CYSCA’s Alisa Stepanian, third from left, and Jack Medzorian, second from right, with CYSCA guests from Armenia.

CYSCA Receives Grant from Congress to Host Young Activists from Armenia

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA) has again been awarded a grant from the United States Library of Congress to take part in the Open World (OW) program. For many years, CYSCA has hosted young professionals from Armenia to help promote various facets of democracy and diplomacy. Five individuals, along with a facilitator, will first arrive in Washington, DC for an orientation program hosted by OW, and then will fly to Boston on November 30for an eight-day program organized by CYSCA. The OW program is managed by its Leadership Center to enhance understanding and cooperation between the United States and countries of Eurasia. The program, initiated by OW through the US Embassy in Armenia, and implemented by CYSCA, aims to give Armenian participants first-hand exposure to America’s democratic government and free-market system to Eurasian leaders as an instrument for Americans engaged in citizens’ diplomacy.

CYSCA has organized this year’s program to consist of visits to civil society organizations that hold governments accountable/transparent, and hosting meetings with individuals in different levels of government. Meetings will include interactive lectures, hands-on workshops, and discussions on promotion of activism and leadership. The goals and objectives of the project are to: forge cooperative links with local organizations/individuals who are activists or leaders; encourage American individuals who are activists or leaders to visit Armenia to promote activism and transition to leadership; and develop a network of activists and leaders for further collaboration between the two countries.

The recent Velvet Revolution in Yerevan was led by youth who, outside of formal systems, organized and enacted an effective civil disobedience and public pressure campaign to hold leaders accountable and steer Armenia to a more democratic track. They were inspired by western democratic values. This Open World program is aimed at building on activists’ initiatives by demonstrating to them how the US has worked to promote activism and transitions to leadership among government, civil society organizations and laypeople.

CYSCA is a sister city association that has partnered Cambridge with the city of Yerevan since 1987. Over the past 30 years, CYSCA has hosted more than 22 professional development programs, 10 reciprocal school partnerships/student and teacher exchanges, environmental programs, school aid projects, business/entrepreneurship training, and numerous historical/cultural projects, theater management, museum management, aviation management, university administration, secondary school educators, and countless humanitarian assistance projects for Armenia. For more information about the OW program and/or to join in the hosting of the participants, contact Alisa Stepanian at asteoanian@aol.com, Jack Medzorian at jmedzorian@aol.com, or visit CYSCA’s website at www.cambridgeyerevan.org.

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