Reaching Out to the Displaced Children of Artsakh
Soon after the Artsakh War broke out on September 27, formal and non-formal educational structures in Artsakh quickly corroded, communities were displaced and fragmented, while educational endeavors were halted, and institutions demolished or closed. The American University of Armenia (AUA) took a position at the forefront of rendering humanitarian assistance through organized efforts initiated by faculty, staff, students and alumni. One such initiative is the Children of Artsakh program launched on October 10 by a group of volunteers comprising AUA instructors and students of the Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (MATEFL) and Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (CTEFL), together with the EEC Afterschool English Program.
The Children of Artsakh program was set up to alleviate, to the extent possible, the devastating impact of the war on the education of children who had fled the war taking refuge in Yerevan. What started with a small group of children in one of the shelters has gradually expanded to draw larger numbers of displaced children from Artsakh. A completely new topic-based curriculum, including communicative games, hands-on tasks, and other authentic activities, has since been developed that duly addresses the needs, abilities, and interests of the children participating in the program.
The Children of Artsakh program has adopted an organizational structure that supports the sustained delivery of instruction through a co-teaching system that has proved to be quite viable and constructive. TEFL students and EEC teachers work closely together in realizing the learning objectives of the program commensurate with the established teaching methodology and standards of the TEFL programs and the AUA Center for Research in Applied Linguistics (CRAL).
“I am so thankful for this opportunity,” said one of the teachers. “Seeing those beautiful eyes brighten up while they are in class is the best reward one could wish for.”
The Children of Artsakh program reached Vanadzor by the end of November through the efforts of two more volunteering MATEFL second-year students. The tailored curriculum that was developed by MATEFL and CRAL is available to other volunteers who want to become goodwill ambassadors and contribute to this continuing effort.
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.