This summer, a new three-month course at Gyumri Information Technology Center (GTech), has allowed a special group of 12 children between the ages of 11 and 17 to further their interest in IT by enabling them to delve deeper into apps and software.

The class, which began in July and meets twice a week, is sponsored by the Gyumri Without Makeshift Shelters Foundation Program, an NGO that aims to help those who lost their homes in the 1988 earthquake.

The course, which is free, is offered to the children previously living in wooden domiks, or temporary shelters, with their families after their homes were destroyed. They’ve since moved into a new building constructed with support from Gyumri Without Makeshift Shelters. Many of the course instructors are former GTech students.

Twin brothers Albert and Hrach Atashyan, 12, have grown up with the Internet and smartphones, and they are adept at interacting with digital technology. Yet, this alone will not manage to usher them along the career path they want.

“The children can chat or play games via computer, however that won’t make them fluent,” said course instructor Gohar Hovhannisyan, a student herself at the Microsoft Innovation Center in Gyumri. Hovhannisyan is currently learning programming techniques, software and coding and is excited to have a second specialty in IT. (She already holds a bachelor’s in international relations.) She is sure that the training will have a life-changing impact on these kids. “The training is not meant to create a generation of programmers,” she said, even though she would be happy if that were to happen. “It is meant to open a gateway to broader learning which can be applicable to any profession in the future.”

“I want to become a programmer in the future. This is my lifetime dream,” said Hrach. “When I learned about the free course I immediately rushed to apply for the program.” When asked about outdoor activities versus indoor activities over the summer, he thought a bit and smiled, “I like playing football with my peers but first and foremost it’s computer programming that makes me feel satisfied.”