This page was last updated Thurs June 28,201 1:43 p.m. EST


Community Connections

Community Connections 2001 alumna reminisces fondly
June 27, 2012

Community Connections 2001 alumna reminisces fondly: Lianna Hakobyan, Director of the Music and Art College, Kapan, Armenia, wrote us a letter recently looking back on her three week training program eleven years ago.

An Unforgettable Experience

Again — spring, love, and memories. I remember the unforgettable twenty days spent during May 2001 in a place behind the ocean — Boston, MA, USA, where life seemed to be something else. Only twenty days, and I understood that you can live for such a short time feeling so satisfied, so nice and unforgettable, that it seems you have lived a century.

That twenty days left an indelible "track" in my life and memories, and I recall every day and every second spent with my host family. I can certainly say that those days were the best pages of my life. They are pages on which you can write the words "humanity, generosity, and patriotism" with red ink; pages where you can read about thankfulness and glorifying admiration for an Armenian with capital letters; pages which tell us about great patriotism and love for one 's heritage.

On the 4th day of May 2001 I left for the USA with nine other school directors under a program organized and hosted by the Cambridge Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA) with funding support by a U.S. government program called "Community Connections". Harutyun and Anahid Maranjian (Maranci), an Armenian family whose ancestors had escaped from the Genocide and found shelter in a foreign country, hosted me for twenty days. CYSCA organized and hosted our group to a 20-day full program of visits, lectures and panel discussions with leading educators and educational institutions in the Greater Boston area to enhance our educational experience with best practices in the USA. In addition, they incorporated visits to regional cultural and historic sites. In all, I had a most unforgettable experience.

When I entered the Maranjian house, my heart was excited. Somewhere, in the corner of the room, somebody was playing the piano wonderfully. Today, ten years later, I still hear the beautiful music of Chopin that I enjoyed for the first time in America with an Armenian family. I could never imagine that I would listen to Chopin 's works in an Armenian house far away in the USA. Everything was so simple and so transparent in that house.

From the first moment I entered that house, I understood that I was in a new world. I lived with my host family only twenty days, but I felt their deep and tender care, devotion, warmth and regard for a woman. I noticed how surprising and mysterious people and nature can be. Love and homesickness can make people generous and honest, but those who live in their homeland never appreciate the true worth of this "reward". The Maranjian family ancestors had a difficult and cruel past. First Turkish-occupied Armenia, then France, the USA and finally Boston.

Anahit is a gentle and attractive woman and her husband Haroutyun, kind and endearing. The Maranjians surrounded me with attention, care and love. Haroutyun took me to places of interest in Boston where you can enjoy yourself and understand that there are many values that make you live and fight and also understand that life is wonderful and a present given by God. Haroutyun had met an Armenian in the USA who was interested in cultural and spiritual values, not in money, restaurants and hotels.

Haroutyun is an astonishing man with a sense of humour. I could listen to him for hours. I smiled and laughed easily and felt sorry for the nighttime when I had to sleep. He knows Armenia very well though he has never been there. He had a silent homesickness and longing in his heart as he spoke sadly that he had not visited Armenia.

Twenty days later, I returned home to Armenia with great difficulty. A year later I had a serious heart operation in Yerevan. The distance between us prevented the Maranjians from being with me. We loved each other as relatives. They sent medicine that I needed but couldn't get in Armenia. Ten years have passed since my visit and the Maranjians continue to buy and send medicine to me without my asking.

I want to express my gratitude to CYSCA and especially the family of Haroutyun and Anahit. I would like to see both of you in your homeland and especially in Kapan to ease your pain and for me to repay your kindness. And the compact disc which you gave me is kept like a treasured memory. When we meet again, I will sing a song to show my thankfulness.

With my great respect and love…

Lianna Hakobyan, Director of the Music and Art College, Kapan, Armenia, CYSCA Community Connectionsi shrjanavart (alumnus), year 2001

Community Connections Update

Arusik Safaryan who participated in the 2009 Social Work training program wrote to us on October 12 reporting on very interesting developments in her work training social workers for posts in Armenian schools, where there is now a great demand.


It is more than two years I took part in the program "Social workers trainings in the USA". That was a good chance for us to study the experience of Social Work Institute in Massachusetts, USA. And you did a lot for carrying out the aim of the program. And as the cultural influences on social work profession are a lot, that was good opportunity for us to study the culture there, too. We still remember the days we spent in the USA when our group or part of it gathers. We have nice memories. I want to share with you my achievements as you also are interested in it.

Besides the Action Plan we worked out when we were in Boston, I did a lot as a result of my visit. I have used and still use all the opportunities to share with my colleges what I have studied there. It is so useful to tell something with the examples, what I have done even during my trainings. The most important achievement of the program is designing the social pedagogues/social workers/social consultants institute in Armenian schools.

I had worked as a social pedagogue at one of the high schools before my visit. The program and especially the visits to the schools we had in the framework of our program helped me to develop the idea and work out the model of Social pedagogue at High School. In October 2010 I presented my job to the representative of the Ministry of Education in RA and was asked to work out job description for that position at schools. I succeeded in it and many High School principals asked me for consultation for their specialists. This year again using my ideas which I got from the visits to schools in Boston /even the school for children with special needs/ I have worked out a new pilot program which is aimed to develop the social work in schools. I try to show that it is much more affective to have a social worker/pedagogue instead of the form monitor The social work at schools is appreciated highly when they see the results.

Now almost all the High schools in the republic want to have that specialist. I’m asked to organize the training for all the specialists in Armavir region. The field is just new for us and there is a lot to do; to train the specialists, to spread common knowledge among the students, parents and even the teachers and principals at schools. You know our culture is much more conservative for getting something new but we need to break the stereotypes and go ahead. So, thank you again and all the people who were involved in the program and supported our participation in it. I’m so grateful and want to share the achievement with you and the others.

Sincerely yours
Arusik Safaryan

Success Story:Armenian university administrator reports on successful results of 2010 Community Connections CYSCA University Administrator Training Program.
By: Anushavan Makaryan, Advisor to Dean of Ijevan Universtiy, Armenia
A Success Story

From October 7 to 28, 2010 I was a participant in a group of ten university administrators from Armenia who spent three weeks in Boston on a program which was aimed towards workforce development and University collaboration. The program, called "Community Connections" was funded by a grant from the USAID, administered by World Learning International, and hosted and developed by the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association.

The main purpose of the program was to learn about administrative aspects of universities in the US, their structure, educational divisions, management and create an effective collaboration which will impact on the improvement of higher education in Armenia.

We had visits to many renowned universities in New England, such as: Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, UMass, Bentley, Lesley, Tufts, Middlesex Community College where we learned about their educational programs. Thanks to CYSCA, the whole program was informative and full of events. The group had many important and professional meetings with faculty members in different universities where we learned about the curriculum, programs to improve the quality of education, the credit system, and the research and volunteer programs that are available to students.

The cultural part of the program was great too. We had a chance to visit places where we could see old and new American history. We met with the Armenian community in Boston area, like members of Knights of Vartan, visited NAASR, Armenian Cultural Foundation, ALMA.

But the most important dynamics were the professional meetings, where we obtained so much valuable information, knowledge and skills. During many discussions new ideas were born and those ideas were implemented into our action plans.

My colleague Arkadi Davtyan and I represented the Ijevan branch of Yerevan State University. The branch is relatively new, therefore it needs professional improvement and educational development. We applied the experience we got in the USA in 2 different spheres: curriculum development and improvement in the quality of education. First, we strengthened the committee which controls the quality of education in our university and made changes in the strategic programs where we identified the obstacles and the main problems of the university and offered solutions. Second, the programs that implement the Bologna credit system (college credit system) were reviewed.

Based on the Harvard University Alumni Association and Lesley University Career Resource Center models we created the same Alumni and Career Resource centers in our Ijevan branch. Harvard's Derek Bok Center experience helped us to create Young Professors' Council.

