The tantalizing scent of freshly baked eclairs dance through the halls of Parakar School, enchanting everyone lucky enough to catch a whiff. In the heart of the culinary classroom, 16-year-old Arsen Apiryan and his fellow classmates are on a mission, conjuring up these irresistible treats.
Arsen might have faced the challenges of microcephaly and epilepsy, but he's emerged as an unexpected wizard in the world of pastries and sweets. His journey through the culinary arts program at Parakar's James and Marta Batmasian Vocational Training Center isn't just a personal victory; it's a living testament to the magical transformation that passion and grit can bring about.
His mom, Hasmik Apiryan, fondly recalls the days when getting Arsen to school was an uphill task. "Now, he comes with love," she shares, highlighting the positive wave the culinary arts program has brought into their lives. Despite wrestling with concentration and motoric hurdles, Arsen's progress has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Mariam Hakobyan, Arsen's pedagogue, vividly paints the picture of his evolution. "He was very passive, not socializing, having friends. Now I see how he has changed. He has an understandable speech now. He is calm, balanced," she expresses, radiating joy at his remarkable transformation. “Navigating the complexities of working with children with disabilities can be a challenge, but with Arsen, it's surprisingly smooth because he genuinely loves the class,” she adds with a heartfelt smile.
"I love cooking, especially pizza and desserts. Recently, we made pizza here in the school, and it was very tasty," Arsen chimes in with an infectious smile.
Parakar School for Children and Youth with Special Needs, reborn through the generosity of FAR’s incredible donors Marta and James Batmasian, the Mirak-Weissbach Foundation, and the New York Friends of Gavar Special School, stands tall as a beacon in vocational education training for Armenia’s youth, including those with disabilities. Since the completion of our five-year project that completely reshaped the culture of educating children with disabilities in the school, the number of students enrolled in the culinary arts program and various other skills training programs at Parakar's new James and Marta Batmasian Vocational Training Center has soared. It's a testament to the transformative power of compassion and commitment.