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Kashian Family Foundation Strengthens Ties Between Diasporans & Armenia

3 min read

As a global academic institution of higher learning, the American University of Armenia (AUA) welcomes students from around the world, particularly study abroad participants. Thanks to the generosity of the Kashian Family Foundation, undergraduates from California State University, Fresno, spend a semester on AUA’s campus in Yerevan where they have the opportunity to learn both in the classrooms as well as from their rich environment, located in the country’s capital city.

“The Kashian Family Foundation is pleased to support the Fresno State/AUA partnership which has allowed students to study abroad in Armenia,” said Georgeanne White, President of the Kashian Family Foundation. “The experience of participating in academic courses while immersing themselves in the Armenian culture is invaluable to these students and will hopefully create lifelong memories and friendships.”

Two Fresno State students were selected for the summer and fall 2018 semesters, Avedis Kachadourian and Christine Idjian, respectively, whose personal and professional lives were enriched during their months at AUA as they forged ties to Armenia early on.

A senior at Fresno State, Idjian is a Business Accounting major with a minor in Armenian Studies and is currently on AUA’s campus enrolled in Intermediate Managerial Accounting, Introduction to Armenian Government, Photography and International Relations. While she has traveled to Armenia several times, her experience as a study abroad student has been quite different, particularly in terms of academic approach.

“I wanted to study abroad at AUA because it has always been interesting for me to see what the education system and teaching style is like in Armenia,” said Idjian, who plans to obtain her master’s degree and become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) upon graduation. “I was interested in seeing what the studying environment is like in another country, but where almost everyone is Armenian.”

In her classes, Idjian recognized similarities and differences, such as the importance of participation, larger homework load, emphasis on group work and computer-based exams. She notes that her courses have had “a great impact” on her academic goals, especially since she would like to acquire knowledge in international accounting and study the practices in Armenia. In addition, she appreciates the lively atmosphere and the new friendships she has made in the country.

Born and raised in Fresno, Idjian desired to explore her homeland further, despite her previous trips to Armenia and courses in Armenian studies at Fresno State.

“I have enjoyed experiencing the feeling of living in my homeland for a few months,” said Idjian. “By studying abroad in Armenia, I have discovered what the real Armenian culture is like and have added to my knowledge of the history and religion while discovering new cultural values and traditions by seeing, participating and attending cultural events.”

An aspiring history professor, Kachadourian saw an opportunity for “personal growth, historical knowledge, and cultural immersion” that would shape his future as a study abroad student at AUA.

He sought to broaden his horizons and develop a deeper understanding of his Armenian heritage.

“Learning about Armenia’s past has always been of utmost importance to me,” said Kachadourian. “In Sunday school and at home, I grew up around the culture that runs deep in Fresno, California.”

He learned of key Armenian figures as well as the Armenian Genocide while studying the history of the country in class, but desired to witness first-hand the “first churches that withstood centuries of invasion from enemies against both Armenia and Christianity, and the rich mountains and hillsides that paint the Armenian landscape.”

A history major, Kachadourian enrolled in Armenian Society and Culture with Dr. Anahid Keshishian and Global Perspectives and Armenian Site Stories with Dr. Gregory Areshian at AUA.

“The opportunity to learn from both of those professors was something I will always be grateful for,” said Kachadourian. “Combining their teachings with the multiple excursions we took every week, I was able to understand far more about Armenia and the rest of the world than I ever had before.”

His favorite was the trip to the Areni 1 cave and the Norovank Monastery where the class was able to see “the remnants of ancient peoples who once lived in the Armenian Highlands and a monastery from the middle ages.”

During his semester on campus, Kachadourian appreciated the well-kept campus, modern facilities and helpful staff and above all, the kindness and hospitality of the students and faculty, who he noted were very welcoming.

Upon receiving the scholarship and attending AUA, Kachadourian realized the memories he created in the homeland would stay with him forever.

“Traveling to Armenia was something I honestly thought I would not do until far later in my

life,” said Kachadourian. “I am extremely grateful to the Kashian Family Foundation that gave me the chance to go to Armenia and study at AUA because this was an opportunity of a lifetime.”

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. For more information about the American University of Armenia and its donor opportunities, please visit

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