We visited NE Association of Higher Education. The visit had a tremendous impact on us. We learned about accreditation programs, self-evaluation and the structure of the Association. Using that knowledge, Arkadi and I teamed to create a new accreditation model within our university which is being applied in other universities of Armenia. With the help of the materials and the skills obtained during our visits in Boston, we administered the institutional development and self-evaluation program in our branch. The experts in the Armenian Center for professional Education Quality Assurance (ANQA) were very pleased to see all the positive changes done in our branch. After several meetings and discussions with ANQA I was offered a position to be the Quality Assessment Expert for the educational institutions in Armenia as well as a quality expert within the center.

This career change would not have been possible if it were not the opportunity to visit Boston through the Community Connections program, if we did not exchange the knowledge with the US counterparts, and if we did not learn from the US professionals during our visit. I want to express my personal gratitude to the US government through its USAID for making this experience so productive.

Special thanks to Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA), the hosting families, program director Jack Medzorian, project manager Alisa Stepanian, project coordinator Armine Medzorian and all the volunteers who made this program possible.

Anushavan Makaryan
Ph.D in Physics and Math
Advisor to the President of the University
ANQA specialist
Success story: 2004 Community Connections participant grows her graphics company in Yerevan.
(Adapted from a report on the Women's Entrepreneurship Program of the Armenian International Women's Association (AIWA.)

Nune Arazyan has managed ARD Global in Yerevan which she established in partnership with her Nune Arazyanhusband, Mr. David Arazyan, since 2002. ARD Global is a graphics company dealing with exterior and interior projection, design and implementation of a variety of indoor and outdoor signs. In 2004 Nune took part in a Community Connections exchange program, organized by Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA) of Boston USA. During her study in Boston she visited a similar organization and got familiarized with their work and ways of management. After her exchange program Nune had a good opportunity to use the skills and knowledge obtained in Boston and came up with an idea to enlarge the business, to adopt new technologies for large format printing and digital engraving and establish a new division. Later in 2004 ARD Global purchased 3 new pieces of equipment (high photorealistic full color large format eco solvent inkjet printing, A3 laser color printer and digital sharp cutting/engraving machine) - opened a new division, offered three new workplaces.

AIWA WEP (Women's Entrepreneurship Program) gave Nune knowledge and skills which she used in developing a Business Plan to apply to banks to obtain loans in realizing yet another innovative idea in advertising. Nowadays ARD Global offers its clients new and required products for companie's promotional activities, namely mobile display systems and promotion tables and shelves. A recent AIWA Grant in 2010 helped Nune with partial payment of one the latest printing machines in the industry, securing sustainable business for ARD Global and employment opportunities for Armenian technicians. Nune currently is the Deputy Director and Manager of the printing department of ARD Global.

While ARD Global works out of rented office space, management of the company is seeking financial resources to construct a new building for the office and a workshop. Nune would like to cooperate with similar companies abroad, to establish links with peers and get updated information about relevant businesses.
E-mail address:
Web Address:

By: Jack Medzorian
WL- Univ Adm Article re Tatyana, Kurkjian.jpg
Above: Journalism students in Yerevan on-line with Stephen Kurkjian

On December 16, 2010, renowned journalist and retired award-winning Boston Globe newspaper reporter Stephen Kurkjian gave an online lecture for journalism students of the State Language University named after V. Bryusov in Yerevan,Armenia.

The subject was investigative journalism. Mr Kurkjian shared his experiences, presented the main aspects of investigative journalism, talked about obstacles which could occur in their professional lives as journalists. The lecture was very unique in its content. It took 3 weeks for the university to negotiate and resolve all the time difference issues and technical difficulties to make it happen. With the help of the technology, the lecture was conducted online from Boston. It went smoothly and without any problems. There was a discussion session and Q&A following the lecture. Mr. Kurkjian answered the students’ questions with great pleasure and promised to have more online meetings with them.

Stephen Kurkjian worked as a journalist and an editor since 1968 for the Boston Globe newspaper. During his professional years he was awarded the Pulitzer prize 3 times for his outstanding investigative research. He also received 22 state and national awards.

The idea to conduct an online lecture to exchange the American investigative journalism methods and ideas came from Tatyana Hovhanissyan the head of the Scientific-Educational center at V. Bryusov Language University. She had visited Boston October 2010 on a three-week USAID funded Community Connections program “University Partnership and Workforce Development” hosted by the Cambrdige-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA) and administered by Washington-based World Learning, Inc. CYSCA Program Director Jack Medzorian arranged a visit by Tatyana to the “Boston Globe” and Boston University School of Journalism. She met Mr. Kurkjian and discussed the present main problems in journalism, challenges and the future, as well as necessary modern teaching methods worldwide. During the visit the idea of collaboration was born. Being Armenian, Mr. Kurkjian immediately showed his willingness to assist journalists in Armenia, to share his experience and knowledge and to be part of the collaboration. The first step was this online lecture.

Commenting on the on-line lecture, Steve Kurkjian reported to Jack Medzorian, “I want to let you know that your efforts didn't end when the specialists left Boston in October. I connected with Tatyana via SKYPE late in December after having met her here in Boston and agreeing to give a lecture to her students about my work in journalism. Having spent my career in journalism, particularly as an investigative reporter, I love the opportunity to impart what I have learned about the importance of journalism and the techniques that I have learned to students. I teach a course in Investigative Journalism at Boston College and speak at least a dozen times a year to journalism students at local colleges and even a few high schools. So for me to be able to share my experience with students in Yerevan, whose heritage I share, was an inspiring opportunity which I must thank you for.

Our on-line call lasted over an hour, and while I gave them some pointers in my lecture about reporting and interviewing, I think the question & answer program provided me an opportunity to communicate my ideas - and see how important it is for programs like yours to thrive. I was able to underscore to them that the lessons they are learning to become journalists are the same that journalism students here in America - and in countries all over the world- must learn.

I stressed to them that while our work may not be the most financially rewarding, it is noble work as it brings to the public's attentions issues that they must know about to make better decisions in their community, in their country as well as in their own families. When we do that work right, there is no greater achievement that we can do as public citizens. But I also tried to convey to them that there is a great responsibility in how we do our work - that there should be no shortcuts in the thoroughness, fairness and independence that we practice in reporting and publishing our stories. It is the only way that we will attain and retain credibility, that the public will trust us and our reporting.

I had a wonderful time meeting the University Administrators that you brought to Cambridge/Boston in your latest program. And I realized first-hand from that hour-long discussion with those students in Tatyana's class how important it is for the Community Connections program to achieve a primary goal of bringing communication, understanding and education between us.

Congratulations, and thanks for allowing me to be a part of it”.


The Center for Ecological-Noosphere Studies (Eco-Centre) in Yerevan, Armenia performs outstanding research and analysis related to critical areas of Armenia’s ecology and environmental protection. As a non-profit NGO established in 1989, the Eco-Centre has earned an international reputation for original work on critical environmental issues of the Republic as well the Southern Caucuses region. There are 52 employees working at the Eco-Centre, 31 of them researchers (3 Doctors of Science and 17 PhDs).

The Eco-Centre has multi-disciplinary problem solving teams of scientists working in their laboratories dealing with environmental geochemistry, biogeochemical cycles, biomonitoring, radioecology, bioenergy, mapping of natural resources, geopathogenic zones, data bases in environmental protection and other analytical areas. The lab is accredited by the state and is equipped with a variety of analytical equipment. They utilize internationally recognized methodology conforming to international (ISO) standards. Much of their work is performed on a contract basis funded by international organizations like NATO, UNESCO, NFSAT (National Foundation for Science and Technology), CRDF (Center for Research and Development Foundation), IAEA (International Atomic Energy Administration), USAID, and others. Their work is under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences.

