Students Participate in a Host of Internship, Musical and Community Service Programs
For students about to enter the professional world, AGBU offers an array of programs that not only allow them to gain valuable work experience, but also connect with their heritage. This year, Armenian youth participated in internship, musical and community service programs that helped them solidify their career aspirations and strengthen their ties to Armenians around the globe.
New York Summer Internship Program (NYSIP)
In New York, 33 undergraduate and graduate students from Armenia, Brazil, Canada, France, Lebanon, Romania, Syria, the United Kingdom and the United States all participated in the New York Summer Internship Program (NYSIP). As the flagship program in AGBU’s cadre of internship opportunities, NYSIP provided an ideal combination of critical experience in a chosen field and immersion in one of the most energetic and exciting cities. Interns were placed in prestigious institutions like Michael Aram, Deutsche Bank, Human Rights Watch and the NYU Medical Center.
The program also brought students of Armenian descent closer to their roots. For Villanova University student Samantha Testa, the intellectually stimulating environment that NYSIP created prompted her to learn more about her heritage after the program: “I am a quarter Armenian by blood, but I have always felt that I am more Armenian in my heart. Since the end of the program, I have taken it upon myself to start taking Armenian lessons so I can learn to read, write and speak the language. NYSIP has made me appreciate where I came from even more than I already did.”
Yerevan Summer Internship Program (YSIP)
While interns in New York were taking their first steps into the professional world, 20 students from Austria, Bulgaria, Lebanon, The Netherlands, Russia and the United States were also gaining valuable work experience in the Yerevan Summer Internship Program (YSIP). Interns in Yerevan were placed in a diverse range of companies and institutions, including the Armenian British Business Chamber, Armenian Monuments Awareness Project (AMAP), Byblos Bank and Storaket Architectural Studio, as well as medical centers and non-profit organizations.
After spending the summer discovering their homeland through YSIP, many interns have returned to work on special projects. A 2011 YSIP participant, Shushan Sargsian, returned to the program this year as the activities coordinator because of the wonderful experience she had as an intern: “As activities coordinator in 2014, I had the opportunity to work with AGBU in Yerevan. It was an amazing experience to see how all kinds of businesses and organizations are being run in Yerevan and it made me begin to think about the possibility of ending up in Armenia long-term at some point along my own professional path.”
For Beverly Gantt, a 2012 YSIP participant, YSIP inspired her to stay in Armenia immediately after the program’s end: “After I completed the program, I knew I wanted to return to Armenia. In 2013 I was awarded a 2013 – 2014 Fulbright grant in Armenia by the U.S. Department of State. After the completion of my grant, I returned to Armenia once again and am currently employed as a teacher at both the American University of Armenia’s Extension Program and the Armenian National Lycée after Anania Shirakatsy.”
Musical Armenia Program (MAP)
Together with the AGBU Musical Armenia Program (MAP), the YSIP interns traveled to Nagorno-Karabakh for a long weekend, participated in the AGBU Antranik Scout Camp’s bonfire night and lived in the brand new AGBU Vahe Karapetian Residence Hall. This strong cross-program cohesion helped the students solidify their sense of identity, establish meaningful peer friendships, and better understand Armenia’s rich history and bright future.
With a goal of nurturing the diverse talents of musically gifted young Armenians in their homeland, MAP united 12 participants from Canada, Cyprus, Lebanon, Qatar, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Uruguay and the United States and brought them closer to the artistic heritage of the Armenian people.
Taking one-on-one lessons with renowned professors from the Komitas State Music Conservatory and attending lectures on the ancient Armenian notational system [khaz], in addition to Armenian classical, jazz and minstrel genres, the students focused exclusively on Armenian music, which they showcased during the Gala Concert at the Naregatsi Arts Institute at the close of the session. Alik Jébéjian, a young flautist from Cyprus, notes the importance of these lessons in her experience: “My teacher taught me how to express my feelings through my instrument, my flute, and most importantly, how to live out my music, especially Armenian music. I still am so overwhelmed by the amazing welcome we had from AGBU. MAP 2014 was a way to reconnect with my roots— my homeland—through what I love doing most: playing music.”
Though MAP is one of the youngest AGBU programs, it has already established itself as an entry point for the professional world and for repatriation. Some alumni made the decision to call Armenia their new home and continue their involvement with the program; other MAP students were offered professional contracts in Armenia and Europe. Still others are now working on projects in their own cities to bring recognition to Armenian composers.
Also in Armenia this summer were a record number of participants in the Discover Armenia program, which has been bringing together diasporan youth from all over the world for eleven years to connect with their heritage over the course of three weeks in their ancestral homeland. Among the main goals of the program is for youth ages 15 to 18 to form lifelong bonds with their global peers and return home with a greater sense of responsibility toward their Armenian community.
This year, 44 teenagers from Canada, France, Lebanon, Russia, Syria and the United States helped build a new home for a local family through the Fuller Center for Housing, a US-based non-profit housing ministry. They also enjoyed a lively afternoon serving lunch and chatting with the pensioners at AGBU’s Senior Dining Center, spent time with children in an orphanage, took Armenian folk song, dance and pottery classes at the AGBU Nork Children’s Center and visited the famous landmarks in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. For the first time in the history of the Discover Armenia program, the group also visited the ruins of Ani from the Armenian side of the Turkish-Armenian border.
For more information about the AGBU Summer Internship programs (NYSIP and YSIP), please visit www.agbu-internship.org
For more information on the Musical Armenia Program (MAP), please visit www.agbu.org/musicalarmenia
For more information on Discover Armenia, please visit www.discoverarmenia.org
The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is the world’s largest non-profit
organization devoted to upholding the Armenian heritage through educational,
cultural and humanitarian programs. Each year, AGBU is committed to making
a difference in the lives of 500,000 people across Armenia, Artsakh and the
Armenian diaspora. Since 1906, AGBU has remained true to one overarching
goal: to create a foundation for the prosperity of all Armenians.
To learn more visit www.agbu.org.