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Americans for Artsakh Extends Leadership Program to Youth

February 11, 2010
Contact: Sarah Ludwig

Following a series of successful government training programs, Americans for Artsakh has just completed the first in what will be an annual series of youth leadership programs in Artsakh. AFA brought an outstanding team of experienced trainers to Stepanakert and Shushi to provide valuable leadership skills to the most gifted and motivated university students in the area. Students were selected from a range of local tertiary-level institutions, and training space was generously provided by Artsakh State University and the Naregatsi Art Institute in Shushi.

The course provided leadership, negotiation, and cognitive effectiveness (or "lateral thinking") training, based on methodology developed at the Harvard University/Mercy Corps Conflict Management Group. The material focused on using the ideas of prominent authors to bring these concepts, vital to success in the modern world, to the area. A total of 30 students received an intensive (eight hours a day), eight-day training session that was broken up into four components based on which author was being presented at a given time. Each of the trainers — Arshak Balayan, Tigran Bertizyan, Hamazasp Danielyan, and Gayane Vardanyan — taught one section of the course. Class activities included games, role plays, and various types of team-building exercises that helped reinforce the ideas and foster a sense of camaraderie among the group. In addition to the course itself, the team was featured on a national television show based in Shushi.

Although the training team has conducted similar projects in other parts of the Armenian world, they had a unique experience in Artsakh. Upon completion of the course, team leader Balayan commented, "People in Artsakh need us. They really need what we teach and I feel that I am doing more than I have done teaching two years in Yerevan." Participant Alexander Badalov concurred. "This is the first long-term youth training ever organized in Artsakh... I am impressed. I hope [the trainers] will be back for more."

Since AFA began organizing training courses in 2008, most of the trainers have taken note of the great need in the area and deep appreciation that they receive from the beneficiaries in Artsakh. Because of its unrecognized political status and comparative lack of aid it receives, Artsakh's particular disadvantage affects its ability to implement programs such as these. As a result, the enthusiasm of the participants, penetration into the local population and overall impact are far greater than in many other places.

AFA plans to continue its training courses at both the government and university level, and also offer more subject-specific courses to students and professionals in Artsakh.

Americans for Artsakh is a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization established to preserve freedom, strengthen democracy, foster economic development, protect the cultural identity and promote the heritage of the people of Artsakh.

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