Projects in Armenia address public health and nature protection/preservation issues involving toxic chemicals in water, soil air, foods, in mining. agricultural, manufacturing, energy sectors as well as protection of nature and forests. During October 2010, the Eco-Centre’s director Dr. Armen Saghatelyan, collaborated on a first of its kind, successful Science Festival in Yerevan organized by Dr. Gayane Poghossyan, State Committee on Science, with financial support from the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association, Inc. and other organizations. It is expected that the Science Festival will become an annual tradition, contributing to the increase in individuals, especially youth, becoming attracted to science. For more information on the Eco-Centre see website

One of the challenges facing the Eco-Centre is the difficulty in obtaining reagents required for the analysis of certain samples, mainly due to the blockade imposed by neighboring Turkey and Azerbaijan. This presents a problem for air transport of reagents, resulting in time consuming delays, costly transportation and even a ban on many reagents that are forbidden to be transported by air. The center has appealed for donation of an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer (XRF), laboratory or portable models to enable on site analysis of soil and ores. No reagents are needed for XRF analysis and there are no XRF spectrometers in Armenia. Also, a dedicated mercury analyzer is desirable, as there are many applications that can be done with such an instrument, including analysis of children’s blood samples. Used equipment in working condition would be quite satisfactory for them and would be greatly appreciated. Individuals who would like to help the Eco-Centre and are in a position to obtain such equipment for a tax-deductible donation should contact the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association, Inc. c/o Jack Medzorian


CYSCA Community Connections Alumnus Reports On Follow-on Program in Armenia

CYSCA Community Connections alumnus Armen Harutyunyan, Deputy Director of the Yerevan State Institute of Theater and Cinema, initiated a comprehensive survey on theater management practices in several theaters across Armenia in 2009. As a result of numerous meetings, interviews and research he compiled a detailed report and, with support from the Ministry of Culture, the document will be published and used as a guide for specialists in the field of theater management.

Armen Harutyunyan-1.jpg

Armen Harutyunyan participated in the June 2008 Theater Management training program, organized and hosted by CYSCA, which took place in Boston, MA. Harutyunyan was specifically impressed with the presentation made by Richard Maloney, Assistant Director of the Arts Administration Program at Boston University. The presentation covered fundamental elements of teaching and managerial techniques in US academic institutions, as well as challenges faced by administrators in the arts field.

Upon his return to Armenia, Harutyunyan shared his enthusiasm with his colleagues and recruited a team of art specialists and sociologists to launch a national survey on theater management practices in Armenia. The survey highlighted the differences between private and state as well as regional and capital-based theaters. The findings of the survey revealed important trends in theater management and were highly appreciated by experts and the government, including the Ministry of Culture. The survey offers a number of key recommendations to theater managers and will soon be published and distributed among the theater community throughout Armenia.

Expressing his appreciation for the training program organized by CYSCA, Harutyunyan commented, "Participation in the Theater Management program not only equipped me with rich cross-cultural experience, but also expanded my knowledge and expertise in theater management. We were able to adapt certain US practices despite the differences in how we run theaters in Armenia and the US."


CYSCA to Host Three-Week Training Program

On October 7, 2010 ten administrators from Armenia's universities are scheduled to arrive in Boston for a three-week long cross-cultural training program organized by the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA). This will be the nineteenth group of professionals trained through CYSCA under the U. S. State Department "Community Connections" program in the past twelve years. The program is funded by a U. S. government grant and local volunteers, and is administered by World Learning, Inc. These participants represent the university management in Yerevan and the regions in Armenia and are coming to the Boston area to be trained in a comprehensive program addressing a variety of issues that are important to improving the quality of higher education in Armenia, including establishing curricula that is relevant to the workplace and creating stronger linkages with industry.


The guests were selected competitively under a program administered by Project Harmony's branch office in Yerevan. For its part, CYSCA has designed a training program including visits to several Greater Boston universities, namely Harvard, MIT, University of MA Boston, Lesley University, Northeastern University, Bentley University and Middlesex Community College. Also included are visits to various institutions such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Learning, New England Board of Higher Education, Campus Compact, Harvard Alumni Association, Harvard's Phillips Brooks House and university Career Centers. Another component of the cross-cultural program called "Experience America" includes visits to Boston area historic and cultural sites to gain a first-hand view of American history, culture, life style, beliefs and values. Through the generosity of CYSCA volunteers, the guests will stay at homes of local host families where they will experience the hospitality and lifestyle of an American home.

Action Plans

The group will be charged with creating action plans which they will implement upon their return back to Armenia. Some of the goals of this program include: achieving academic excellence, quality control, measurement of success, curriculum relevance to the workplace, cooperation with industry, university partnerships, adherence to international standards, student internships, etc. CYSCA will conduct three formal sessions to help the guests create concrete action plans based on what they learn in this CYSCA program.

Panel Discussion

On October 21, 2010 CYSCA will present a panel discussion at the headquarters of the National Association of Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), 395 Concord Avenue, Belmont, MA at 8pm, co-sponsored by CYSCA and NAASR. The 10 participants will share their views on issues and challenges concerning higher education in Armenia, and their impressions of American universities.

"We are privileged to have been chosen to host this prestigious group of administrators from Armenia's universities and anticipate that our training program will give them fresh, new ideas that they can implement when they return to improve the quality and effectiveness of higher education in Armenia", commented Jack Medzorian, CYSCA's Community Connections Program Director. The CYSCA staff for this project includes Alisa Stepanian, Project Manager; Armine Medzorian, Project Administrator; Richard Boyajian, Logistics Manager; and past CYSCA President Suzanne Pearce assisting as project advisor.

One of the participants, Vardan Sargsyan, Vice Rector of the Armenian State University of Economics, commenting on the program shortly before his departure for Boston, said, "Higher education in Armenia is on its way for deep reforms. We need to import more knowledge and implement the best experience in university management. We look forward to the program organized by CYSCA in Boston's famous universities to help us explore and understand the framework of higher education and university administration in the USA, as well as experience cultural and social activities to extend our awareness of customs, history, beliefs, and family life in the USA".

CYSCA, a non-profit organization, was established in 1987 as a brainchild of the Peace Commission of Cambridge, MA to transcend governments and substitute citizens' diplomacy to foster world peace during the cold war between the USA and the Soviet Union. It was believed that such an organization of citizens of the two cities would decrease tensions and increase understanding and strengthen ties between the two cities based on shared values. To date, successful and ongoing exchanges have taken place between city officials, educators, students, environmental scientists, entrepreneurs, musicians, visual artists, public health specialists, travel agents, social workers, museum managers, aviation managers, and countless other groups. For more information about CYSCA, please visit the website at

Seated L to R:  Husik Gevorkyan, European Regional Educational Academy; Bruce Boghosian, newly appointed President of the American University of Armenia; Jack Medzorian, CYSCA Vice President and Community Connections Program Director.  Standing L to R: Anushavan Makaryan, Yerevan State University Ijevan Branch; Vladimir Yeghiazaryan, Russian-Armenian (Slovanic) State University; Irina Babayan, Eurasia International University; Nune Amiryan, Project Harmony Project Manager, Tatyana Hovhannisyan, Yerevan State Linguistics University; Gurgen Hovhannisyan, Yerevan State University; Gagik Demirjian, State Pedagogical University Gyumri; missing from photo, Vardan Sargsyan, Armenian State University of Economics; Vachagan Melkonyan, Armenian State Agrarian University.
Seated L to R: Husik Gevorkyan, European Regional Educational Academy; Bruce Boghosian, newly appointed President of the American University of Armenia; Jack Medzorian, CYSCA Vice President and Community Connections Program Director. Standing L to R: Anushavan Makaryan, Yerevan State University Ijevan Branch; Vladimir Yeghiazaryan, Russian-Armenian (Slovanic) State University; Irina Babayan, Eurasia International University; Nune Amiryan, Project Harmony Project Manager, Tatyana Hovhannisyan, Yerevan State Linguistics University; Gurgen Hovhannisyan, Yerevan State University; Gagik Demirjian, State Pedagogical University Gyumri; missing from photo, Vardan Sargsyan, Armenian State University of Economics; Vachagan Melkonyan, Armenian State Agrarian University.


