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Artsakh President Praises AAA’s Summer Intern Program in Armenia, Encourages Students to Participate

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

Applications for Summer of 2019 Now Available


Armenian Assembly Summer Internship Program Class of 2018 with Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan and Foreign Minister Masis Mayilyan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) President Bako Sahakyan praised the Armenian Assembly of America’s (Assembly) Summer Internship Program in Armenia, and encouraged young Armenian Americans to take part in this unique and educational experience. Each year, President Sahakyan meets with the Assembly’s summer internship class and speaks directly with the participants about current issues.

“The Armenian Assembly of America’s Summer Internship Program offers our compatriots the unique opportunity to truly experience Armenia and Artsakh. Visiting Artsakh, the interns not only explore and discover our country’s rich history and culture, they also meet with the people and various officials. That is one of my summer highlights as well – the opportunity to discuss our current issues with our next generation of leaders,” the President of Artsakh stated. “I wholeheartedly support this program and its expansion and encourage young Armenian-Americans to engage in it,” he concluded.

The summer program features lectures and discussions with a wide range of officials and tours around the homeland, in both Armenia and Artsakh. The eight-week internship program based in Yerevan is packed with educational activities, including meetings with prominent individuals from civil society and political leaders, aimed at helping the participants better understand the socio-political situation in the region.

The Armenian Assembly Summer Internship Program in Yerevan class of 2018 included:

  1. Lillian Avedian from Woodland Hills, California, attending University of California, Berkeley, interned at Hetq news agency as an investigative journalist.

  2. Raffi Barsamian from Sherborn, Massachusetts, attending Middlebury College, interned at ArmComedy Live.

  3. George Hamalian from Glendale, California, attending California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, interned at the Federation of Youth Clubs of Armenia.

  4. Janae Knight from Clarkston, Michigan, attending University of Michigan, interned at Oknooshoon training therapy dogs.

  5. Jivan Purutyan from Concord, Massachusetts, attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute, interned at the Eurasian Partnership Foundation.

  6. Justin Tramonti from Concord, Massachusetts, attending Fordham University, interned at the Matenadaran, The Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts.

  7. Eric Zakharian from San Jose, California, attending University of San Francisco, interned at PicsArt as a web developer.

In addition to this year’s summer interns, Varant and Areny Tchalikian from Northridge, California interned in the Armenian Assembly’s office at Republic Square as part of the Assembly’s two-week high school pilot program.


Armenian Assembly summer interns at Republic Square in Yerevan

“In 1999, the Armenian Assembly of America launched its Summer Internship Program in Armenia to encourage college-aged Armenian-American students to experience life in our ancestral homeland. Working and living in Yerevan offers interns a unique perspective on issues and realities in Armenia and promises to change your life,” said Assembly Regional Director Arpi Vartanian.

“I feel like this summer has energized my desire to come back to Armenia and live here and open my eyes to the ways that I can help Armenia, what the issues are, and what is needed. That was one of my main goals for coming here and I feel like I fulfilled that – which is great – thanks to this program,” Lillian Avedian stated. “Come to Armenia and do this program!”

“I am proud I took the first step on what will most likely be a life-long journey of learning the Armenian language. After four weeks of lessons, I picked up some basic writing, reading, and speaking skills, as well as basic grammar. Hopefully, I will continue learning Armenian and will return in the near future with more fluency,” Justin Tramonti said.

“There were so many highlights to the trip that it’s hard to pick! The four-day trip to southern Armenia and Artsakh definitely contained my favorite places that we visited,” Tramonti shared. “This program is worth checking out. You get the best of everything: you get autonomy, you get to pursue your own career goals and interests through the internship wherever they set you up and on the weekends, and you get to experience Armenia and the amazing things this country has to offer,” he added.


Armenian Assembly summer interns with U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills, Jr.

This year’s Assembly interns met with U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, Jr., Yerevan-based Regional Studies Center Founder and Director Richard Giragosian, International Center for Human Development Founder and President Tevan Poghosyan (and Pro Bono Advisor to President Armen Sarkissian), Women’s Support Center, Oknooshoon, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Solar System Ambassador Elena Semerdjian.

Participants visited a wide range of cultural and heritage sites around Armenia including: Areni Cave, Armenian Genocide Memorial & Museum, Charents Arch, Etchmiadzin, Garni Temple, Geghard Monastary, Goris, Khor Virap, Lake Sevan, the Matenadaran, National History Museum, Noravank, Vernissage, Wings of Tatev, and Zvartnots. In Garni, interns joined in the annual Vardavar celebrations.


Armenian Assembly summer interns at the Armenian Genocide Memorial

Moreover, the interns participated in various activities throughout the country. In the Kotayk Region, they cheerfully volunteered a full day to work with Fuller Center for Housing-Armenia and help build a home for a family. They toured the Armenia Tree Project’s Karin Nursery and planted seedlings, discovered the Voskevaz Winery, and toured Gyumri, where they learned from a Master Artisan how to make miniature paintings, creating their own souvenirs.

“The Assembly gives you a platform and an outlet to really discover what Armenia is about, what it’s like, and also puts yourself in a position where you are able to give back,” stated Raffi Barsamian.


Armenian Assembly summer interns at the Armenia Tree Project’s Karin Nursery

The group travelled to Stepanakert, where they met with President Sahakyan, National Assembly Chairman Ashot Ghoulian, Foreign Minister Masis Mayilyan, and Ombudsman Ruben Melikyan. While in Artsakh, the interns visited the ancient cities of Shushi and Tigranakert, Gandzasar Monastery, Dadivank, Haterq Village’s annual Zhingyalov Hats Festival, “We Are Our Mountains” Monument (Tatik-Papik), and met with The HALO Trust staff, who clears landmines in the area and makes Artsakh safe for its citizens.

“What I really like about the Assembly internship is that it gives you both structure and freedom. There are events, things planned, meetings, and excursions, but there is also enough free time built in that you can explore Armenia for yourself,” Jivan Purutyan said.

Before completing their internship programs, interns attended the launch of the Armenian National Institute’s exhibit on the YMCA’s humanitarian assistance in Armenia 100 years ago, organized by the Armenian Assembly.


Armenian Assembly summer interns viewing the ANI exhibit on the YMCA

To find out more about the 2018 summer interns’ experience in Armenia, visit the Assembly’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube pages.

Applications are now available for the Armenian Assembly’s summer internship programs in Yerevan, Armenia (deadline: January 10, 2019) and Washington, D.C. (deadline: December 10, 2018).

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.


NR#: 2018-047

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