Warren Wilson College study visit to Armenia
In mid-May a group of students with two instructors from Warren Wilson College arrived in Armenia for a two week study visit aiming at learning about our country, its environment and adventure tourism. Warren Wilson College in North Carolina is known for its environmental efforts. The campus recycles more than 50 percent of its waste, uses mostly foods grown at their on-campus farm and constructs campus buildings to meet LEED standards.
During the short visit to Armenia the group managed to visit Goris, Tatev monastry, Satan’s bridge. Explored Vayots dzor region – Jermuk, organized cultural activities in Herher village, visited Arpa river familiarizing with the environmental situation of the river. Armenian Tree Project hosted the WWC group at Environmental Education Center. The group also hiked to Mt. Aragats.
The last two days were spent in Yerevan, exploring the city, including the Opera, museums and other cultural sites.
As one of the students mentioned. – “American hospitality is 1/5 compared to Armenian”. The students have a few wishes for the future of Armenia, including that Armenian people will continue to have the opportunity to explore and appreciate all of the natural beauty here and take care to keep rivers and mountains clean from trash. We are glad the group is leaving Armenia with nice impressions and hope for the future. We are pleased for the opportunity to cooperate with the group from Warren Wilson College and we would be glad to host them again.
The Program Continues to Change Lives of Alumni
The JFDP program in Armenia may have ended, but is having a lasting impact on the lives of alumni and future generations. JFDP alumni Ani Manukyan and Armen Mkrtchyan welcomed their first child in early 2015 and Armen shares their story here:
“I never believed in miracles, especially related to professional programs. When I applied for the JFDP program for the first time, then second and then third year, my main purpose was to develop professionally, the only goal was to familiarize myself with the American higher educational system”. However, he gained more than professional skills when, after returning to Armenia in 2012, American Councils Armenian invited Armen to share his experience with new JFDP fellows during their pre-departure orientation. “The main intention was to be helpful with good advice and share my own experience,” Armen says, but soon after Ani returned from the US, they met for the second time at an alumni event. “The magic of this miracle is that it happened suddenly and unexpectedly,” Armen says. “We met and understood that the program provided us with the opportunity to get to know each other, understand, love and respect each other. And now on March 13th our baby Anahit was born. We call her “found dream”. I am incredibly happy that JFDP gave me not only an opportunity for professional development, but also granted family and child”.
Congratulations to Ani, Armen and Anahit!
eTemp mentor site visit: Lavazza Cafe
In Armenia, #USGalumni come together to grow businesses and develop capacity of #FLEXalumni in the scopes of the Exchanges to Entrepreneurship Mentoring Program (eTemp).
For the last 10 months, 20 pairs of mentors and mentees have been collaborating with each other, aiming to promote startup entrepreneurship in Armenia.
Armenuhi Khachatryan, 2007 alumna of JFDP program, hosted FLEX alumni mentoring participants in her café Lavazza Espression Opera on March 21 to share her experience on starting and managing a business. Armenuhi inspired mentees by telling how she started her own catering company with only $200 and answered to questions on various aspects of running a company and effective leadership. Mentees asked questions like “what is more preferable, franchising a famous brand or creating your own one?” and “how do you recruit employees, what are the characteristics you pay attention to?”
In the end, Armenuhi spoke about the importance of mentorship and mentioned several important arguments to have a mentor. One example was the help of a mentor in building a business network for the mentee. We will expand the mentoring program in 2015 giving more FLEX alumni the wonderful opportunity of having a skilled and experienced mentor, that will help them with guide them through their career and education.
Thank you Armenuhi for hosting us and sharing your experience with the mentees!
FLEX Participant Lusine Poghosyan is pursuing her Dream
In March 2014, after spending one year trying hard and taking FLEX exams a high school student from a beautiful and small village Tatev got the long expected call: Congratulations, you’ve been selected as a finalist for FLEX!
Here what Lusine Poghosyan wrote about her experience in her blog: “When I got to the country for which I was struggling for 2 years, I felt really happy at that moment. Seeing so many strangers with balloons, posters and presents welcoming me was strange but very pleasant. Later those strange people living over the ocean became my real family. And here my “FLEXcited” life started.I remember that my parents were not “OK “ with the fact that I wanted to go live in America with people I don’t know and call them “mom” and “dad “. But now, they are proud of me because I make decisions by myself, I do everything alone and they see how fast I have become an adult.At first I had a strange feeling- We leave everything that we had for 15 or 16 years for going somewhere we have never been before. We become a part of a family we never talked to before. I know that I WILL MISS EVERYTHING and sometimes the only thing that I want to do is to close my eyes for one minute, save every face, every voice, everything that I see or listen to because I WILL MISS AMERICA.
But what does it mean to be an exchange student? Sometimes, you are very proud of yourself because you said a long sentence without any faults and then the person you talk didn’t get the sense.
So why are we doing this? We always want to discover a new country; we want to find out if we are able to live in another country, where another language is spoken. We have to try to become a part of a community and to introduce ourselves in it. That’s not always easy. You start thinking about who you are: you become more responsible and independent. You also think about your home country and try to start appreciate the things which were normal to you in your home country and which you don’t have anymore.
Lusine says, “Exchange is everything. And exchange is something you can’t understand unless you’ve been through it”.
We look forward to hearing more from Lusine when she returns to Armenia this summer.