Community Connections alumnus Armen Harutyunyan, Deputy Director of the Yerevan State Institute of Theater and Cinema, initiated a comprehensive survey on theater management practices in several theaters across Armenia in 2009. As a result of numerous meetings, interviews and research he compiled a comprehensive report with support from the Ministry of Culture. The document will be published and used as a guide for specialists in the field of theater management.

Armen Harutyunyan participated in the June 2008 Theater Management exchange, which took place in Boston, MA. Harutyunyan was specifically impressed with the presentation made by Richard Maloney, Assistant Director of the Arts Administration Program at Boston University. The presentation covered fundamental elements of teaching and managerial techniques in US academic institutions, as well as challenges faced by administrators in the arts field.

Upon his return to Armenia, Harutyunyan shared his enthusiasm with his colleagues and recruited a team of art specialists and sociologists to launch a national

survey on theater management practices in Armenia. Mariam Ohanyan, a CC alumna from the Film Making program, also joined the group. The survey highlighted the differences between private and state as well as regional and capital based theaters. The findings of the survey revealed important trends in theater management and were highly appreciated by experts and the government, including the Ministry of Culture. The survey offers a number of key recommendations to theater managers and will soon be published and distributed among the theater community throughout Armenia.

"Participation in the Theater Management program not only equipped me with rich cross-cultural experience, but also expanded my knowledge and expertise in theater management. We were able to adapt some US practices despite the differences in how we run theaters in Armenia and the US", said Harutyunyan.

To download the PDF of the original article click HERE


Phyllis King NASW-MAChapter President                reprinted from NASW FOCUS vol.36 No.8 August 2009

Social Work is a very new profession in Armenia. Prior to the separation of Armenia from the Soviet Union in 1991, professional social work education and training did not exist. Dr. Nancy Humphries, former Dean of Social Work at the University of Connecticut and Past President of National NASW was responsible for this amazing development.

Ten social workers came to Boston recently under the auspices of the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association. Their three week experience was funded by the USAID Community Connections Visitor Exchange Program. It included visits to a wide variety of social service agencies, health and hospital services, school based programs, senior centers, the State House, and two Schools of Social Work, Simmons and University of Connecticut. The program included about thirty site visits, often with several speakers at each. Members of the group lived with host families, visited historic Boston, attended art and cultural events around the city, as well as discovering entertainments on their own.

Phyllis King, NASW-MA President (second row, center) with visiting Armenian Social Workers.

The visiting social workers, ranging in age from 23 to 60, diverse in experience, met with me for their initial overview of social work in the United States. Two hours flew by. People were so curious, and interested in everything. We had a wonderful interpreter, who was able to seamlessly move from Armenian to English. My talk cov- ered a brief history of social work in the U.S., the varied fields of social work practice, government, non-profit, and private services, educating the public about so-cial work services, the role of NASW in the development of the profession, licensing, continuing education, the central role of the Code of Ethics, and challenges to the profession.

Clearly, this was only a bird's eye view. The group will learn much in the comprehensive program planned for them. I look forward to attending their public wrap up session and will report about it in a future issue of FOCUS. Even in the short time I've been involved in this project, it is apparent that NASW has much to offer the newly developing social work profession in Armenia. I gave the visitors big yellow and black NASW tote bags, given out at previous Symposium events. I expect they proudly carried them wherever they went.

To download the PDF of the original article click HERE


Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA) concluded another successful training project, this one being for social work professionals from Armenia. This was a USAID funded project called Community Connections administered by World Learning, Inc. and developed and hosted by CYSCA. Ten social work professionals from Armenia spent three weeks in the Greater Boston area immersing themselves in the American system of social work. During their stay, they visited 26 different sites and met with over 50 presenters. Subjects ranged from education and licensure, to social work in different areas such as elementary schools, hospitals, foundations, domestic violence organizations, hospice, nursing homes, senior centers, adoption, government, disabled children, the poor and vulnerable population, and universities. The group was very interested and enlightened by everything they learned and are planning to implement many aspects of their experiences upon their return to Armenia under concrete action plans that CYSCA facilitated with them.

The participants represented three groups of work: government agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs), and education. They were a diverse group in every respect - age, background, interests; yet they all bonded together and became friends and learned from each other as well as from those in the United States.

During their stay, the participants took part in a panel discussion jointly sponsored by CYSCA and NAASR on June 25, 2009. At this time, they presented information on the realities in Armenia. They spoke about the various successes and barriers they encounter in areas such as funding, community outreach, and the current global economic crisis as well as new approaches and methodology they learned in the USA.

Since its inception following Armenia's independence in 1991, social work has been a growing industry. The government has begun to recognize the need for social services among Armenian people and is working with local NGOs to provide necessary support and assistance to vulnerable populations. However, more work lies ahead. The professionals in this group are well aware that although the foundation has been set and meaningful work has been achieved, there needs to be continuity of care with various individuals and groups in Armenia. Fortunately, the participants in the group represent various geographic areas of the country, allowing them to canvas more areas in their work. They also shared their experiences about their site visits in Boston. Each participant talked about a particular site in relation to his/her action plan and how that visit is helpful in putting together and implementing action plans upon returning to Armenia. Aftandil Markosyan, regional director of social work in the Tavush region, commented "We are impressed with the work of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in the USA and plan as a group action to create a similar organization in Armenia". The entire group expressed their gratitude and appreciation for a very full, structured, well-organized program.

A visit to University of Connecticut School of Social Work (UCONN) brought together old acquaintances- teachers and students who are part of an ongoing exchange program with the Yerevan State University (YSU), led by Professor Dr. Nancy Humphreys, head of the school of social work at UCONN. Since 1991, UCONN has had a relationship with YSU, where Nancy organized the first curriculum for social work. Arusyag Safaryan, social work faculty at YSU, commented, "We are excited that as a result of our visit we have now planned to jointly sponsor an international social work conference at YSU in 2010". Alisa Stepanian, CYSCA project manager observed, "This is exactly what our program is intended to do-connect communities!"

Reflecting on this CYSCA Community Connections program, the 18th since 1997, its Program Director Jack Medzorian, said, "We are proud to have been chosen by the USAID to implement this most important program and are convinced that our group, with their enthusiasm and newly acquired knowledge about social work in the USA, will 'make a difference ' in Armenia".

SocialWorkState Hse1.jpg
Flanking the speaker"s podium CYSCA social worker group from Armenia visiting the MA State House of Representatives. They were briefed about the social work system in MA by State Reps Alice Wolf (center rear), Jon Hecht right rear, and missing from photo State Rep Peter Koutoujian.
Community Connections, Armenian Students and Museums Benefit CC Alumna’s Experience
Alvard Girgoryan.jpg
Alvard Grigoryan is sharing the materials with her students
  • Theme: Museum Management
  • From: Yerevan, Armenia
  • Dates of the Program: August 2 - August 24, 2006
  • Host Organization: Cambridge- Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA)
  • Training Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Alvard Grigoryan, a lecturer at Yerevan State Pedagogical University, is using her position to support volunteerism in Armenia. Grigoryan, who spent three weeks in Cambridge, MA as part of the Community Connections program, saw first hand the roles volunteers play in supporting American civic and cultural life. She is using her understanding of volunteerism to support the museum industry in Armenia and provide her students with valuable working experience.


Alvard Grigoryan currently teaches Museum Management to 250 students. After her professional exchange to the US, Grigoryan brought back a dedication to assist both her students and local museums by promoting volunteer work. She directly credits the US with helping her realize the importance of volunteers. She states, "I saw in the US how retired people were volunteering. For example, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, these volunteers presented the materials with great love, artistic manners, and excitement, often playing the roles of historic heroes. This allowed the main staff of the museum to focus on their research."

