Friday, July 28, 2006

AFA-Supported High School Training Held in Stepanakert

Students Learn about International Affairs, Gain Conflict Management Skills

July 26, 2006

Contact: Hrant Jamgochian

Washington, DC — Seepan Parseghian of the Stanford University has just successfully completed a peace education course for Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) high school students. Based on an Armenian-language curriculum Parseghian himself designed, the training course held in Stepanakert built on a pilot project conducted in 2005 and supported by the Americans for Artsakh (AFA) organization.

The summer 2005 pilot program, created in collaboration with the Stanford University’s Haas Center of Public Service, School of Education, Institute of International Studies, and Center on International Conflict Negotiation, and organized through the Association of International Diplomacy in Artsakh (AIDA) established by Parseghian, involved thirty students from Stepanakert’s Eighth High School. The students learned international relations theory and gained conflict management and resolution skills. The program concluded with a simulation conference of the Karabakh peace talks.

On the basis of the successfully completed pilot program, Parseghian won the Donald A. Strauss Foundation Scholarship in Political Science, expanding the summer 2006 program with the objective of promoting leadership and understanding of international affairs among Armenian youth living both in the homeland and Diaspora.

“I wanted to express my appreciation for AFA’s encouragement and support for the AIDA project,” said Parseghian. “The program has already benefited dozens of bright young people in Artsakh, inspired their interest in international relations, and I hope will encourage them to pursue careers in public service and contribute to strengthening Artsakh’s civil society.”

This summer twenty students were selected on a competitive basis from all of Stepanakert’s high schools to participate in the program. From June 19 through July 17, the students practiced team cooperation and exercised individual initiative on case studies such as Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Northern Ireland. They also had an opportunity to meet and communicate with senior government members, academics and civic activists. Parseghian is working with Artsakh educators to establish permanent student clubs focusing on international affairs that would organize discussions, simulation conferences and other similar activities.

“I had learned so much and Seepan presented the material in such an enjoyable way that made it easy for me to participate alongside my classmates,” said one of the program participants Tigran Grigoryan. “I am very happy that I chose to participate in the AIDA program with Seepan, and I will definitely be continuing these activities with my friends in the future.”

“With Seepan and the success of his AIDA program, Karabakh’s civil society has taken another promising step forward towards becoming more conscious of diplomacy and its power in defending the interests of our people through peaceful means,” commented the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR)’s Deputy Foreign Minister Masis Mayilian.

The project is set to continue this year and into 2007, with a series of information sessions at university campuses throughout the United States and concluding with the AIDA Youth Conference to take place next spring.

“We are very excited about the AIDA project’s potential to contribute to Artsakh’s education system and, over long-term, to NKR’s civil society and diplomacy,” said the AFA President Zaven Khanjian. “We congratulate Seepan on his achievements and hope he continues his efforts while encouraging many more Armenian Americans to contribute to Artsakh’s development and continued success.”

Americans For Artsakh is a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization established to preserve freedom, strengthen democracy, foster economic development, protect the cultural identity and promote the heritage of the people of Artsakh. The founding Board of Directors include: Zaven Khanjian, President; Dr. Hratch Abrahamian, Vice President; Savey Tufenkian, Treasurer; Rita Balian, Secretary; and Edward Chobanian.

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