The city of Paris adopts an Armenian original
By Anouch Dzagoyan
Great ideas have a way of transcending borders regardless of their origin. This fall, Armenia’s very own TUMO Center for Creative Technologies gathered the momentum to do just that with the opening of the first TUMO Paris. It was a dream come true for its mayor Anne Hildago and a seminal moment for modern-day Armenia, as its most original intellectual property was adopted by one of the most advanced capitals of the Western world.
The genesis of TUMO Paris was indeed serendipitous. In 2016, Mayor Hildalgo visited Armenia. While TUMO Yerevan was not on her official itinerary, members of her entourage urged her to take a detour. It was a decision she would never regret. According to sources close to her, Hildago was impressed not only by the concept behind TUMO but by its implementation. She was also struck by the competence and dedication of the teaching staff and their confidence in the students to excel as digital innovators. “No system of this magnitude and ambition exists in the world,” the mayor remarked, adding that she was determined to offer the same opportunity to new generations of Parisians.
The first step was finding the appropriate space and location. Forum des Images, a city institution dedicated to cinematography and known for its 30-years as a digital pioneer was the obvious choice. Faithful to its spirit of innovation, it embraced the TUMO model of education with open arms. The next question, however, was how to raise the funds to accommodate teenagers from 12 to 18 years old at a rate of 2 to 4 hours per week, free of charge. The answer arrived one year later at a Web Summit in Lisbon, when Paris was elected a European Capital of Innovation city. It pledged to use the million euros award to establish TUMO Paris, working with Paris City Hall to open the center by September 2018. This was an ambitious goal, given all the renovations involved (training rooms, film screening space and equipment) and convincing 70 employees on both teams to bring the project to fruition within the allocated budget.
Right on schedule, TUMO Paris opened its doors to accommodate a potential 4,000 young people from Paris and Greater Paris, including 1,500 youth taking the complete course and 2,500 taking introductory modules.
One month later, on October 16, AGBU France organized a private celebratory dinner in the Salons of Petrossian restaurant, attended by the Mayor of Paris, the Mayor of Yerevan Hayk Marutian, Her Excellency Hasmik Tolmajian, ambassador of Armenia in France, and the founders of TUMO Sam and Sylva Simonian. It was also an opportunity for the Mayor of Paris to meet her Yerevan counterpart to affirm mutual cooperation between the two cities. The Armenian Minister of Education and Science Arayik Harutyunyan also attended to reinforce the importance of the Franco-Armenian relationship in education. Many distinguished members of the local Armenian community were also present, from musicians and actors to journalists, politicians and members of the AGBU.
The TUMO centers of Paris, Yerevan, Gyumri, Stepanakert and Dilijan will now be inextricably linked to facilitate the free exchange of creative ideas that will foster fraternity, solidarity and innovation.