2013 was a year of anniversaries, partnership, and moments in the spotlight for American Councils Armenia. The 20th anniversary of the FLEX program was celebrated throughout the year with a series of high-profile events for alumni and stakeholders including a reception hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan, a speed networking evening, and an outdoor fair. The new, fully-accessible office near Republic Square and updated brand identity were officially debuted at an open house with special presentations by alumni to celebrate American Councils’ 20th year of engagement in Armenia.
Representing both an important anniversary and the theme of partnership, the November 1-3 #FLEX20Tbilisi event organized in collaboration with the Georgia and Azerbaijan field offices made it possible for a 1993-1994 alumnus from each country to stand side by side and reminisce about a party they attended together in 1996! Cooperation among the South Caucasus offices likewise made possible the 4th FLEX-Ability workshop for improving project design and management skills in the sphere of youth development among recent FLEX participants. At a holiday party sponsored by alumni-run businesses, American Councils Armenia marked not only a year of fruitful partnerships for the organization, but also partnerships of a more personal nature. The final JFDP program participant Ani Manukyan announced her engagement–to fellow JFDP alumnus Armen Mkrtchyan!
The presence of American Councils in Armenian media grew this year as national television channels and newspapers ran stories on topics such as Gena Levengood, the first American student to participate in an American Councils Armenia internship program, the visit to Armenia of 9 (of 11!) members of the Syverson family—Arman Vardanyan’s 2012-2013 FLEX host family in the U.S., and record-setting 1,200 visitors who attended the EducationUSA Fair in November.
The spring EducationUSA Alumni Fair and fall EducationUSA Fair were both effective in connecting more than a thousand Armenian students to higher education in the US, while the EducationUSA Competitive College Club literally brought Anna Harutyunyan to the US by preparing her to apply for (and receive) a full scholarship to a US community college. The Competitive College Club continues in Yerevan, while the outreach to the regions goes on through the Student Ambassadors Program, the current cycle of which features even stronger collaboration among Student Ambassadors and Peace Corps Volunteers.
The alumni of American Councils programs achieved great things in 2013, too. In addition to ministry-level meetings with Armenia-bound American Professional Fellows Program supervisors, development projects such as the Voices of Youth alumni grant project for public speaking, alumni implemented countless trainings, presentations, round-tables and other activities. Another highlight includes the recognition of FLEX alumna Hasmik Asatrian as Armenian Young Businesswoman of the Year by the Prime Minister.
In 2013, we bid farewell to long-time staff members Gayane Grigoryan (EducationUSA Adviser), Christina Grigorian (FLEX Coordinator), Anna Hovakimyan (FLEX Alumni Coordinator), and Rubina Arakelyan (Finance Officer) as they advanced in their careers, while welcoming Shushanna Abovyan (EducationUSA Adviser), Alen Shadunts (FLEX Alumni Coordinator), Nazeli Ghazaryan (Finance Officer), and Hripsime Manukyan (Administrative and Logistics Assistant)–and congratulating Rinet Isajyan on her promotion from Administrative and Logistics Assistant to FLEX Coordinator. Also making important contributions to the work of American Councils in Armenia in 2013 were Administrative Intern Arpine Mazhinyan and EducationUSA Intern Nora Yerznkyan.