian writers Hovhannes Tumanyan and Aksel Bakunc. They also met with the chairman of youth Armenian-Russian union from Novosibirsk Ripsime Shmavonyan.

Young explorers were excited by visiting of two Armenian schools – Ayb in Yerevan and Tsahkunk village school. One of them has been built according to the latest word of science and technology: teachers make lectures in English and pupils create models on 3D printers in technic laboratory. It is possible to go down from one floor to another with help of lift or steel tube; the last way is more attractive for the pupils. Every child can study there if he or she passes exams. In Tsahkunk village school young delegates saw beautiful tapestry pictures, clay animal figures and wall paintings, which was made by children. «We think that all progress happens in city, but it is not true. From the point of creativity this school has a huge head start», – said Aleksandr Vronskiy, the member of the expedition.

Ambassador of Russia in Armenia Ivan Volynkin welcomed the young explorers. He noticed that Armenia is a country with huge cultural and historical heritage and its main wealth are the hospitable people, which suffered a lot of obstacles and saved their identity. The ambassador questioned the children about their research projects and told them about diplomatic work. The expedition realized in the spirit of the famous archaeologist, adventurer and ecologist Thor Heyerdahl. He empirically proved his theories of migration of ancient peoples and crossed the oceans on balsa raft, reeds and papyrus boats. Heyerdahl united people from different countries with various cultures and religious beliefs and he considered that boundaries exist only in people’s minds. His son Thor Heyerdahl jr. supported the idea of ​​the youth research project. He took part in call conference from Norway, told about the current research projects and answered questions from the children. His assistant Halfdan Tangen jr. came in Armenia from Oslo and made a lecture about the amazing journeys of Thor Heyerdahl. Speaking with children he said: «You have to put big goals, to go to them and believe in yourself».

«This project perfectly reflects the spirit of Thor Heyerdahl, and I am sure that the participants will carry the impressions through whole their life», – said Shant Hovnanian, the representative of Vahakn and Hasmig Hovnanian Foundation, which supported the project.

In expedition young researchers from Russia and Armenia spoke about their cultural traditions, made ​​presentations about their home cities. Two teams became friends quickly because of common interests and hobbies. In the evening the boys from Armenian team taught Russians their Armenian dances and sang Russian songs with a guitar. Together with the cultural exchange, the expedition had also scientific purposes. So, Shushanik Hayriyan from Stepanakert collected ornaments of khachkars for description and historical preservation. She develops the idea of ​​the identity of peoples, considering that the ancient drawings can decorate elements of modern clothes and household items, and such way preserving history. «It is first and the best camp I have taken part to. I am highly impressed. The best memories are those happy and crazy time spent with the participants. I won’t ever forget that unforgettable time. All participants of our camp are my best friends and people whom I am always ready to help and be together with them in their happy and sad moments», – Shushanik said.«Our program should be a bridge between the young generation.  And thanks to this bridge 10 years later they will know that they have friends in Armenia and Russia. Our project also has a spiritual meaning. The children became friends.  Friendship is on a spiritual level. I believe that it is necessary to develop the talented young generation for making the world a better place. We were able to convey the energy of the Armenian people and to give impressions for many years, – said Artak Zargaryan, the organizer of the project in Armenia.«We are at the beginnings of the big and important international project for young people. And it is wonderful that expedition has started in Armenia – a country with a rich history and traditions. Now we need to strengthen our bridges, and thus open up new opportunities for communication and cooperation of young people», – said Ekaterina Vronskaya, the representative of Novosibirsk region department of Russian Geographical Society, advisor to Director General on public relations of company «Data East».                The organizers plan to organize research expeditions in different countries and to involve young people to cultural and scientific international cooperation. The next expedition will take place in 2017 in Russia. In the year of the 70th anniversary of the famous Thor Heyerdahl’s expedition «Kon-Tiki» and the 80th anniversary of the Novosibirsk region city Novosibirsk will host the second youth expedition from different countries.