Skylar Yoder

Reporting From Armenia: Skylar Yoder’s Experience

3 min read

Introducing Skylar Yoder, a master’s degree candidate at King’s College London (KCL), who has joined the American University of Armenia (AUA) as an intern through a partnership with The Armenia Project (TAP). Skylar is currently interning at CivilNet and AUA; at AUA, she has joined the Office of Communications, working on the Media Lab Project. This project is funded by a generous grant from ASHA/USAID and aims to provide quality journalism by offering courses in media literacy, journalism, training, and workshops. As an intern, Skylar has created a thorough strategy for the Media Lab’s podcast channel, the Focus Series, as well as recorded the inaugural episode. She has drafted press releases and internal communications, in addition to advising on social media content.

My name is Skylar Yoder, and during my program in Conflict, Security, and Development at KCL, my interest in transitioning into a career in journalism, particularly covering conflict, continued to grow. As such, when I found this dual-internship opportunity through TAP, I was excited about the possibility of getting valuable, hands-on experience in media by working with both AUA and CivilNet.

Though I have traveled to more than 50 countries, I had never set foot in Armenia and wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. My arrival in Yerevan in late September coincided with the latest incident of military aggression by Azerbaijan, setting the stage for what would be a unique and rewarding internship experience in the country.

At AUA, I was responsible for developing a comprehensive strategy for the Media Lab’s forthcoming podcast channel called Focus Series, which will showcase the happenings of the University, including applied research on a variety of topics, with the broader community. As part of this work, I created and executed a recruitment plan to bring on board hosts from within the AUA community for the Focus Series, in addition to hosting the inaugural episode with Chief Communications Officer Narek Ghazaryan. I also drafted several press releases and internal communications, brainstormed social media content, and assisted with editing the weekly Insider Events and Newsletters. 

I also had the opportunity to attend a webinar with several industry experts on the challenges of covering conflict in the modern era. As someone whose background and interests are closely aligned with this topic, I found the discussion on the best practices for covering complex issues in a compelling and objective way to be immensely useful.

As a journalist at CivilNet, I wrote several articles about the geopolitical situation, humanitarian issues, and other conflict-related topics in Armenia. I also contributed to several video projects, which allowed me to learn the process of scripting, recording, and editing engaging audiovisual content. One of my most memorable moments was a reporting trip to Goris, days after the mass exodus of ethnic Armenians from their homes in Nagorno-Karabakh. The charm of the changing landscape as we passed through Ararat, then Vayots Dzor, and finally Syunik greatly impressed me. Upon our arrival in Goris, I found this natural beauty difficult to reconcile with the human tragedy of what had just taken place mere kilometers away. 

Outside of the office, I immersed myself in Armenian culture by attending Anoush at the National Opera, embarking on a wine tasting in Areni, exploring monasteries around the country, eating traditional Armenian dishes, and visiting museums around Yerevan. On one evening, I took in the stunning view of the city from the top of the Cascades Complex as the sunset gradually set, with hot air balloons dotting the skyline. As I quickly learned, there is no shortage of unique things to experience in Armenia.  

Through this dual internship, I have further developed my writing, broadcasting, video, audio, photography, and social media skills. Working at AUA and CivilNet allowed me to see first-hand the all-encompassing impact of conflict on communities as students, colleagues, and their families were directly impacted by the military offensive and forced displacement that ensued. Overall, this experience has reinforced to me the value of on-the-ground reporting, especially in areas of conflict, which is something that I will continue to pursue following my internship here in Armenia.

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 and graduate degree and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.