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Artsakh students benefit from AFA summer humanities program

July 25, 2011
Contact: Sarah Ludwig

Students make a presentation as part of AFA program.
Students make a presentation as part of AFA program.
Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh - Americans for Artsakh (AfA) has successful completed its first summer humanities program for university students. Participants gathered together in Stepanakert from Artsakh State University, Mesrob Mashtots University, and Yerevan State University for a special two-week intensive academic course that offered classes in a range of social science-related subjects.

The program was sponsored by the Armenian General Benevolent Union and took place at Mesrob Mashtots University and the VITA Center.

Academic Coordinator Asbed Kotchikian, as well as local coordinators Arshak Balayan, Hamazasp Danielyan, and Gayane Vardanyan brought together leading scholars from Armenia, the United States, and Canada for this unique pilot program. Courses were taught in political science methodology, anthropology, gender studies, and other related subjects. In addition, visiting specialists gave lectures in media, art and art theory, civil society, Armenia-Diaspora relations, and conflict resolution. Local representatives from the Halo Trust landmine removal organization, the Armenian Relief Society, and the Naregatsi Art Institute provided overviews of their programs in Artsakh.

Beyond the theoretical aspects of the program, workshops were held in résumé and application writing, social networking, and other practical skill-building techniques. At the end of the program, the students were divided into four groups and gave presentations on select topics, after which they were challenged in question and answer sessions about the details of their work.

The students' final evaluations indicated great satisfaction with the program as a whole, and especially with the instructors. Several participants noted that they wished the course had been longer and hope that similar projects will be organized in the future. "The program was very useful and we learned a lot," remarked Astghik Baldryan, a participant from Armenia. "We could not have imagined a better organized and implemented curriculum." Nare Avagyan, a participant from Artsakh, said that "The instructors were excellent, and I hope more of my classmates will participate next time."

Students and faculty also had opportunities to socialize outside the classroom. The group organized excursions to the village of Khndzoresk, as well as Tatev Monastery in Southern Armenia, and were able to experience Tatev's new aerial tramway. Towards the end of the program, students had an opportunity to meet with participants of previous AfA projects to share their experiences and discuss ideas for further cooperation.

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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