Grigoryan began discussing the importance of volunteerism with her students, and since then, approximately 25% of her 250 students now dedicate time to a range of museums, including several museums that her Community Connections group members run. As an active member of the Association of Museum Workers and Friends, Grigoryan was able to direct students to different museums that might need assistance, and has been available to help them organize different events at the museums.

Grigoryan has also helped her students to establish a youth branch of the Association of Museum Workers and Friends, to ensure the sustainability of Armenia’s museums into the future. By encouraging her students to volunteer, the students get working experience and museums get additional support.

Impressions of CYSCA Tourism Educators from Armenia

It was really a revelation: Boston and the adjacent cities. Ten tourism educators from Armenia came to learn about education in America. For most of us it was the first visit to the USA. and indeed to discover America.

I think Ill express everybodys opinion if I say that Boston and the cities we were staying in were quite different from the America we imagined. As for me, America has always meant something bustling, like a hive, something hectic and pulsating.

Here we saw cozy, peaceful houses surrounded with gorgeous nature. Living amidst that wonderful nature was the best experience in my life, let alone living in with the host families that willingly opened their doors and hearts to us. It was the best example of hospitality, which must be acknowledged by everybody speaking of a pattern of behavior of Americans and we will cherish our fond memories of these fine people.

Awarding certificates at farewell reception: L to R Jack Medzorian CC Program Director CYSCA; Emil Cherkerzian, tourism educator from Armenia; Lura Smith, assistant to the President MCC; Barbara Dexter Smith, MCC professor and CC program manager.

In fact, for us it was a triple discovery. Why? As I divided our experience into three parts: getting tourism education experience, which was really useful, visiting colleges and getting familiar with advanced technologies; and at last sightseeing which was very meaningful as we saw places familiar from history and fiction. We enriched our knowledge about American culture, got a lot of friends and established good connections.

Thanks to the efforts of the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association with Jack Medzorian as program director, Middlesex Community College with professor Barbara Dexter-Smith as program manger and Associate Provost Christopher Brennan as action plan facilitator we had an extremely well organized, comprehensive program from which not only we but also lots of people in Armenia should benefit. Lest we forget, we are grateful for the excellent interpretation and administrative support of Armine Medzorian, and the efforts of interpreter Tigran Aloyan, administrator Maureen Vallis and our van driver Phil Quinlan. Finally, the funding furnished by the USAID and administrative support from World Learning and Project Harmony made our project possible.

We developed our Action Plans, which we are going to implement in the near future. We shall try to bring a fresh wind into the educational system of our establishments to make them more up-to-date and flexible. Our students are the future of the tourism industry, which in its turn means the well-being of Armenia.

So, our work will result in a series of new projects carried out together with our staff which is eager to participate in all of the innovation processes.

Thank you all again for a truly wonderful experience!

Gohar Harutyunyan -- Yerevan State College of Humanities, Chair of English Department
Participant--Community Connections 2008 CYSCA Armenia Tourism Educator Group




By:  Laura Purutyan

The 17th Community Connections training program of the Cambridge Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA) concluded with a farewell reception for ten tourism educators from Yerevan, Armenia, held Oct 2, 2008 at the Middlesex Community College (MCC)  "Meeting House" in Billerica.  The educators received a three-week world-class quality training program under a partnership between CYSCA and MCC of Bedford and Lowell, MA. 

In 2002 the CYSCA collaboration with MCC resulted in a major grant to MCC to promote free and independent media in Armenia over a three year period, including an exchange of journalists, a media conference in Yerevan and installation of a media lab in the Yerevan State University. The current CYSCA Community Connections program, the 17th in ten years, involved training of 10 tourism educators from Armenia.  "It was a true exchange of ideas and very rewarding," said Jack Medzorian, Vice President/Program Director of CYSCA.

Medzorian saluted the partnership and commended Middlesex, the largest community college in Massachusetts and one of the few active in international programs. "We were fortunate to have teamed with Middlesex this time. Professor Barbara Dexter-Smith and over fifty facilitators from MCC and other institutions and travel organizations in Greater Boston combined to deliver an outstanding training program in tourism and hospitality, funded by the USAID and administered through World Learning and Project Harmony," remarked Medzorian. He also cited the tremendous contribution of the ten host families who opened up their homes and hearts to the CYSCA guests.

Christopher J. Brennan, MCC Associate Provost of Economic and Workforce Development, was responsible for the action planning phase of the tourism educators' training. Brennan emphasized that he "designed the action planning sessions for the mutual benefit of both CYSCA participants and the MCC.  It takes both the new knowledge and the knowledge of the home country to apply new learning effectively".

CYSCA began in 1986 when a concerned group of Cambridge citizens sought to promote world peace through a grass roots partnership with a capital city in one of the Soviet republics.  The numerous CYSCA training and exchange programs over the past two decades have connected youth exchange participants and professionals in the fields of the environment, business, economics, education, culture, the arts, tourism, aviation management, public health and others.


By Andy Turpin
Reprinted with permission from the Armenian Weekly.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (A.W.) — On June 16, Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons presented in goodwill a welcome proclamation and the key to the City of Cambridge to the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association [CYSCA] Community Connections program delegation of theater managers visiting the Cambridge-Greater Boston area from Armenia.

On June 15, CYSCA held a welcome reception for the group at the Sheraton Commander Hotel, attended by State Representative Alice K. Wolf [D-MA] and Cambridge City Councilor Sam Seidel.

The delegation includes theater directors, administrators, producers, art directors, educators, playwrights, fundraisers, public relations and marketing specialists who will participate in a three-week training program aimed at improving theater management in Armenia.

Participants included in the group are: Ruben Abrahamyan, Assistant General Manager at the State Marionette Theater in Yerevan; Ruben Babayan, Director and Art Manager at the State Puppet Theater named after H. Tumanyan in Yerevan, and head of the Acting/Directing Department at the Institute of Theater and Cinema; Hovik Chakhmakhchyan, Director of the State Drama Theater named after H. Abelyan in Vanadzor; Armen Harutyunyan, Deputy Dean of Theater and Cinema Department at the Yerevan State Institute of Theater and Cinema; Tsolak Galstyan, Open Air Events Manager of the High Fest International Theater Festival in Yerevan; Narine Grigoryan, Lecturer at the Yerevan State Institute of Cinema and Theater, and producer at the State Puppet Theater; Tigran Mkhoyan, Director of the “Hamazgayin” State Theater in Yerevan; Mane Mkrtchyan, Executive Director, ARMMONO International Shakespeare One Man Show Festival, based in Yerevan; Vardan Mkrtchyan, Lecturer at the Yerevan State Institute of Theater and Cinema and actor at the Hamazgayin Theater; Emin Torosyan, Chief Administrator and Deputy Director at the “Hamazgayin” State Theater.

Theater managers help out at the CYSCA table at the Cambridge River Festival, June 16, 2008. Behind the table, l. to r.: Emin Torosyan, Ruben Abrahamyan, Armen Harutyunyan, Nancy Kalajian (CYSCA Board), Vardan Mkrtchyan, Suzanne Pearce (sitting, CYSCA Board), Ellen Sarkisian (host), Tsolak MLKE-Galstyan, Narine Grigoryan, Mane Mk

The program includes meetings with leading theater companies in Cambridge and Greater Boston, as well as university theater programs and professional associations. Visits include seminars, round table discussions, and hands-on training covering specific objectives of the program which include: modern best management practices in the theater, fundraising techniques, public relations, marketing, cooperation with universities and businesses and how to attract young and talented artists. The group will also travel to New York City to meet with performing arts specialists.

At the Sheraton reception Wolf spoke to the group and stated, “I hope you’ll have a wonderful program while you’re here. I want you to know that I brought a group of 16 officials from Cambridge to Yerevan exactly 20 years ago and had negotiations.”

