Group Teaches Modern Methods to Educators in Armenia, Artsakh

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By Tamara Babaian

In August 2021 the Armenians Forward Together (AFT) Forum in Yerevan brought together more than 25 different organizations, including business, nonprofits and governmental agencies, and over 200 individuals interested in sharing about their work and creating new collaborative ties. Participants from eight different countries came together in three days of presentations and workshops, aimed at strengthening Armenia and Artsakh. While the AFT website and social media channels document the Forum’s activities and press coverage, this article highlights one volunteer organization, EduArmenia, and ways in which Armenians living in the diaspora contribute their experience and knowledge in a mission to elevate primary and secondary education in Armenia and Artsakh.

Vicky Kherlopian lives in Belmont, Mass. After a distinguished and fulfilling career as a mathematics and ESL teacher, she now works as a Boston University field supervisor, supervising teacher candidates for Elementary Education Certification and Bilingual/ELL Teaching Certification.

Mrs. Kherlopian is also very well-known to the education specialists and teachers all over Armenia as a devoted member of EduArmenia. She shares her wisdom, experience and knowledge of the teaching methodologies and program administration through preparing written materials as well as conducting online seminars over Zoom. Hundreds of teachers from different regions of Armenia and Artsakh get inspired and learn from the work that Vicky and other volunteers put into supporting and enriching the education culture in Armenia.

“It is a great satisfaction to work with our teachers in Armenia and Artsakh,” Vicky says. “They are very dedicated and hungry to incorporate global education into their practice. It is our duty to encourage their enormous hard work and civic responsibility to shape the future generations through excellent education. We need to spark a national conversation about transforming teaching for the 21st century. EduArmenia brings a group of professionals from around the world to promote educational success, professional excellence, and collaborative teaching. These important ideas brought my interests to join EduArmenia  to share my experiences and bring my humble contribution to the education system in Armenia.”

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EduArmenia’s founders are Seda Kocharyan, an experienced Social Sciences teacher, and Lilit Mktrchyan, a professor of History at Yerevan State University, who created EduArmenia in 2018, as a volunteering platform through which experienced educators of Armenia and diaspora can work together on professional development programs. The two work tirelessly in their spare time every day to implement many important initiatives. During the post-war period, the professionalism and devotion of EduArmenia’s leaders and volunteers helped lift Armenia’s teachers from depression and hopelessness; one of the teachers expressed her admiration, even writing a poem about it.

EduArmenia has volunteers from outside of Armenia: Yeprem Mehranian, Marine Khachadour and Karine Armen from the US, while Talar Partiyan is from the Netherlands. The remote work that became commonplace during the Covid period enabled their close and effective collaboration with the EduArmenia team.

After presenting its work at the AFT Forum,  EduArmenia attracted the interest of many Forum participants, including  Araksya Gukasova from Moscow, Russia who calls herself “a regular person.” In the 1990s, Mrs. Gukasova fled Baku, escaping the ethnic cleansing perpetrated against the Armenian population of the city, and has made a new life and a career as a teacher of English in Moscow. Araksya writes about the Forum and her volunteer work with EduArmenia:  “After the last war I was, like all my nation, miserable and disappointed.” After learning that she can find people who share her desire to be useful to the reconstruction of the Motherland at the AFT Forum, “I managed to get to Yerevan and met a lot of interesting, exciting and enthusiastic people. The atmosphere in those days was so positive and friendly.  I realized where my competences could yield benefits and I offered my services to some people. Nowadays, I collaborate with a volunteer organization EduArmenia, and lead online seminars about contemporary teaching methods.”

“I hope that can be helpful for teachers from Armenia and Artsakh. The priority goal of the country is the task of youth upbringing and education, that is why EduArmenia is doing a great job! I believe we’ll do it,“ says Araksya.  All EduArmenia’s seminars are free and accessible on their YouTube channel. Watching the lively and warm interaction between the participants, it is impossible not to be moved by their spirit of mutual support, appreciation and desire for learning and positive change.

EduArmenia representatives at the AFT gathering in Armenia

EduArmenia’s presentation at the AFT Forum is available on the AFT YouTube channel among others, that span many domains, from education to community development, healthcare, technology transfer, and digital health. The Armenians Forward Together organizing committee is planning the next Forum in the summer of 2022 in Armenia and is looking to hear from people and organizations interested in meeting new partners and making new collaborative plans together.

(Prof. Tamara Babaian is a co-founder of Armenians Forward Together initiative. She teaches at Bentley University.)

 

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