AGBU SUMMER INTERN PROGRAM 2008 IN ARMENIA

For the second year, Armenian General Benevolent Union’s (AGBU) summer intern program for the Diasporan-Armenian youth took place in Armenia from June 28 to August 2, 2008. 18 students from the United States of America, Australia, Syria, Switzerland, Canada and Russia participated in AGBU’s summer internship program in Armenia. The Diasporan-Armenian youth worked in different NGOs, banks, health establishments, including “Converse” Bank, Epygi Labs, Women’s Resource Center NGO, Tumo Graphic Design Studio, the offices of the RA Ombudsman and the UNDP in Armenia, “Future is Yours”, American University of Armenia, “Ararat” Strategic Research Center, #2 hospital of Yerevan, Shoghakat TV Company, Kevorkian Gallery, Armenian Development Agency, Yerevan State Medical University Hospital, and Gafesjian Museum Foundation. Besides gaining professional experience the students also participated in a number of educational and cultural events. They were also involved in classes of Armenian language, folk dances and Armenian cuisine. The Armenian language classes were organized at the American University of Armenia, which also provided the YSIP participants with an opportunity to get acquainted with the AUA programs, with prospects of distant learning and exchange programs. The Armenian dance classes were organized at the Nork Youth Center. The preparation of various Armenian traditional dishes was entrusted to chef Gohar. The whole course of Armenian cuisine ended with a festive evening supper. To enrich their knowledge of Armenian history a special lecture was delivered for them by Dr. Armen Ayvazian, Director of the Ararat Strategic Research Center. The Interns also visited the Tsitsernakabert Memorial to pay homage to the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide, and got acquainted with the materials of the Genocide Museum presented by Director Hayk Demoyan, who also spoke about the newly-found documents proving that Genocide really happened. During their stay in Armenia the participants of the program made sightseeing trips across the country getting acquainted with the cultural and historical monuments of Armenia. They also visited Artsakh, where they met with the NKR Parliament Speaker Ashot Ghulyan. The Interns visited Gandzasar and Shushi, and, accompanied by AGBU Artsakh Projects Coordinator Sassoun Baghdassarian, got acquainted with the AGBU projects carried out in Karabakh. The visits to Yerevan Museums, Garni, Geghard, Etchmiadzin, Ashtarak, Oshakan, Sevan and Dilijan were very cognitive and educative. The group was present at Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of Madame Butterfly at the Yerevan Opera House. The final reception took place at the Yerevan Museum of Folk Art, which was attended by the YSI program participants, their immediate supervisors, coordinators, AGBU Armenian Representation officials, and other guests. The supervisors highly estimated AGBU’s Diasporan-Armenian youth summer program in Armenia and its mission. Some of them highly praised the work done by some of the Interns. RA Ombudsman Armen Harutyunian mentioned Russian-Armenian Gor Sahakian’s and Anna Kalashian’s high sense of responsibility. Director of “Future is Yours” NGO Narine Sarkissian in her turn praised the devotion of Ani Demirjian and Seda Bayramian in teaching English to the orphans. As a result, now, after a month’s course, the orphans are greeting the foreign guests of the orphanage. Speaking about their experience and sharing their impressions about the project after the reception the YSIP participants said: “I have a new sense of what it means to be Armenian. I saw Armenia from a new perspective. AGBU YSIP allowed me to live and work in Armenia and for the first time really feel what it means to be Armenian; not Diasporan Armenian, Western Armenian nor Armenian-American; just Armenian”, said Vatche Jabagchourian. Asked how the summer affected her feelings about her Armenian identity, Seta Bairamian wrote: “I feel empowered and connected to [my Armenian identity]. I feel inspired to further explore my heritage.” “I will seek out more Armenian activities at home and would like to return one day. Becoming conversational in Armenian has become a goal of mine as well now”, Adrina DeVitre said. “I am truly glad that I took part in this program and truly know what it means to be an Armenian. Five weeks had a huge impact on my life”, said Annie Demirjian “It was an unforgettable experience that no doubt makes me prouder to be Armenian. I think that the program meets its mission in developing and instilling a sense of heritage in Diasporan Armenians”, said Andrew Batmanian. Armenia’s H1 Public Television and Shoghakat TV Company shot different episodes of the Interns’ activities with a goal to prepare a film in the future. This AGBU program that combines pleasure and usefulness was coordinated by Hasmik Khalapian, AGBU Armenian Representation Educational Projects Coordinator.

 
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