CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Joe Cahaly, a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Class of 2024, spoke about “Teaching in Armenia: An MIT Student’s Experience at the TUMO Center” on Sunday, April 30, during “Trinity Talks,” the monthly parishioner-led presentation following church services at Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Cambridge.
During January, Cahaly, along with 20 fellow MIT students, undergraduates and graduates in all majors, participated in the four-week MIT International Science and Technology Initiative (MISTI) in Armenia. This past summer, he participated in a similar teaching program in Singapore through the MIT-Singapore MISTI program.
In preparation for teaching in Armenia, Cahaly was asked to develop a curriculum on Artificial Intelligence (AI) that he would teach at two TUMO Centers for Creative Technologies. The first two-week “learning lab” was at the flagship TUMO Center in Yerevan and the second two weeks were at the TUMO Center in Dilijan. At each center, the daily, four-hour after-school “learning labs” were held from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The TUMO Centers offer free after-school educational programs for 12- to18-year-olds. The standard curriculum begins with a “self-learning period” followed by classes taught by TUMO Instructors, Joe explained. Additionally, there are more intensive “learning labs” to which he was assigned and led.
“The students are highly motivated, curious, intelligent and eager to learn. They share a strong work ethic and are invested in learning,” Cahaly commented. Most students were in high school, a few in college. All had prior coding experience, which was a prerequisite for the class.
Most of the students in his class in Yerevan were girls and lived nearby. In Dilijan, however, most were boys who lived in villages and commuted. Some from far away stayed at the TUMO Center. Six students from Artsakh, due to the blockade, were unable to make the journey to join the classes or participate virtually because of lack of electricity. The classes were videoed to be available later.