AUA Delegation Visit to Goris Office
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Profiling AUA Extension in Armenia’s Regions: Goris

4 min read

GORIS, Armenia — American University of Armenia (AUA) Extension, the non-degree arm of the University, serves as AUA’s principal interface with the larger public in Yerevan and various regions of Armenia. AUA Extension plans, designs, develops, and delivers quality courses that are periodically refreshed to better meet the changing needs of public and private sector organizations, as well as the public at large. 

The work AUA Extension carries out in the underserved regions is especially critical in contributing to the process of building the Armenian state. AUA Extension currently operates offices in Dilijan, Goris, Gyumri, Kapan, Vanadzor, and Yeghegnadzor. 

We asked Hayarpi Avanesyan, program coordinator of AUA Extension in Goris, to expand on the history of the Office, its ongoing activities, and more. 

AUA Extension began operating in Goris in late 2019. With the official signing of the collaboration agreement between AUA and ContourGlobal during an event at the newly-opened AUA Extension Goris on November 2, 2021, the partners set out to achieve sustainable development in the region by contributing their respective knowledge and expertise. The space features four well-equipped classrooms and a library space, which make possible offering language and professional development courses.

The establishment of AUA Extension in Goris was made possible through the generous support of the Manoogian Simone Foundation, Goris Municipality, and ContourGlobal, which facilitated the establishment of the Center through its partner companies, Voith Hydro (Germany) and EFACEC Power Solutions (Portugal). The generous contributions by these entities made possible realizing the necessary renovations and acquiring equipment and other necessities for launching the Goris Extension program. 

A review of the AUA Extension Goris program indicates that local demand for continuing education courses has shifted dramatically in the last four years. If the founding purpose of AUA Extension Goris was to train qualified professionals in the hospitality industry, the community priorities have since changed, requiring programmatic adjustments that better meet local demand.

The Destination Goris initiative launched by AUA Extension in 2020-21 embraced local partners in the hospitality field interested in making Goris a choice destination for travelers. This mentoring program was directed to assisting the businesses in upgrading service quality. Destination Goris participants benefited from the practical courses specially designed for them, followed by on-site consultancy sessions. 

Among the collaborative partnerships Goris Extension has cultivated are its on-the-ground cooperation with Partnership and Teaching NGO (P&T NGO) to implement the English for Kids program, which has benefitted 59 kids from Artsakh; and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Women’s Development Resource Center for sponsoring courses inBookkeeping, Personal Initiative, and Social Media Marketing (SMM)  following a needs assessment conducted among 120 displaced Armenians in Goris, Tegh, and Tatev. Later, in 2022, the Goris Extension team initiated a series of discussions with community representatives, which resulted in laying the foundation for designating annual training plans that incorporated the recommendations from the Municipality, educational institutions, NGOs, and other local enterprises.

As a result, students from the Goris community can now enroll in a wide variety of online AUA Extension courses that consider region-specific issues and advantages. In addition, courses are also available for in-person instruction, including: General English all levels, Speaking English, Business English, German, Italian, Spanish; test preparation for SAT and TOEFL, and professional development courses, such as SMM, SMM Pro, Bookkeeping, Computer Literacy, and soft skills, including Negotiation, Communication, Time Management, Project Management, Hospitality Management, etc.).

In addition to regular language and professional development courses, AUA Extension in Goris  organizes events, workshops, and activities aimed at serving the needs and interests of the community. These include reading clubs; speaking clubs with native speakers; summer camp; essay competitions; topical lectures with different speakers; and other events that celebrate Book Giving Day, Earth Day, and Women’s Day, among others.

Following the devastating events of 2023, the first challenging assignment Extension took on was to help a large number of children directly impacted by the events: children whose planned goals had to be adjusted, their schedules altered, and their undertakings revised to fit the forced circumstances. More importantly, the program focused on redirecting their state of mind and instilling in them hope for the future. Based on the experiences gained from two very successful summer schools conducted earlier, Extension moved on to planning the winter school. 

DuringDecember 11-22, 2023, AUA Extension Goris became a hub of joy, connecting and educating children ages 12-14 who were forcibly displaced from their homes in Artsakh. The camp was successful in fulfilling its primary goal of empowering children to overcome stress, and serving as an outlet for expression and learning. Through an array of activities, including cultural events, group activities, and skill development sessions, the program engaged the kids in exciting new activities: movie screenings, handicraft sessions, museum and art gallery visitations, conducting scientific experiments that fostered curiosity and hands-on learning, an artistic talent show, master classes in painting, culinary experiences, story reading, and other learning experiences. 

The camp concluded on a festive note with a Christmas party featuring tree decoration, a poster contest, singing, dancing with Santa Claus, and a heartwarming gift-exchanges that wrapped up the event in joy, gratitude, and cherished memories.

In the early months of the new year, the office focused attention on various events and English language classes for children, collaborating with schools and municipalities. In addition, a survey questionnaire was posted on our social media platform, which provided responses that allowed us to pinpoint the current educational needs in the community.

Now, Extension collaborates with many local and international organizations in the community to assess the educational needs of the people of Artsakh, and in accordance with its mission, seeks to meet the expressed public demand. Based on the information gathered, two offline courses in Computer Literacy and Bookkeeping were launched, with the goal of boosting the competitiveness of Artsakhtsis in the job market and facilitating their adaptation to their new environment.

The Goris “Modern Library” was formally launched in Goris on May 2, 2023, marking another significant milestone in providing access to educational resources and fostering a culture of reading and learning in the community. The Library not only offers a vast collection of books, but also provides a space for individuals to engage in various educational activities, such as workshops and seminars.

AUA Extension is the non-degree educational program of the American University of Armenia (AUA), with programs especially geared to meeting the educational needs of individuals from diverse backgrounds and occupations, as well as governments and corporate organizations. AUA Extension offers a comprehensive range of courses and certificate programs, including language classes, test preparation courses, and a wide range of professional development training. Through its regional centers around Armenia, AUA Extension expands opportunities for locals to thrive and contribute to the development of their communities. Additionally, AUA Extension provides testing services on behalf of various standardized tests for college admission and exams for international professional certification.