AUA Hosts Vic Darchinyan and Special Olympics Representative

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YEREVAN, Armenia — On October 10, students and faculty of the American University of Armenia (AUA) had a unique opportunity to learn about the Special Olympics and meet former world boxing champion Vakhtang “Vic” Darchinyan.

At the invitation of Special Olympics Armenia National Director and AUA’s Physical Education Coordinator Artak Stepanyan, Senior Director of Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Krzysztof Krukowski visited AUA to share with students, faculty, and staff the story of the Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organization for people with disabilities.

The Special Olympics was founded in 1968, launching its first World Games with 1,000 athletes. In 2019, the Special Olympics boasted of having 5,7 million athletes in over 200 countries, including Armenia. Special Olympics Armenia was founded in 1990. Currently, Armenia has over 400 athletes. 

The Special Olympics is one of two organizations recognized by the International Olympic Committee. The second organization is the Paralympic Games (Paralympics), an international sporting event involving athletes with physical disabilities. 

In his talk, Krukowski informed the attendees about some of the Special Olympics non-sports activities, training, and family programs, as well as the myriad volunteering opportunities for students to get involved in Special Olympics, including participation in direct sporting, coaching and assistant coaching, but also in research, public relations, fundraising, and office support. 

“AUA is glad to have had the opportunity to host the Special Olympics,” stated Dr. Sharistan Melkonian, dean of General Education, adding, “This was a good reminder for everyone about the importance of ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to reach their potential, far beyond the playing field.” 

In their turn, Stepanyan, who oversees 60 sections of physical education each semester at AUA, spoke to the importance of physical health, while world boxing champion Vakhtang “Vic” Darchinyan shared with students his personal experience as a boxer and as an advocate for providing opportunities for all. 

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.