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AUA Initiates Celebration of International Education Week

By Garine Palandjian

YEREVAN, Armenia – The American University of Armenia (AUA) celebrated International Education Week (IEW) for the first time on November 11-15, 2013. Throughout the week, AUA’s Center for Student Success organized a series of events and activities aimed at celebrating world regions and cultures, raising awareness of international and global issues, developing cross-cultural skills, and promoting respect and concern for other cultures and peoples.

A series of movie screenings were organized each night in AUA’s Alex and Marie Manoogian Hall, followed by briefings and discussions. The lineup of films included:  “Crossing Borders”, “Schooling the World”, “Girl Rising”, “The Insider”, and “China Blue”.  Members from the faculty were also involved in a few of these movie screenings.  In collaboration with the MA TEFL program, Dr. Rai Farrelly introduced the film “Girl Rising” with some factual information and a brief overview about the importance of girls’ education.  Following the film, Dr. Farrelly led a discussion about some of the issues presented in the movie.  During the discussion, the participants also reflected upon how girls’ education is perceived in Armenia in comparison to the examples seen in the film. 

In addition to the MA TEFL program, International Education Week also included a collaborated event with the School of Public Health on tobacco control. Dr. Narine Movsisyan, Senior Researcher at the Center for Health Services Research and Development, provided introductory remarks for a film screening of “The Insider”. Dr. Movsisyan has been involved in tobacco control research and advocacy work in Armenia since 2003 and authored a number of peer-reviewed publications. “As you will see later in this film, when doing research, one may experience a conflict of interest about the responsibility of disclosing the truth for the common good.” Dr. Movsisyan’s work has been recognized by several prestigious awards, including the William Fulbright Scholarship.

Aside from movie screenings, students volunteered to read at local Yerevan Public Libraries.  At Achapnyak Library, Anahit Kasparyan, Mariam Mkrtchyan, and Astghik Pirumyan read “The Little Prince”.  They began their reading with a short performance to introduce the core ideas of the book to the students.  Throughout the reading, Anahit would stop to engage the students in a discussion.  Kasparyan says, “We got amazing answers. We were surprised, because those little children knew that a person should be responsible enough for taking care of others and that was the most important reason for not letting a kid to keep the dog.” Kasparyan explained, “Each of them wanted to speak up, state his/her opinion and it was unbelievable how smart they were and how deep thoughts they were able to express.”  At the end of the presentation, AUA students handed out balloons to the children who enjoyed the reading very much.  “One kid was a bit sad that we have finished, he wanted us to continue the discussion” remarked Kasparyan.  Overall the library reading was a great experience for both the library and our AUA students.  Based on their experience, Kasparyan explained, “It was a very nice chance for us to socialize present ideas, share experience and learn something new. Maybe this was not the last time we were volunteering in the library.”

The week of celebrations also included an International Photo Contest.  Students submitted photos that reflected the concept of international or global ideas. The photographs were held on display in the Center for Student Success lounge for voting. The winner of the contest will be announced on the Center’s website.

International experiences were also displayed as AUA students and faculty gave short presentations about the countries they came from or had spent significant amounts of time in. AUA students Vardan Grigoryan and Anush Muradyan presented Georgia’s educational system and their experiences in Georgian schools. They also shared their experiences as Armenian minorities in Javakhk and why they decided to later come to the American University of Armenia.

Syrian Armenian students Joe Markarian, Houry Pilibbossian, and Jiro Farah presented a general overview of the Syrian education System.  During their presentation, Markarian, Pilibbossian, and Farah described the schools they attended including the Karen Jeppe Armenian College.  Markarian explained the historical background of how the school was first started by missionary Karen Jeppe, a Danish philanthropist.   Jiro, as a proud student of Karen Jeppe Armenian College says, “Every happy memory in my life took place in my school.  I am sure one day I will go because I still owe the school a lot.”  During the presentation Pilibbosian explained, “One of the most important facts people should know about Syria was that higher education was free and accredited.”  Houry attended Guiliguian College in Aleppo.  In Syria, the presenters explained college is equivalent to what others would refer to as high school.  At the end of the presentation, Houry said, “I only had one wish: to have graduated from my high school.”

Hilda Yacoubian and Dalar Jivanian, Syrian Armenian students who grew up in Damascus also provided accounts of their experience and touched upon some of the similarities and differences.  Yacoubian attended an international school in Damascus and described her proud moment where her fellow classmates from around the world learned to read, write and speak Arabic.”

In addition to AUA students, Hilda Grigorian, a faculty in the MBA program, presented a country presentation on Afghanistan and illustrated the beauty of the country and the progress that has been made so far in rebuilding the country.  Ms. Grigorian shared some of her experiences working with US and NATO armed forces and traveling in Afghanistan.  Based on the mainstream media, Ms. Grigorian demonstrated the positive aspect of the country to the AUA community in order to engage in a different dialogue about Afghanistan.

IEW first began in 2000 in the United States as a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences. Today it is celebrated in more than 100 countries worldwide.

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MA TEFL Instructor Rai Farrelly led a discussion in conjunction with the screening of the documentary film Girl Rising as part of International Education Week.

 

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International students from Syria gave a presentation about the Syrian educational system.

 

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Students in AUA’s Center for Student Success listening to their classmates’ presentation on Syria.

 

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International students from Georgia gave a presentation about the Georgian educational system as part of International Education Week.

 

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AUA Students, faculty, and staff members attended Country Presentations in AUA’s Center for Student Success.

 

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AUA faculty member Hilda Grigorian gave a country presentation on Afghanistan, where she lived and worked for eight years.

 

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

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