AGBU Yerevan Summer Intern Program’s Premier Session Strengthens

AGBU Press Office
55 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022-1112
Phone: 212.319.6383, x118
Fax: 212.319.6507
Email: [email protected]


Thursday, August 16, 2007

AGBU Yerevan Summer Intern Program’s Premier Session Strengthens Global
Armenian Community

On Sunday, August 5, 2007, the inaugural season of the AGBU Yerevan
Summer Intern Program (YSIP) ended when the last of the 16 students
returned home to their respective communities filled with a new direct
knowledge of the land and people of Armenia.

During the five-week YSIP program, the participating students from four
countries (Canada, Egypt, Romania and the United States) worked as
interns in some of Armenia’s premier institutions and corporations,
including, the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Armenia, the
country’s National Assembly, the Central Bank of Armenia, the American
University of Armenia, the Cafesjian Foundation, the "Sharm" media
company, and a number of leading medical institutions.

YSIP is AGBU’s third summer intern program, joining the New York and
Paris programs to offer college-aged students a perfect mix of
professional and personal experiences. The program is unique in that it
gives Armenians studying in different educational institutions all over
the world a chance to increase their work experience and reconnecting
them to their heritage.

While workdays are spent gaining hands-on work experience, in the
evenings and weekends YSIP participants were given the opportunity to
explore Armenia and Karabakh. In addition to the traditional tourist
attractions of Garni, Geghard, Sevan, Dilijan, and Khor Virap, students
visited many AGBU-supported programs in Armenia, touring the American
University of Armenia and the Ultrasound Training Center, attending a
concert by the world-renowned Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, and being
treated to a performance and exhibition at one of the three AGBU
Children’s Centers.

During a special weekend trip to Karabakh, YSIP participants also saw
first-hand the great impact AGBU-funded projects in the region are
having, including the rebuilt Stepanakert School #7, an apartment
building for war veterans and war widows, a chess school, the Alex
Manoogian monument on Alex Manoogian Street in Stepanakert, and a
concert by the Karabakh Chamber Orchestra, all of which were established
through the generosity of AGBU donors.

YSIP interns also took a trip to three villages in Karabakh’s southeast
Hadrut region that are part of the AGBU Repopulation Project. They
toured the growing village of Norashen, which already has a school,
kindergarten and medical clinic, and the smaller Bareshen settlement
nearby. Students also saw the newly inaugurated village of Jrakn, which
will be completed in the next few years. As part of their journey to
Karabakh, interns had the unique opportunity to meet with Karabakh
National Assembly Speaker, Ashot Ghulyan, and learn about the progress
Karabakh has made towards greater stability and prosperity.

As an added feature of the YSIP summer schedule, students took part in
Armenian language classes, dancing lessons, history lectures, as well as
meetings with various governmental leaders of the Republic of Armenia.
Some of the featured speakers and leaders who met with YSIP interns were
Ashot Melkonian, Director of Armenia’s History Institute; Hayk Demoyan,
Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum; and Deputy Foreign Minister of
the Republic of Armenia, Armen Bayburtian. The weekly dance classes for
YSIP interns at the Nork Children’s Center culminated in a small July
31, 2007 performance for the local community.

Lia Sarkissian of Los Angeles interned at the Karagyozian Clinic and had
a positive experience, learning the medical field in another country.
"My impressions of Armenia’s medical facilities were eye-opening. I saw
differences, but at the same time I am proud to be given the opportunity
to participate in an internship program here and gain first-hand
knowledge. I cannot describe or fully explain the emotions that I felt
here in Armenia. I will never forget these five weeks that I spent
here." Sarkissian says she is eager to visit Armenia at the next
available opportunity.

Another Armenian American, Aleen Tovmasian, interned at a legal
consulting firm, Global SPC, in Yerevan. She blogged about her summer
work experience on the YSIP blog. "My internship, or ‘practica’ as they
call it here, [allowed me to] conduct research and formulate, translate,
and help with sociological surveys in benchmark countries in order to
determine what may be the best plan for implementation domestically. It
is extremely interesting to read about the technological, political, and
financial climates in Armenia, and work toward improvements in those
areas. I never imagined that I would be as interested in the development
of policy, but I guess much of my intrigue with the topic emerges from
my newfound attachment to this country and the prosperity of its
children. With more technological advancements, the children of Armenia
will be able to keep up with and have the same opportunities as children
in other parts of the world."

YSIP co-coordinator Tamar Shahabian is assured that the interns are all
satisfied with the AGBU program and impressed with their experiences.
"We were very well received here. They have a deeper understanding as to
why they feel Armenian. There are difficulties here, but the interns
want to come back again; that tells me that the program was successful."

Shushanik Ghaltakhchian, also a YSIP co-coordinator, was directly
involved in job placement process and echoes that the program was hugely
successful: "The biggest achievement of the program is that most of
these youngsters have decided to come back to Armenia and this time not
alone, but with their families, grandmas, sisters and other family

YSIP also organized a reception for program supervisors at Yerevan’s
local Folk Art museum on Thursday August 2, 2007. The event was designed
to thank all the employers who generously opened their offices to YSIP
participants and ensured that they receive a great deal of experience in
their respective fields of study. Many of the supervisors asked to
address the gathering and expressed their happiness at YSIP’s success.

While summer internships are common in the West, they have only recently
become more prevalent in Armenia. So, it is no surprise that YSIP
supervisors, like Harutyun Poghossian, Head of Marketing and Quality
Department of ACBA Credit Agricol Bank, also found the experience
educational and rewarding. "It was a great pleasure for us to have two
young people working with us whom we loved very much and whose leaving
will be difficult for us. They saw all the processes going on in our
bank. They got in touch with the bank employees and, what is more
important, learned a lot about Armenians [in Armenia]," Poghossian

For Mary Ghazarian, Executive Director of the EuroTerm company, the
AGBU’s offer was unexpected. "Our intern perfectly substituted our
employee who was on vacation. My assessment of YSIP is very positive.
Youth from the diaspora come to Armenia, get in touch with us and get
acquainted with our businesses," Ghazarian said.

To keep friends and family informed about their homeland experiences,
YSIP interns posted items from their time in Armenia and Karabakh on a
specially prepared weblog (or blog) designed for the program. Filled
with stories and photos, the YSIP blog can be found online by visiting

YSIP Intern, Lara Golnazarians summed up her summer of a lifetime in her
blog entry at the end of July: "I never realized how holistically
encompassing this experience would be. A five-week internship, which I
expected would add to a warm extension as a young professional, has
become a journey of self- realization…while visiting Armenia, I
continuously experience a wide and varying range of feelings. Besides
feeling happiness, joy and pride, I also felt pain, suffering and
frustration. Although contrary to my initial intentions, I believe that
one must feel all these emotions in order for a visit to Armenia to be
more than just a superficial journey."

The AGBU Yerevan Summer Intern Program () places young,
aspiring Armenians in five-week internships at leading institutions,
organizations and corporations in Yerevan, Armenia, while providing a
well-rounded program of Armenian cultural, educational and community
service activities. To obtain an application or information about the
2008 program, please email [email protected].

For more information about AGBU and its worldwide programs, please visit

With reporting from Gohar Gevorkian of Azg newspaper (08/04/07)