The term Datark Tsrar (Դատարկ Ծրար) may be familiar if you follow social media actively. For those who aren’t native Armenian speakers, the title translates to “Empty Envelope.” It’s a campaign, aiming to combat corruption in Armenia. The campaign team, consisting of current and graduate AUA students, formed during a hackathon which revolved around corruption awareness and how to prevent corruption in higher education.
After winning the Academic Integrity Hackathon organized by the Council of Europe with their influential video, the youthful and active group decided not to stop there. They wanted to take the knowledge and concept from their video and implement that into a larger campaign for the entire population of Armenia to be a part of. The team members participating in the hackathon together and now progressing into the implementation of the campaign are team leader Max Gouchian and teammates – Anush Hokhoyan, Rafayel Shirakyan, Levon Hovhannisyan, Daniel Tahmazyan, and Kalipso Bznuni.
They came together as a group and decided on the name for the campaign Datark Tsrar (empty envelope) which would become the symbol of the entire campaign. “We wanted to create something that could be interesting and serious but at the same time easy to follow and catchy. In short – something that could create the atmosphere of a serious campaign but would also employ humor to spread the message. Hence we came up with the slogan Datark Tsrar,” says Tahmazyan.
Another member, Levon Hovhannisyan, mentions: “The two main inspirations for the project were Adam Smith’s idea that respect and gratitude are great substitutes for money and Finland’s education system, where the idea is implemented to the fullest. Our final goal is to make teachers’ profession a very honorable one, as we think that’s the only way to compensate their low wages (in short-term). The first step toward achieving the goal will be making the education system less corrupt by making academic integrity trendy. This will lead to bigger projects which team prefers to keep a secret for now.”
The team is currently active on their Facebook page, where anyone can await and follow current and upcoming projects. Datark Tsrar aims to share success stories of people who were able to deny or live without corruption, also challenging their friends to share a similar experience. With this method, the large social issue of corruption will reach the Facebook newsfeed of people across the country and spark great interest. If being corrupt was a sign of popularity or privilege back in the day and even nowadays, the team desires to change that dynamic, making anti-corruption the trending topic instead.
The success story videos will include people holding an empty envelope to symbolize the absence of bribes in their lives. The Datark Tsrar team believes that this is a way of keeping society interested in national issues, while at the same time making it interactive for people instead of reading large paragraphs which many commonly avoid. Engaging the society in this issue is a first step towards bringing greater achievements and development for the country.
All photos belong to the Datark Tsrar Team