Teaching English to the Youth in Hrazdan – Next Step Project


by Nare Avagyan and Shoghik Chilingarian (Los Angeles, CA, USA)

Ten years of friendship, a great sense of love for our motherland, a never-ending thirst for new adventures and one sunny summer day in a café is what became the spark of what was just an idea a year ago to an unexpected life changing experience. One of our common conversations grew more serious once the idea sparked about giving back to our homeland. Many great experiences throughout our college years and understanding the importance of positive influences inspired and motivated us to give back to the youth in Armenia. Thanks to the financial support of the Birthright Armenia Next Step Fund we were able to turn our ideas into action.  It was our pleasure to create our very own community project in Hrazdan, Armenia this summer, which aimed to provide opportunities for local youth to develop their knowledge of the English language.

Although we have both been involved in many community projects in a team setting, this was our very first major experience creating and planning a project of our own. We had some challenges to overcome, for example, the different environment, mentality and interaction with people we did not know. “How will we organize a location for the classes and find interested students to participate, while we are still in the US?  Which students will benefit the most? How will the students feel about such a program? Will they welcome it?” Looking back, we understand that our biggest encouragement in all this was the fact that we were working together and always supporting one another. After all, “to try is to risk failure, but risks must be taken because a person who risks nothing does nothing.”

Throughout our experience, we built many strong friendships with the local citizens in Hrazdan. We are very thankful to the school principles, Mr. Barseghyan (school #10), Mrs. Harutunyan (school #13), Mr. Khachatryan (Vocational College), and Mrs. Movsisyan, who supported our project by providing space in their schools, where we held our orientation meetings. Special thanks to Mrs. Movsisyan who kindly opened her classrooms for students from different schools to com.  Last but not least, we want to thank Birthright Armenia for supporting us because without their financial support and encouragement, this project would not have run as smoothly as it did. We were able to put our project into action and make a difference in the lives of many bright students. It has been a rewarding experience to see the enthusiasm of these students for education and new opportunities. The interaction has had a very positive impact on us as well, because we have realized that we made a difference in the lives of these students. Accomplishing this project has motivated and given us the confidence to continue to take greater risks in the future in order to give back to our homeland because we know now that “an idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.”

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