Between February 21-23, AGBU Armenia Director Arpi Vartanian visited the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR) to meet with officials and become better acquainted with AGBU programs there. She was accompanied by Sassoun Baghdassarian, AGBU's NKR Program Coordinator. On February 21, Vartanian visited Schools #3 and #7 in Stepanakert. She had the opportunity to witness first-hand the use of the XO laptops which children throughout Stepanakert, Shushi and Karintak are using in schools. The One Laptop Per Child program, launched in 2011, provides laptop computers to elementary schoolchildren. The innovative technology program, called the New Education Strategy (NUR) is implemented by the Fruitful Armenia Fund, in partnership with AGBU's on-the-ground support. Children, teachers, and even family members are benefiting from learning how to use the computers. With internet access at schools and throughout the city, new worlds have opened up for the children. Throughout her visit, students, teachers, parents and government officials commented on the benefits of the program. Later that day, Vartanian met with NKR President Bako Sahakyan. They discussed AGBU current and future programs. In particular, AGBU's latest project - the AGBU NKR Campus - was discussed. Vartanian noted that plans are underway to get the Campus operational as soon as possible. To that end, AGBU has invited the American University of Armenia, through its Extension Program, to begin operations before the Campus building is completed. So that NKR's population receives the maximum benefit, this part of the program will begin soon and will temporarily be housed in a location designated by the government. President Sahakyan expressed his highest regard for AGBU's role in the development and prosperity of our homeland and stressed the importance of this educational project. He looks forward to seeing it begin as soon as possible and expressed his support of the initiative. Vartanian met with Chairman of the NKR National Assembly Ashot Ghoulian. She briefed the Chairman on the status of the AGBU NKR Campus. The Chairman expressed his strong support for the project. He and Vartanian discussed other opportunities for future collaboration. On February 22, Vartanian attended the rehearsal of the Karabakh Chamber Orchestra (KCO), where she had an opportunity to meet the musicians, the youngest of whom are just 16 years old. Since its establishment, and under the capable leadership of Maestro Gevork Mouradyan, KCO has revitalized the cultural life of Stepanakert. Today, only 5 of the 16 musicians are from Armenia. Orchestra members contribute to developing the talent of Karabakh’s youth. The concert hall is packed for each performance and the entire population looks forward to the concerts. With Mouradyan, and KCO Director Simon Sargsyan, Vartanian discussed some of the challenges facing the orchestra. The orchestra was founded in 2004 at the request of former NKR President Arkady Ghoukassian, who approached AGBU to sponsor the project. AGBU proudly continues to sponsor this wonderful initiative. Later, Vartanian met with Minister of Culture Narine Aghabalyan in Shushi, where the Ministry recently relocated. The Minister emphasized KCO's impact on the cultural life of Karabakh and KCO's upcoming visit to Moscow to perform on April 24. Minister Aghbalyan and Vartanian discussed the challenges facing the Ministry and possible areas of cooperation, such as within the parameters of the AGBU NKR Campus. Vartanian met with Minister of Education Slava Asrian. Challenges facing the educational sector were discussed. Vartanian updated the Minister on the AGBU NKR Campus. He welcomed the new educational and cultural opportunities that will be provided for the people of Karabakh. During a meeting with NKR Prime Minister Ara Harutyunyan and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Aghabekian, issues and details pertaining to the AGBU NKR Campus were discussed. The Prime Minister specifically underscored the high regard in which he holds this new initiative, and his belief that it will be of great benefit to the people, and future, of Karabakh. Before returning to Yerevan, Vartanian met with Sergey Shahverdian, Head of the NKR Tourism Department. Shahverdian presented the accomplishments of the tourism department, as well as the challenges facing tourism development in NKR.


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