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Zarmanazan: Not your run-of-the-mill summer camp


May 05, 2018


By Lilly Torosyan


Zarmanazan: Not your run-of-the-mill summer camp

Ever wanted to learn Armenian? Looking for a cool way to spend your summer? How about you kill two birds with one stone by signing up for Zarmanazan!




Summer “village” program (The organizers try to distance themselves from the word “camp”)




Western Armenian, English, French


UNESCO’s mandate for preserving endangered languages functions on the notion that saving a language saves a culture. We could just as well say that it takes a culture to save a language. Ani Garmiryan of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation believes that—in the case of Western Armenian—“it takes a village to raise a language.”

For a period of two weeks every summer, a remote village in the French Alps converts into a Western Armenian hub for youngsters aged 10-15 (and this year, 16-24-year-olds will be included in the mix).

The philosophy is simple: do not force a language down a child’s throat but make them fall in love with it unwittingly. Nowhere, and at no time, do any of the instructors ask or command students to speak in Armenian. Instead, the immersion process is natural and, like most summer camps, lively and fun. Only the difference here is that, unlike in most summer camps, students come to associate the Armenian language with fun, not a burden or obligation. And that is the key to learning, creating, and revitalizing a language.

Why an A grade?

Though the program is quite new, the buzz around it keeps on growing. Because of the age expansion, this may be a great opportunity for you to consider this summer. And, as an added perk, you’ll be in France!

Perk #2: several members of the funky French ethno-folk band, Collectif Medz Bazar, participate as camp counselors and instructors, so you’re bound to listen to some great music—in addition to the many games, dances, art projects, theater, and other activities they have cooking up at Zarmanazan. We, at h-pem, are super excited to follow this program and its participants, and can’t wait to see it grow!


Fees for the 2018 session include all travel, accommodation, and program costs.

Travel from country of origin:

  • Europe and the Middle East: €1,200
  • United States of America: $1,400 (USD)
  • Canada: $1,800 (CAD)


One of my friends participated last year as a teacher-in-training and when he found out that the age group had been expanded this year, his reaction was a cool “Yes!”

How to enroll 

Visit and fill out the application. There are two separate registration forms (one for each group: 10-15 and 16-24-year-olds). Check out the site for sign-up dates, registration information, and information on last year’s program (including a video with testimonials by participants, organizers, and counselors).

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