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Flashmobs in Armenia – New Culture with Youth in Action.

An unpredictable, sudden, and surprising movement of people who assemble in public suddenly and perform an action in silent agreement for a brief time before dispersing.

Perhaps many of you guessed the above description, which refers to something known as the “Flashmob.” The term Flashmob is generally applied only to gatherings organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral emails. In Armenian, the term Flashmob is translated as a combination of two words: flash “kaitsak” and mob “ambokh.”

For me, a Flashmob is a very refreshing, enthusiastic event inspired by childhood spirit. As Friedrich Nietzsche stated, “In the true man there is a child concealed — who wants to play.” For instance, Worldwide Pillow Fight Day (or International Pillow Fight Day) was a pillow fight flashmob that occurred on March 22, 2008. More than 25 cities around the globe participated in the first international Flashmob, the world's largest to date.

In Yerevan, Flashmob history started in March 2007 when Sksel e, an informal group of civil society activists aiming to bring youth to action in time for the May parliamentary election, organized Armenia’s first Flashmob ever, aimed at encouraging the population to read newspapers.

Near Yerevan’s Opera House, each participant stood with a paper as they read separate articles of their choice aloud. They also wore hats made out of newspapers and stood under banners that asked “Shall We Read?” The sight and sound of that alone was surreal and unexpected for Armenia even in this day and age.

Later in Armenia, various Flashmobs were initiated by groups of youth activists. One newly formed youth movement is the Armenian Flashmob Division. In February 2010, they opened a Flashmob social group on Facebook, with the goal of creating a resource for available information on all previous and current Flashmobs organized in the country. Their website soon followed. So far the group has organized three Flashmobs — one dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, another dedicated to reading, and a third on the environmental future of Lake Sevan.

For some, these Flashmobs serve a very important purpose. Hayk Melkonyan, one of the co-founders of Armenian Flashmob Division, summed up the purpose: “Though Flashmobs are [thought] to be pointless, absurd, with the aim of surprising, we try to convey some sense through our Flashmobs, as the Armenian youth tends to discover meaning in any action. Thus, we may invite more and more participants to join.”

The group also has a fourth flashmob planned. Titled “Applause,” this event aims to invite people to pay tribute to their life’s achievements. The meaning does inspire hope.

“Armenians, in fact, really have many achievements worth applauding,” Hayk proudly said.

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