She continued, “You must remember Armenia was still under the Soviets then. There were very large demonstrations in Opera Square.We brought the first journalists from the West that had been present from 6 months to a year.”

Wolf ended, “We had a wonderful visit and all the people welcomed us with open arms. So I want to welcome you to Cambridge with open arms!” Seidel seconded the sentiment, stating, “On behalf of the Mayor and City Council, welcome to Cambridge.”

Jack M. Medzorian CYSCA Vice President and Community Connections Program Director stated in thanks, “This program would not run without the host families. You are integral to our work and this program.”

Upon the group’s visit to Cambridge City Hall, Seidel gave them a tour of the building, told of Cambridge’s governmental functions and day-to-day happenings and gave a visit to City Hall Chamber.

Of the Hall’s functions, Seidel noted in explanation, “They’re all public meetings and the public can testify to any issue. The only restriction is that it has to be an issue being talked about that night at the meeting.”

After the group was welcomed to the Mayor’s office, Brian Corr, Executive Director of the Cambridge Peace Commission stated, “On behalf of the Peace Commission I want to welcome you and thank you for your works in Armenia.”

Mayor Simmons officially welcomed the group and said, “Sister City for us is really about values and community… I’ve never been to Yerevan but I hope someday in the near future I can experience some of the great theater Yerevan and Vanadzor have to offer.”

After reading an official proclamation of welcome to the group, Simmons presented the Key to the City of Cambridge, saying, “We want you to think of Cambridge as all of your second homes. If you have a second home, you must have a key.”

The group, in turn, presented Simmons with its own collaborative words of thanks, stating, “We are so happy that our first visit to the U.S. was to the City of Cambridge. We were so impressed by Cambridge’s wealth of history and universities. We know we are not the beginning of this program, but every group becomes more meaningful when it has a better reputation. We will do everything in our power to continue that reputation.”

A light reception followed the Mayor’s proclamation and presentation.

CYSCA was founded in 1987 by the Cambridge City Council and the Cambridge Peace Commission following an exchange of official delegations between Cambridge and Yerevan, with the goals of fostering friendship, mutual trust and dynamic interaction between the peoples of Yerevan and Cambridge as well as their neighboring regions.

The Community Connections Program, managed by the Bureau for Europe and Eurasia at the U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID] and administered by World Learning, is designed to promote public diplomacy through the exchange of cultural ideas and values among participants, U.S. families and local community host organizations. It seeks to establish and strengthen links between U.S. communities and communities in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

USAID Awards Grant to CYSCA

Cambridge, MA: July 16, 2008--The Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA) announces receipt of a grant from the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID), administered by World Learning, Inc., for training of 10 tourism educators from Armenia under the USAID Community Connections program. The group will arrive in Boston September 15 and depart Oct 6 for three week training under a program developed by CYSCA and the Middlesex Community College (MCC). The training program is generally aimed at enhancing tourism in Armenia. Included in the group are educators from various universities and institutes in Yerevan involved in teaching tourism.

Problems in tourism education in Armenia

Despite the rich and bountiful historical heritage and natural beauty of Armenia as a tourist attraction, the quality of tourism services needs to be upgraded to achieve world class level. The economic potential for tourism is great for Armenia, but the training of tourism specialists is left to a few educators, many of whom, unfortunately, lack practical experience in international standards and norms expected by tourists.

The training program

The training program, developed with Professor Barbara Dexter-Smith of MCC, will include meetings with tourism faculty members at area colleges and universities that will involve seminars, round table discussions, talks, and hands-on training covering specific objectives of the program. These include such topics as teaching methods, lesson planning, cooperation with the private sector, human resource management, international cooperation, promotion, market research, international tourism norms/standards, cultural tourism, ecological tourism, excursions/tours, ethics/behavior, organizing scientific forums/conferences, and others.CYSCA Program Director Jack Medzorian commented, “We are pleased to have been selected to organize this exciting project and look forward to hosting our visitors. We are confident that together with our partner MCC, we will accomplish another successful U. S. government-funded Community Connections training project, our 17th since 1997, hosting professionals from Armenia and are confident the participants will return home with many new ideas and concepts to advance the state of tourism in Armenia.”

The program also includes a cultural component called “Experience America” which will expose the participants to American history, culture, values and everyday life as they visit historic and cultural sites in Greater Boston. Home stays will be provided by local volunteer host families. Anyone interested to host one of the guests or for more information may contact Jack Medzorian, Program Director, at 781-729-6457 or


CYSCA is a non-profit sister city partnership between the cities of Cambridge, MA and Yerevan, Armenia. It was founded by concerned citizens in Cambridge, MA in 1987 as a grass roots organization to bridge the gap between the ideologies of the USA and the Soviet Union by sharing of common values. Since its inception, CYSCA has organized many citizens’ exchanges in various fields including youth exchanges, education, science, environment, business, sports, performing arts, public health, aviation, museums, tourism, and others. For more information about CYSCA and its programs

Community Connections Program

The Community Connections Program, managed by the Bureau for Europe and Eurasia at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and administered by World Learning, is designed to promote public diplomacy through the exchange of cultural ideas and values among participants, U.S. families and local community host organizations. It seeks to establish and strengthen links between U.S. communities and communities in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.


CYSCA Board member and Director of its Community Connections Program, Jack Medzorian made a follow-on visit to Armenia in September/October 2007 one month after the return of the group. He met with the group to discuss seminars to disseminate the knowledge they gained in the USA. The first of these took place at the Hovhaness Tumanyan Museum in Yerevan on October 10. Approximately 50 museum managers, workers and students from the universities attended. Each of the alumni made a presentation on a specific topic, dealing with the principle issues that were addressed in their USA training program. The following remarks they made included inputs from the entire group:

Vahag Minasyan, Director of the Nature Museum: USA museums are not typically funded by the government, they are supported by members and benefactors. Armenia should follow this same course, giving the example of his own museum, which receives substantial financial support from an Armenian from Iran, Levon Aharonian.

Lilik Hakobyan, Director of Yeghishe Charents Museum: Buildings in the USA are designed specifically for museums, not made over such as in Armenia. Most of them have souvenirs and brochures. Even their buffets are thematic for a particular country that they may be exhibiting. Adding to Vahag’s comment about benefactors, she complained that in Armenia, locals do not give financial support to museums and felt that this must change. As for volunteers, since her return she has contacted universities to recruit volunteers to help with language capability.

Marine Otaryan, Director of Alexander Spendiaryan House Museum: Accommodations for handicapped persons are excellent in the USA, and lacking in Armenia. She will push to improve this.

Hripsime Pikichyan: President and Founder of Association of Museum Workers and Friends: Important that attention be given to senior citizens especially discounted prices and other accommodations. Annual membership system that she saw in the USA is a good idea. She also noted that there were guides in the street who told interested persons about the history of the area, such as historic monuments and she saw lots of volunteer workers at the museums who told the story of the museum and exhibits.

Lala Kochar, Director of the Ervand Kochar House Museum: Lala spoke about preservation and protection of museum pieces that she learned in the USA.

Vera Kalchurina, Museum of Russian Art: Vera saw that volunteerism played an important role in USA museums. Also, she mentioned evening classes at museums for students, which she will implement in her museum.

Grigor Brutyan, Director of the Victor Hambartsumyan Museum, in Byurakan: He was impressed with the MIT Media lab and the MIT Museum He mentioned that most museums in the USA have large bookstores.

The attendees were impressed with the remarks and had a chance to mix during a reception following the seminar organized by the CYSCA museum alumni. The group announced that they have already been invited to repeat this seminar in Gyumri and have plans to organize similar seminars in the regions of Vanadzor, Goris, Yeghegnadzor, Kapan and even Karabagh in 2008.


