Students from AGBU schools around the world spend part of their summer holidays in their homeland. This summer, between June-August, 30 students from the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian School in Pasadena, 65 tenth and eleventh graders from the Manoogian-Demirdjian School in Canoga Park, 22 pupils of the Marie Manoogian School in Buenos Aires and 5 students of the Noubarian School in Montevideo visited Armenia. These visits connect students to their homeland in a way that classrooms cannot. It provides them the opportunity to see, feel and explore what they have learned and heard from their parents, grandparents and teachers. During their 10-12-day visits, the students, together with their teacher-chaperones, visited museums, historic sites, and attended various cultural events. They visited AGBU Armenia and met with leadership and staff. AGBU Armenian Virtual College (AVC) staff introduced them to AVC and the students enthusiastically participated in an AVC-organized competition: split into teams, they challenged their knowledge about Armenian music, literature, film and more. Each of the visiting schools were invited to a performance by the students of the AGBU and Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Children’s Center in Nork. The visiting students and teachers also had the opportunity to purchase paintings and other handicrafts created by the talented children of the Children’s Center. Pupils from the Marie Manoogian School donated art supplies to the Nork Children’s Center. At the request of the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian School administration, visits were organized to AUA, Marie Izmirlian Orphanage, Soup Kitchens funded by AGBU and the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, and the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies. At AUA, pupils were introduced to the new undergraduate program at AUA and visited the Papazian Library, recently renovated by AGBU. At Tumo, the students took some classes with their peers and participated in a friendly basketball competition with Tumo students. Perhaps the most exciting and moving part of their trip was a visit to the Marie Izmirlian orphanage, where they met the children, gave them presents and promised to stay in touch with them. AGBU students visited the AGBU and Mother See Soup Kitchen where they served the daily meal for the elderly. On July 21, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, met with graduates from the AGBU Marie Manoogian School in Buenos Aires. They were accompanied by Abbot Maghakia Amirian of the St. Grigor Lusavorich Church in Buenos Aires. The Catholicos emphasized the importance of pilgrimages which provide opportunities to explore, understand and learn more about our homeland and help preserve and strengthen the Armenian spirit in Diasporan youth. His Holiness thanked parents and teachers for their efforts in raising proud young adults with national traditions, values and faith in their homeland. The Catholicos and students took part in an interesting question and answer session. Five eleventh graders from the AGBU Noubarian School in Montevideo, Uruguay visited Armenia between August 8-21. In addition to exploring Armenia, the students participated in the 6th pan-Armenian Olympiad on Armenian Studies, jointly organized by the RA Ministry of Education and Science and the RA Ministry of Diaspora’s Ari Tun (Come Home) program. On August 9, 150 students from 8 countries participated in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympiad, held at Yerevan’s Arno Babajanian Concert Hall. The Olympiad was held between August 9-15, in Tsakhkadzor. The Olympiad is designed for Diasporan students at Armenian schools. Specifically, it aims to: motivate and encourage students to improve their knowledge of Armenian language, literature, history and culture; provide them an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and creative talents in an healthy, competitive environment; and acknowledge gifted young people. This year, for the first time, the Olympiad included a competition on the history of the Armenian Church. This contest was under the direct sponsorship and assistance of the Holy Etchmiadzin Christian Education Center. Sofia Montibeller, a student of the AGBU Noubarian School, received a special certificate for her participation in the contest on Armenian Church History. Other participating students from the AGBU Noubarian School included: Jorge Guinosian, Camila Yerkatagordzian, Nicole Jame and Candella Bueno. AGBU Noubarian School students took part in the RA Ministry of Diaspora’s Ari Tun program. Within the framework of this program, and chaperoned by Anush Hakobyan, their school’s Armenian language instructor, students visited cultural and historic sites in Armenia and enjoyed the cultural life of their motherland. Students became acquainted with AGBU activities in Armenia through their visits to Armenian Virtual College and the AGBU Armenia Representation office.

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