YEREVAN —The Manana Youth Center is more than your typical afterschool program — it’s an organization focused on developing the intellectual and creative talents of youth in Armenia.
The multimedia training organization was founded in 1995 and offers free classes in animation, filmmaking, journalism and photojournalism. “Students are educated as artists and critical thinkers, and through Manana’s classes, they become socially minded citizens speaking for their generation,” said Emma Nolan-Abrahamian, center volunteer.
Each year, Manana works with up to 100 Yerevan students, ranging in age from 7 to 16. There are no entrance exams and everyone is encouraged to participate. In recent years, Manana has expanded beyond Yerevan, conducting workshops in different regions around Armenia.
Originally from New York, Nolan-Abrahamian came to Armenia with Birthright Armenia and Armenian Volunteer Corps. She spent from mid-February to the end of July volunteering with Manana. As a volunteer, Nolan-Abrahamian said, “I typically spent the morning preparing for classes, working on the Indiegogo campaign for the Sand Animals project, organizing student images for Manana’s archives or working on other short-term projects. I taught two photography classes, and an English conversation class each week.”