Reflections of CC Alumnus

Misha Tadevosyan

While in Boston I visited ten leading banks and thanks to advance arrangements by CYSCA, I was met kindly and was supplied with valuable information and materials. The most important information I received was related to banking services for start-up enterprises for my use in Armenia. Especially useful were the policies, rules and regulations, models for such services that the American bankers provided to me.

On a visit to one of the local Boston suburban banks I was invited to participate in their credit committee meeting. When I showed the American system of processing loan requests to our top management upon my return they were surprised. They were especially interested in the system  of bonus payments basedlones processed minus losses . We have currently adopted similar system in our bank.

Another important event was receiving approval for my project proposal to create a manual on “How to Evaluate a Micro Business and Apply for Financing. The idea came from one of the American banks I visited.  My host, Charles Aslanian, who has 40 years of banking experience, provided valuable consultations to me.  Without his support, the manual would not have been possible. We created and d published 2,500 copies of this manual sponsored by CYSCA with funding support by the U. S. Department of State and distributed them to companies in Yerevan and the regions.

This project also allowed us to establish a web site which contains useful useful information for micro and small businesses to enhance their performance and complements the manual, enabling scheduling of loan payments, evaluation of one's own business, strengths, weaknesses and needs and other features. With this information Armenian businesses can get answers to their questions, develop their knowledge and skills, improve the quality of their business plans, facilitate investment mobilization, gain access to lending, and enhance their performance.

One of the most important impacts of my internship was gaining good friends, not only other professionals, but also reliable comrades, both in Boston and back home here in Armenia. A new working alumni group was organized to do a new project when I received an offer from CYSCA develop an easy-to-use "Guidelines for Small and Medium Enterprises." Our proposal was approved by CYSCA and we produced this valuable manual as well.

I am eternally grateful to all of my hosts in Boston, the many CYSCA volunteers and staff who helped me and others in my group and am especially happy that I was selected to participate in the CYSCA CC program! 

Ed. note: Mkrtich Tadevosyan, Vice President of the Anelik Bank, loan department was a member of the CC entrepreneur group hosted by CYSCA in 2004. He was also the project director of two highly successful follow-on projects in 2005 and has hosted several CYSCA delegations and visitors in Armenia. Thank you as well, Misha!!!


CC Syunik alumni update

The following are excerpts from a report by Jack Medzorian on a visit by Jack and Eva to Kapan hosted by Lianna Hakobyan , director of the Kapan Music College

Eva and I traveled five long hours from Yerevan to Kapan to meet with the CYSCA alumni of the 2001 CC Education Administrator group from Syunik. While there we were hosted by Lianna Hakobyan, director of the Music College, who put us up in her apartment and provided us with wonderful hospitality.

Lianna notified the 10 members of the Syunik educator group plus Hasmik Hambartsumyan, director of Secondary School #1, and CC alumna from another hosting oranization to meet with us. Six of the 10 members of our CYSCA alumni group came, some from a long distance,to meet with us. In our discussions I found that this group has developed and are closely knit. I encouraged them to continue their relationship and team up to develop follow-on projects in their area. Kapan is quite remote from Yerevan, where much of the foreign aid organizations are concentrated.

Updates on our alumni:

Lianna Hakobyan: She is still director of the Music College in Kapan. She has recently expanded the curriculum of her college to include an arts and crafts education department. This consists of painting, weaving, capet making and dancing. In this department she lacks equipment, one of her priority items being easels and chairs for the young artists. Through a special AIWA fund that Eva had collected, we gave a donation of $625 for the purchase of 20 easels and chairs.

Tamam Hovannesyan: She is still director of the kindergarten in Agarak, near Meghri in the southernmost region of Armenia, on the Iranian border. She happily reported that she has expanded her kindergarten by adding another adjacent building, as he demand for her kindergarten has increased. Apparently the population of Agarak is in comparatively good shape, most of them working for the local copper company.

Artur Hakobyan: He is director of Secondary School #10 in the outskirts of Kapan. Artur reported that he learned how to work with NGO's during his trip to the USA and when he returned he formed an NGO for educators from Kapan. Since then he has obtained funding for several projects. He will send us his web page and continue contact with us.

Nelli Davtyan: Since returning she has become director of a local TV station. Eva and I were interviewed on this station to bring news from CYSCA and give our impressions of our visit to Kapan. She is also quite active in the city.

Zhora Mirzoyan: He was  Armenia's director of the department of education in Megrim when he came to the USA. Since his return he has established a regional College of which he is the director. This college is a community college, the purpose being to provide an opportunity for the lorrl students to advance their education without having to go to far away Yerevan, which most of them cannot afford.

Zaven Stepanyan: He is still with the boarding school in Kapan, where they have students who are economically disadvantaged and some e handicapped. He is the spokesman for the CC group, mainly because of his excellent English capability. Zaven also has e-mail and Internet access because his school is on the Project Harmony connectivity program ( or
Onik Bakhshyan, tourism specialist from Sissian
Onik Bakhshyan, tourism specialist from Sissian standing by one of the stones at Karahunge, an ancient observatory older than Stonehenge.  Bakhshyan came with a Community Connections group of ten in the spring of 2002 for training in developing and promoting tourism. He passed away shortly after this photo.

The other members of the group were unable attend our meeting. Tsaghig Babayan, the village school director and the oldest member of the group, has retired. Hasmik Hambartsumyan ar also attended the meeting and made a wonderful, inspirational speech. She was voted number one secondary school director in Armenia for the year 2002 out of 1300 schools. Lianna organized two musical performances in our honor for our visit to Kapan. . There are exceptionally talented students in Kapan, despite their remote location, being essentially cut off from the rest of Armenia because of the difficulty in traveling there. Many native Armenians have never been to Kapan, because it is so reemote, in spite of the fact that it is clearly one of the most beautiful and scenic locations in Armenia. Kapan is situated at a high altitude approaching over 2000 meters in places and has breathtaking views of mountains and lush forests. We also visited the nearby town of Kajaran, the site of a major copper and molybdenum mining company, recently purchased by a German company. This company is the largest enterprise in Armenia, employing 2,500 workers and benefiting a total of 10,000 persons in the community. there is also another smaller mining company in Kapan the mines copper only. All in all, it was a memorable trip and we did and saw a lot during our whirlwind 24 hour visit!

Hosting Community Connections

by Jack Medzorian - Program Director

In May 2005, CYSCA completed the US Department of State (USDOS) - sponsored Community Connections (CC) program, which began in 1997. Over nine years, CYSCA hosted 130 professionals and completed 21 follow-on projects in Armenn 21 follow-on projects in Armenia, thanks to $1,000,000 of funding support from the USDOS and generous volunteer time and resources.

Under the CC program, CYSCA developed and hosted training programs, internships and workshops involving hands-on training for 13 groups of 10 professionals each Included were groups of entrepreneurs, environmental specialists, tourism specialists, cultural and historical preservation specialists, public health professionals, educators and educational administrators.

An important and rewarding aspect of the CYSCA Community Connections program was a series of follow-on projects in Armenia, carried out by teams of CC alumni upon their ret These projects were mostly suggested by the participants and organized by them with the assistance and management from theurn. These projects were mostly suggested by the participants and organized by them with the assistance and management from the CYSCA staff and funding support from residual funds available under the CC grant.

The projects included village teacher training in 116 village schools in the Syunik region, a three-day business conference in Gyumri, export workshops in Yerevan and Jermuk and business skills training in Sissian and Meghri. In addition, the program produced an environmental handbook, an environmental games booklet for teaching young students and an Armenian Export Catalogue. (see


Members of the March 2002 business grout entertaining  CYSCA

audience at a welcoming reception in Cambridge

At a business conference held in Yerevan, thetheere was reporting on increasing Armenian exports and suggestions for skills and education necessary for the new economy. A survey of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises was made, and a financing manual for micro-businesses titled "How to Start, Develop and Run a Business in Armenia"  was written. The program also designed a program for transportation management education and produced a publication titled "Armenia Investment Guide". (

 CYSCA is proud of these follow-on projects, because they have been an effective means for spreading the knowledge and experience gained by the CC participants to hundreds of their peers in Armenia, all at a modest cost and with a high degree of professionalism.

