The AGBU Moscow Summer Internship Program (MSIP) officially came to an end last month with a celebratory, and emotional, farewell dinner, where the program's coordinators, interns and supervisors looked back on an unforgettable summer spent living and working in Russia. On July 31, the six MSIP interns gathered to say their final goodbyes, embracing now life-long friends who, just six weeks earlier, were complete strangers. Though the tight-knit group was sad to part ways, they are returning to their homes around the world - in Armenia, Bulgaria, Canada, France, the UK and the US - armed with professional experiences that are sure to help them advance in their respective careers after they graduate. As it has every summer since its 2010 launch, MSIP placed this year's participants within Russia's top institutions, where they explored their diverse interests, from the fine arts to finance and medicine to magazine publishing. Host organizations included the Association of Restorers of Andrey Anisimov, the Association of Russian Banks, the Moscow Diagnostics Center and Cigar Clan Magazine. At each, they learned all facets of the industry, building their professional skills and their resumes. Internship supervisor Anna Grebenkina of the SKOLKOVO School of Management praised the program, noting that it "brings lots of value to both parties - interns willing to implement their knowledge and gain some practical experience in a company, and employees ready to invest their time and efforts in order to help young professionals take their first steps on the business ground." The interns' days in the office were complemented by various evenings spent meeting with successful entrepreneurs who have made a name for themselves both within the local Armenian diaspora community and internationally. They included Mr. Grachik Adzhamian, whose startup company, Budist, has been recognized by Forbes Russia, as well as Mr. Aram Pakhchanian, the vice president of the global software firm ABBYY and the co-founder of AyB, a foundation that is investing significantly in Armenia's education system. At many of the meetings, the MSIP interns were joined by members of SIVAM, AGBU's partner in Russia, which has played an indispensable role in MSIP's continuous growth. SIVAM members are by the MSIP interns' sides from the day they arrive to the day they depart. SIVAM volunteer Tigran Begijanyan stated, "For the third year in a row, we saw that MSIP cannot be anything but positive. Each year, the program's membership grows, through participants and volunteers alike, proving that Armenians from different countries are united by common interests and goals. The program brings together Armenians of different backgrounds from all over the world, creating bonds between them that we know will only continue to grow stronger." Cultural immersion is a key component of MSIP, and at classes twice a week, the interns sharpened both their Russian language skills and their Armenian dance steps. The summer's greatest highlight, however, was a mid-summer trip to St. Petersburg, which has become an annual program tradition. The group explored all the city's national treasures, starting with the Peterhof Summer Palace and continuing to the world-renowned Russian and Hermitage Museums, St. Isaac's Cathedral and the historic Peter and Paul Fortress. For intern Tatevik Sargsyan, a student at the London College of Law, the trip was just one of the many elements that made her AGBU experience so extraordinary. As she reflected, "MSIP has allowed me to deeply understand the meaning of being Armenian. The opportunity to experience the thrillingly modern and exciting Russia, to get to know amazing young Armenian professionals living in Moscow, to gain valuable career experiences and to make life-long friends who share with me a deep sense of pride and passion in their Armenian heritage, are all things that will stay with me forever." The visit to the new Surb Khach Armenian Church being built in Moscow, where they got their hands dirty alongside the construction workers on site, was another unique experience that added to the memories from a life-changing summer.

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