From June 25-August 5, twenty-one interns from Canada, Russia, Syria, and the United States came together to participate in AGBU’s Yerevan Summer Internship Program (YSIP). For the fifth consecutive year, YSIP has been the premiere venue connecting diasporan Armenian college students with their cultural heritage while providing them with hands-on work experience and a program of cultural, social, and professional activities. Participants develop closer ties with their homeland and a better understanding of their roots, while meeting peers and getting actively involved in everyday life in Armenia.
Participating students spent their summer internships at a number of leading institutions and organizations throughout Yerevan, including ArBes Medical Center, Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art, AZG Armenian Daily, Deem Communications, Global SPC Law and Consulting, Hetq Online, Lragir Online, the Republic of Armenia Finance Ministry, St. Nerses the Great Hospital, Storaket Architectural Studio, United Nations Development Program, and Yerevan Hospitals No. 1 and 8. This year’s AGBU Yerevan Summer Internship Program was supervised by YSIP coordinator Anna Aghajanian and activities coordinator Aline Zorian. The students were housed at a private residence in Yerevan during their six-week stay.
In addition to gaining valuable professional experience, the interns also participated in numerous cultural activities, attended weekly Armenian language and folk dance classes, visited historic monuments, including the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial and Genocide Museum, and got acquainted with the programs carried out by AGBU throughout Armenia and Karabakh. Interns had the opportunity to meet with a number of Armenian political and social figures, including the Republic of Armenia’s Diaspora Minister Hranoush Hakobian,
Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian, and former Foreign Minister of Armenia (and current chairman of the Heritage party and parliament member) Raffi Hovannisian. YSIP participants also met with young Armenian entrepreneurs, including Hayk Vardanyan, the co-founder of Wise Business LLC, and George Tabakian and Talar Kazanjian, two diasporan Armenians who have both moved to their homeland and are currently running successful businesses in the country. The offices of the AGBU Armenian Representation and Armenian Virtual College (AVC) hosted the YSIP participants for an introductory presentation and a video chat with Yervant Zorian, the chairman of the unique online school.
This year’s participants also spent three unforgettable days in Karabakh, touring Stepanakert, Shushi, and Gandzasar. During their time in Karabakh, they were treated to a performance by the young students of the Naregatsi Art Institute in Shushi.
On July 24, interns visited the AGBU Antranik Scout Camp in the Lori region of Armenia and spent an unforgettable day with Armenian scouts from all around the world. YSIP students were also given the unique opportunity to attend a performance of “Anoush” opera at the Armenian National Opera and Ballet Theatre.
This year’s group also took part in a unique scavenger hunt activity, together with Birthright Armenia volunteers. Together the groups were divided into several teams and sent to explore the Armenian capital in an effort to create camaraderie and familiarize them with the city and its residents.
On August 3, before the conclusion of the six-week program, a farewell reception was held at the Yerevan Museum of Folk Art, in honor of the interns, YSIP staff, intern supervisors, and AGBU staff. The evening celebrated the once-in-a-lifetime journey experienced by YSIP and their unforgettable summer experiences.
“No matter what you expect, you will be wrong. Armenia, and YSIP, will impress you from day one to the day you have to leave,” said Samuel Armen, who was a 2011 participant from the United States. “It won’t be until the days are running out that you notice how extraordinary the experience has been, from the jump-start in one’s career to the vital friendships and connections created for the future,” he said.
Fellow YSIP intern Nicole Saglamer, also of the United States, shared Armen’s enthusiasm about her summer. “Being an AGBU intern for the what it really means to be a diasporan Armenian. I have acquired an even greater affinity towards my Armenian heritage and identity, and know now for sure that coming back to Armenia to support and help my homeland is a huge passion of mine,” she said..