PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE WHILE EXPLORING THEIR HERITAGE (VIDEO MATERIAL)

8th AGBU Yerevan Summer Internship Program

For the last 8 years, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) has organized the Yerevan Summer Internship Program, where students of Armenian descent from all around the world have been able to gain hands on experience in their chosen fields as well as discover their roots and explore their Homeland shape the future of both Armenia and their local communities. Over the years, this program has given over 200 students the opportunity to realize their potential, understand their own history and heritage while at the same time make an important contribution, identify their own abilities and most importantly strengthen their ties with the Homeland. This year the AGBU Yerevan Summer Internship Program (YSIP) hosted 20 students from the USA, Russia, Lebanon, Syria, Bulgaria and Austria. For six consecutive weeks they lived as an Armenian in Yerevan seeing the highlights and the low points of life in the capital. In addition to their daily work schedules, the program also included Armenian language and Armenian traditional dance classes, weekend trips outside Yerevan, evening strolls in the capital and most importantly a 4 day trip to Artsakh. “Every Armenian should visit Armenia, not only Yerevan, but all of the regions of Armenia and Artsakh. If someone stays away from his roots, he cannot be a creative person, as creativity is the most important purpose in life. This program is enthralling yet troubling. You feel enthusiastic during the first week, for the second and third weeks you feel concerned about what can be done to overcome the difficulties locals are faced with on a daily basis, how you can use your knowledge and do your best to be helpful to your Homeland.” said one of the program participants Meghrik Hayitian from Austria. This year, participants of the program were hosted by such renowned organizations as the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF), RA Ministry of Diaspora, the Women’s Resource Center, Malayan’s Eye Care Center, “Arabkir” Medical Center, Deem Communications, Byblos Bank, Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, “Storaket” Architectural Studio, Armenian Monuments Awareness Project (AMAP), Armenian-British Business Chamber, USAID, One Armenia, National Instruments and other leading companies. Speaking about the program, Elvira Meliksetyan representative of the Women’s Resource Center mentioned” It is not the first time that we cooperate with AGBU, and we are always very glad to have an AGBU Intern, as we always have very active, organized and smart young interns, working with whom is productive not only for us but for them as well. We have organized theatrical performance together, participated in various campaigns. Their participation adds more creativity than technique to these campaigns.” As part of the program, the group also visited Artsakh, learned about the history and cultural monuments of Artakh, met the Chairman of NKR National Assembly Ashot Ghulyan and NKR Foreign Affairs Minister Karen Mirzoyan. Program participants also visited Shoushi, and spent an unforgettable day discovering the hidden treasure of the beautiful city. In Yerevan they were able to enjoy both classical Armenian cultural events such as a performance of “Anoush” opera as well as a contemporary performance by Vahe Berberyan. Usually the first and most binding thing that all the participants have in common is their Armenian roots. However, this year this common ground did not apply to everyone. For the first time this year, YSIP had a participant who did not have an Armenia background. Tessa Khroen a dutch student from Leiden University. “I study the history and culture of the Middle East and Russia in Leiden University of Holland. Armenia and countries of former Soviet Union in general are of particular interest to me. But it’s hard in Holland to find good sources of study, that’s why I decided to visit Armenia and see everything with my eyes. Here you understand what it means to be a small nation, how a small nation can survive. Here you understand how powerful language and religion are. ” said Tresa. This program allowed the participants to improve their language skills by incorporating twice weekly Armenian Language classes at the Armenian Virtual College (AVC) and traditional dance classes at the AGBU and Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Nork Children’s Center. Following the classes the participants showcased their talents during their final performance for the students of the Children’s Center. “They were very enthusiastic and passed all their enthusiasm to everyone in the hall. They learnt with pleasure and it was also a pleasure for me to teach them. I think everyone is satisfied. Everything concerning Armenia and Armenians are very interesting and encouraging for them. I think that we also have a lot of things to learn from them. Living in Armenia, we do not feel and appreciate all that enthusiasm, love and devotion towards the Homeland, as they do. It is a strong feeling and we also have to love and protect that feeling.” said choreographer and deputy director of the Children’s Center Marianna Ter-Avagyan after the concert. A new element was included in YSIP for the first time this summer. The participants were able to take a trip to the Turkish Armenian border from where they were able to admire the ruins of the ancient city of Ani and historic Armenian lands. It was a very moving experience for the group. They also visited a number of villages where development programs are carried out by the Children of Armenia Fund. The program ended with a formal cocktail reception during which the supervisors and the interns mingled and shared their impressions of the 6 week program. The program was established in 2007 and has hosted over 200 students from 12 countries around the world. It is coordinated in Armenia by YSIP Associate Director Anna Aghajanian.

 

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