One of these projects, the Armenian Export Catalogue has continued and is nowin a third edition and completely self sustaining. The CYSCA-sponsored catalogue has become recognized as the best among all catalogues in Armenia.
The project manager and driving force behind this project is Aram Navasardyan, who, together with his team, has also organized the Armenia Marketing Association and formed their own marketing consulting firm. Navasardyan recently remarked to CC Program Director Jack Medzorian, "When you speak about our success with the Armenian Export Catalogue, you should not forget that you and CYSCA have a great role in the success of this project. I will always remember that and together with other alumni, we are very grateful for your help."

The entrepreneur group, hosted in 2004, included Mkrtich (Misha) Tadevosian, Vice President of the Anelik Bank. He was project manager of two comprehensive manuals, one titled "Financing for Micro Businesses" and the other titled" How to Start, Develop and Run a Business in Armenia". These manuals were written in simple, basic Armenian aimed at small to micro businesses and widely distributed throughout Armenia. Limited copies were also produced in English for use by the US Peace Corps Volunteers in Armenia to aid them in their economic development projects through the regions.(See

YCSCA President Yuri Jilavyan outlines sister city activities at a meeting of Community connections alumni in Yerevan

Tadevosian credits the CYSCA training program at various banks in Greater Boston and the US Small Business Association, where he picked up a lot of ideas for his manuals and implemented many of them in his own bank.  Commenting on his CC internship, Tadevosian reports , "Now that over one year has passed since I participated in the CC program, I can definitely say that the internships improved my professionalism and also changed my viewpoint on many aspects of life. The internship made my life more interesting and creative."

CYSCA is grateful to all the dedicated volunteers, host families, host training and internship providers and CYSCA staff that made the CC program a success. The CYSCA team was headed by Program Director Jack Medzorian, assisted by Program Administrator Taya Battelle from the onset of the program, and recent program manager Ara Ghazarians, as well as volunteers, Sarkis Gennetian, Varujan Masrof, Jirair Babikyan, Vartkes Karaian, George Changelian and Suzanne Pearce, CYSCA president.    


Scientific Instrument Enables Successful Project

Community Connections (CC), hosted by CYSCA, recently arranged a visit to the Massachusetts State Water Quality Laboratory in Lawrence, MA for Environmental specialists from Armenia.  The visit was facilitated with the help of Robert Serabian, Quality Control Manager of the lab.  During the visit, Robert suggested the possible donation of their used spectrophotometer to Armenia for use in water quality analysis, since their  lab was purchasing a new one.  CYSCA wrote to the Commonwealth of MA requesting donation of this unit to Armenia and eventually it was approved.

The unit was delivered to the laboratory of Professor Rudolph Gevorkyan, head of the department of Geology at the Yerevan State University. CYSCA funded certain modifications that were necessary for the equipment to become operational in Armenia.

Professor Gevorkyan's team of researchers used the spectrophotometer to analyze the cooling waters of Medzamor, Armenia's nuclear power plant, looking for the radioactive element cesium after they had filtered out the cesium using a special formulation of the locally available mineral zeeolite as an absorbent. The technique developed by Professor Gevorkyan and his associates involved removal of the radioactive cesium/zeeolite and encasing the waste in a mixture of cement and zeeolite. This process rendered it suitable for burying safely for up to 1000 years and the cooling water was purified so well that it had no traces of radioactivity and was even suitable for drinking.

Thanks to the teamwork of Robert Serabian in facilitating the gift of the equipment by the Mass Water Quality Lab and CYSCA arranging the shipment and placement of it in Armenia, this project has resulted in the development by Armenian scientists of a technique for safe disposal of radioactive waste.


On April 25, 2006, 10 young professionals in the field of aviation arrived from Yerevan for a three-week training visit. CYSCA developed a comprehensive training program on aspects of aviation, from the ticketing process to airport facilities and service on-board the aircraft. The training program, which emphasized customer service to meet international travel standards and included visits to Logan International Airport, TF Green Airport outside of Providence, R.I., Worcester Regional Airport and Portland International Airport in Maine, as well as meetings with representatives of the Boston area aviation and travel industry, both public and private.

The Yerevan Delegation included employees of the Yerevan Zvartnots Airport, Armavia, the principal airline of Armenia and Avia 2 Service, the airlines/airport service company. The group training experience was part of the Community Connections Program funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and administered by the Washington-based organization World Learning, Inc. as the programming agent.

CYSCA housed each visitor in a local volunteer host family and planned a full agenda of sightseeing and trips to Boston and Cambridge museums. CYSCA members participated in many other hosting activities as well, including transportation and cultural events.

Taking off on their Boston adventure: (l.-r.) Armenuhi Chalkadryan and Varduhi Harutyunyan of the Community Connections aviation delegation try out the cockpit of a small private jet at Portland International Airpor

Perkins School Initiates Program for Armenia

In November/December 2003, CYSCA hosted a group of 11ublic health specialists from Gyumri under its U. S. Department of State funded Community Connections program. Included in his group were directors of two schools for handicapped children in Gyumri.  CYSCA arranged a visit for these school directors to Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, where they were given the chance to tour the facility and learn about programs for the handicapped.

As a result of this visit,  Perkins managers, Dennis Lolli and Michael Collins became aware of problems of schools for handicapped children in Armenia and decided to visit Armenia to explore the feasibility to provide direct assistance under their international program.  Dennis Lolli asked CYSCA for assistance in setting up a program.  Jack Medzorian organized through Karine Tsaturyan, CYSCA volunteer in Yerevan, visits for the Perkins representatives to schools and meetings at the Ministry of Education and with prominent Parliament member Hranoush Hakobyan.

Dennis and Michael visited Armenia in April 2005, and were met at the airport by Karine, who for ten days accompanied them on visits to several schools for the blind and handicapped in Yerevan, Gyumri and the regions and set up meetings with government officials.  The result of this visit was a decision by Perkins to help two schools, #14 School for the Blind in Yerevan and the Children's Home in Gyumri.

Following their return,  Perins organized a meeting for the public to report on their visit and formally announced the Perkins Armenia Fund for their Armenia program, with a $10,000 annual budget funded by Perkins and at the same time appealed for public support. Other presentations were made at the Armenian Memorial Church and a St. James Church Men's Club dinner, both of which resulted in generous contributions from the community.

Thanks to Perkins for agreeing to help these two schools in Armenia, to Karine for organizing the successful Perkins visit to Armenia, and to CYSCA for another Community Connection!


Richard Boyajian, Teresa and Bernard Djevealikian, Lucinda and David Leveille, Harutyun and Anahid Maranci, Venera Matevosian, Armine and Mark Medzorian, Patty Nolan and David Rabkin, Elinor and Neil Olken and Seta and James Sullivan.

Your hospitality and generosity really makes our program possible, and is what our visitors remember for years about their trip to the US!

CYSCA is seeking suggestions for future host families for groups of Armenian professionals who will be coming to the Greater Boston area for professional training and internships in 2006-2007.  Homestays are generally about three weeks.  The visitor's day is very full with a planned program, but evenings and weekends provide time to get to form bonds and true community connections.  CYSCA is one of the grantee organizations in New England who had been chosen by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for a new cycle of Community Connections grants for Armenia. The grants are administered by World Learning Inc. based in Washington, DC.   If interested please call Jack Medzorian, tel. (781) 729-6457 or Suzy Pearce, tel. (617) 354-7648.
Thank you!

Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association Inc.
P.O.Box 382591
Cambridge,MA 02238
CYSCA is a 501(3) tax exempt organization. Alldonations are tax deductable.
Web Page by RichardAntreasian 2002