Lucy Bichakchyan, a junior E&C student, is the founder of Anstoragir. Anstoragir is a Youth Organization based in Yerevan, Armenia and its ultimate purpose is to encourage civic participation and to give young unprofessionals a professional experience in media and communications, journalism, photography, editing, and directing.
Anstoragir started as a blog on Tumblr to give the youth freedom of speech but later on Lucy realized the true potential of Anstoragir and created the organization. The blog had started around a year ago, Bichakhchyan could not give us an exact date saying, “The blog started so slow and so low that I cannot remember when it really started. The blog went viral very rapidly and jumped from 20 followers to 120 in around 6 months ago, and that was the peak of our popularity on Tumblr.” Lucy was very proud to announce that Anstoragir is the most followed Armenian account on Tumblr.
Ms. Bichakhchyan says she is successful because of supportive friends and their advice. “In the beginning I had to get advice from a lot of people who were experienced in this field, a lot of people also said that this would not work, but then I had friends who would support me even if I wanted to go jump off a cliff. It’s because of them that I am here today.” Lusine Simonyan, Lilit Ayvazyan, and Vardan Janazyan are a few of the friends that Lucy mentions. They were participants at first, but now are members of the organization. They are the closest people to her, they organize and go to all the events together, decide everything together.
“Every project organized by Anstoragir has been successful, we never did a project where we had a huge possibility of failing. So far we have done a few that we are really proud of, like Elegantmurackan, which is a lifestyle blog. Now lifestyle is usually associated with glamour but Elegantmurackan has nothing to do with glamour. It is basically a fictional character that travels the world and does not do anything extravagant. There is no he or she, it is whatever you want it to be. It has been to Georgia, Moscow, the United States, and is currently in Yerevan, I think it will travel the rest of the world soon too. .”
Anstoragir wants the youth of Yerevan to come up to them and suggest different kinds of projects for them. “It is either people coming to us and suggesting ideas, not knowing how to make it real, so we help them in making that idea become real or we think of a project that we would like to do together.” Lucy had also mentioned that she would love for more people to come up to them with more suggestions. Recently, Anstoragir in cooperation with Elegantmurackan had a public fundraising event at Plato cafe. They gathered money and clothing to that was later donated to people in need in Gyumri.
Lucy comments that what she really loves about her team is that they do not really have an agenda. “We are really flexible and can manage to make things work quickly.” This was shown during the workshops that Anstoragir had organized in Dilijan, Tsaghkadzor, and Armavir. “The workshop is absolutely flexible depending on where we go. It was about Media and Communications, we shared our experience about social media and photography.”
All the submissions that have been given to Anstoragir so far have been posted. “People always ask me if their submissions sound offensive, I say that if it is what they feel and want to say then it is OK. There has been an offensive submission that was directed to me but I just had to post it because I support freedom of speech and this person wrote what truly felt about me.”
One of the most important messages that Lucy wants to share is that you need the inner power to be able to overcome anything that comes your way. “When reading the submission that was directed to me, I did not get offended. They said in the post that I think so highly of myself. But hey, you know what, yeah I am all these things and I do matter because I am an individual. The last sentence in the submission said, “I know you will not post this but I am just going to put it out there.” I posted it firstly, because I support freedom of speech, and second, to show my strength. You will always be hated by other people no matter how perfect you are, it just depends on whether you can overcome that hate and move on or not. This is a big issue with our generation and I want the youth to think twice before posting anything because many people get really offended and sometimes it can even lead to a suicide. Please, think twice before posting and saying anything hateful and offensive to someone.”
If you have a suggestion for a project for Anstoragir, you can find them on any of their social media accounts, or on www.anstoragir.com. (submission can be posted anonymously if you want to).