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AUA Alumni and Faculty Tour Artsakh and Southern Armenia

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On May 25-28, 2019, a group of alumni and faculty of the American University of Armenia (AUA) embarked on a great adventure to beautiful Artsakh and Southern Armenia. The trip was particularly exceptional as it was led by world-renowned historian, archaeologist and AUA Professor Dr. Gregory Areshian who guided the group through millennia of history revealing to the travelers the marvels and secrets of each site visited. 

From monasteries to caves of global significance, the group learned about and experienced many of Artsakh’s most coveted spots. They also managed to bond over the Artsakh delicacy zhingyalov hats, a type of flatbread stuffed with finely diced herbs and green vegetables, and get familiarized with the lifestyle of a family in Azokh village in the Hadrut region.  

Madlene Minassian, AUA adjunct lecturer, expressed her impressions of this emotion-packed discovery trip: “AUA is where I come to refuel! The energy source is the brilliance of our students. Knowing that these bright minds will drive tomorrow’s Armenia ignites my own passion. Our AUA trip to Artsakh mirrored this hope that I feel in the halls of AUA. It was a trip of discoveries, of history, legacy, and of the diverse and exceptional people that make up our AUA community and Artsakh both today and tomorrow.” 

As stated by Lilit Hovhannisyan (MBA ’04), “This trip was a uniquely worthwhile and life-changing experience. I fell in love with Artsakh and its brave people. Most importantly, the trip was a perfect opportunity to expand my professional network with interesting individuals from the AUA community with similar values and vision. I am grateful to the AUA Office of Alumni Relations gifting us with such precious memories, full of excitement, knowledge, and happy mood. I look forward to taking more trips to our beloved country’s hidden spots.” 

During the four-day trip the group stayed at the boutique Park Hotel and were greeted by AUA alumnus Gegham Stepanyan (M PSIA ‘16) who serves as assistant to the president of the National Assembly of Artsakh. The group was also happy to meet Narek Babajanian (BS CS ‘18) who is studying at the Military Academy of Artsakh and Armen Sardaryan (MBA ‘97), team leader of the Turpanjian Rural Development Program in Artsakh who provided updates on the AUA work in Artsakh and shared tidbits about their work and daily life.  

The tour started with a visit to the Urartian city Odzaberd named after the Urartian god of storms and thunder Teisheba. Tours of church and monastery included Dadivank, Gandzasar, Ghazanchetsots, and Amaras. The group also visited museums, namely the Carpet and Coin museums in Shushi, the Museum of History and Ethnography in Stepanakert, as well as the Nikol Duman house museum. Other stops in the expedition were at the majestic Tnjri Tree the historic site of Zorats Karer, as well as the fortresses of Shushi and Askeran, Tigranakert, and the Azokh and Areni-1 caves. The latter is the archeological site where the 5,500 year-old shoe, as well as the world’s oldest winery and hundreds of other phenomenal artifacts were discovered.

Throughout the excursion, Dr. Areshian served as a fount of knowledge on the significance of each site elaborating on the history of the Armenian people and the world. “To truly understand and internalize the history and cultural heritage of humankind you must see it and touch it. It’s much better than reading dozens of historical books,” said Dr. Areshian.

To join one of future trips, please look out for announcements on AUA Alumni Relations Facebook page, as well as visit!

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.