AUA Open Education Is Expanding its Outreach to Syunik
GORIS, Armenia – On January 31, 2020, the Goris National Theatre Building was bustling with visitors and avid participants as they gathered to initiate the start of the American University of Armenia (AUA) Open Education regional center in Goris, Syunik region. This new open education initiative has been made possible with the generous support of the Manoogian Simone Foundation and ContourGlobal, as well as the Governor’s Office of Syunik and Goris Municipality.
The center aims at working together with regional and local government entities and communities, the Women’s Development Resource Center Foundation and other NGOs, as well as private sector actors in tourism and hospitality. This new Open Education regional center aims to fill the knowledge gaps to unleash creativity and innovation for the economic development of the region.
The opening event was a hands-on learning experiment that showcased the success of the Dilijan MADE center and its artisanship experience with local craftsmen. Five artisans from the MADE center had traveled to Goris to tell their stories and inspire local talent.
One of the leading wood craftsmen in Goris, Albert Mirzoyan, reflected that he had not been in such a great learning event for a long time and he kept pinching himself to make sure that it was not a dream. There were over 60 participants from the region: educators, business owners, artists and craftsmen. They worked with MADE artisans and created two necklaces that were then awarded as prizes to the most creative participants with a vision for regional development.
Ruzanna Torozyan, head of the Women’s Development Resource Center in Goris and Anush Malintsyan from Yeghevnut hotel shared their impressions and thoughts about the event. Torozyan emphasized the importance of such an educational center that will enable organizations like theirs to invest in the growth of local talent and professionalism, especially women entrepreneurs in the service industry to increase the quality of tourism and hospitality and support regional growth. “With AUA we can take bigger and more confident steps,” she said.
ContourGlobal employees also took part in the opening event and they were excited that the center will soon start its activities initially teaching courses in English and Project Management, and subsequently adding courses in culinary arts and service provision. They shared their pride and joy for having selected this project to come to their region as they can see how much it is needed.
The leadership of the AUA Open Education regional center together with MADE visited three villages, met with the community and local educators to spark ideas and hear about their aspirations in order to choose two villages that will participate in the One Village, One Product initiative.
“There are so many challenges but also opportunities and such vast resources in the region,” shared Loucine Hayes, AUA Open Education director. “Our role is to work hand in hand with the community and engage AUA’s academic community to transform those challenges, opportunities and resources into real possibilities. I see the energy, the willingness and the hunger for knowledge and skills in the community. I also recognize the support of regional and local governments, and these are all the ingredients for achieving tangible outcomes.”
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.