Almost 70 Azerbaijani and Armenian pupils from different regions of Georgia participated in GIPA Media Lab project, which was held during GIPA Documentary Film Festival. Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Tbilisi.
The youngest participant was 12-year-old Kanan Azizbayov from Khuldere village near Marneuli. There is only one school in the village and Azizbayov is in seventh grade.
“I do not have many friends in the village. I cannot talk to most kids. Our opinions are different. After GIPA Media Lab program, I have gained more friends,” he said.
Many problems in villages are bothering Azizbayov. Now he works on a project called “No Smoke, Book!” He wants to have special places for kids to read books and do lessons.
Azizbayov said he had no any connection with Armenian children before GİPA Media Lab. ”At first we did not speak much to each other. But now we also have a separate team group and we are close friends,“ he said.
Sema Hasanova is in 12th grade in Aşağı Saralı village. Her greatest desire is to become a well-known journalist.
She said education at school does not satisfy her. Every day Sama goes to another village to study with an individual teacher.
“You are a girl, so you can never make it!” won at the GIPA Document Festival’s Media Lab project, and Hasanova received the opportunity to study free at GIPA for a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
Her family does not support her. “My father says that I should be a doctor or a teacher. I do not know how to convince my family,” she said.
Aziz Ganiyev won a special mention award in the ADAMI Media Prize 2018 competition for a short documentary film, “Being Young in Ashagi Saral.”
He was in Moldova when the festival began and arrived on the final day.
An Armenian friend informed him about the victory: “He tagged me on the post announcing the winners for ADAMI Media Prize. For the first time, I was traveling on a plane to a foreign country. It was very exciting and interesting. With GIPA Media Lab, I’ve created new pages in my life. There are so many wonderful friends that understand me today. I’ve won all with GIPA Lab.”He loves journalism and his greatest desire is to study for a bachelor’s degree in GIPA and then pursue his studies abroad.
Artur Mosoyan, 19, last year’s GIPA Media Lab prize winner from Akhalkalaki, returned with another project. Last year he got the opportunity to study in GIPA for free.
One of his projects was about a village that had only 40 inhabitants. In the future Mosoyan wants to make a documentary about people leaving Akhalkalaki to find work.
Mosoyan said that at the beginning his teachers in Akhalkalaki were not very supportive. They were concerned that Mosoyan’s participation in the project would affect his school attendance.
Mosoyan has no regrets: ”Due to GIPA I overcame many complexes I had. Before these projects I was very shy to take a camera and shoot in the streets. GIPA gave me English knowledge, it gave me an opportunity for free education.” With a smile on his face, he added: ”GIPA gave me everything.”
Kristina Akobyan, 17, from Akhalkalaki was participating in GIPA Media Lab for the first time.
Interested both in journalism and filmmaking, Akobyan doesn’t know yet which profession she will choose. Her documentary film “With Great Hopes” recently won a prize at a festival held in Armenia.
Akobyan thinks GIPA Media Lab will give her the opportunity to learn all the good and bad sides of both professions and make a proper decision.
For both Akobyan and Mosoyan, GIPA’s project was the first opportunity to meet and communicate with Azerbaijani youth.
”I didn’t know how it would be. But when I saw them, started talking to them, I understood that they are not actually any different from us. We became friends during these days,” said Akobyan.
Meruzh Khnkoyan, 18, from Ninotsminda participated in Media Lab for the second time. ”When we were first coming last year, on the bus I was thinking when we meet Azerbaijani young people we will have a fight,” he said. But Khnkoyan made friends with Azerbaijani colleagues. ”When this year we came for the second time we have all missed each other. We met as good friends: we hugged and kissed.“
Mosoyan said he never had any concerns: “Nationality does not matter, whether the person is Azerbaijani, Armenian or Georgian. Human is human. I never had any stereotypes on this. There are only language barriers in communication.”
“There is no competition between Armenians and Azerbaijanis here. The biggest winner is friendship,” Kenan Serifov, one of this year’s winners, said in his speech. which was followed by huge applause from all over the room.