After four years of enduring success, the All-Armenian Student Association (All-ASA) Tri-Colored Graduation Cord initiative has financed the purchase of a micro-van for the Medovka village school. Five young students from the village of Kruglaya Shishka (five kilometer distance on foot) and future students can now be driven to and from school for the entirety of their education.
The All-ASA has raised over $5,000 in sales of graduation cords bearing the Armenian tricolor. The project began in 2016 as part of an initiative with OneArmenia, a non-profit organization fostering the production of honey in Armenian villages. The cord project has grown since then, made in Dilijan by local Armenian artists and are sold across the US and Canada. Proceeds are used to support the Medovka school near Stepanavan.
Much of the project’s evolution is owed to Khachig Joukhajian, who is the only Teach for Armenia fellow from the United States, a member of the Shant Student Association and a member of the All-ASA. Beginning in 2016, Joukhajian spent two years teaching history at the Medovka school for his fellowship, where he met Susanna Avdalyan, the school’s dedicated principal and her husband Gagik, the school’s caretaker. With Joukhajian’s guidance and funds raised by the cord project, a fence was built around a local park where a girl’s soccer team now practices regularly. The funds also supported an indoor gym, complete with renovated floors and walls, and all of the equipment needed for students to engage in physical education through the winter.
This past summer, former All-ASA president and current senior advisor Ripsime Biyazyan went back to Medovka and met with the current Teach for Armenia fellow Misak Martirosyan. In meetings with faculty and staff, they learned about more ways to support the Medovka school and its community and planned for future projects.
Earlier this year, staff and faculty received notification from the new administration of the Armenian government that a new school will be built in Medovka in the coming years. This changed All-ASA funding priorities toward more adaptable academic tools and extracurricular equipment such as laptops, an auditorium microphone and a ping-pong table. However, when the school learned that Kruglaya Shishka students would be joining them, they realized that parents had no consistent means of getting their children to school, especially during the heavy winters. All-ASA took action to gather more support for the school and raise funding for a micro-van to help the Kruglaya Shishka students commute and enable the school to offer academic excursions around the region.
After the annual All-ASA Halloween party, those who collectively attended were able to fundraise the remaining necessary funds. The All-ASA was then able to help Martirosyan obtain a visa to travel to Los Angeles to present about the work in Medovka to the new All-ASA representatives and collect the needed funds from the organization for the purchase of the micro-van. Martirosyan also brought back more of the cords made in Dilijan by a small factory for the continuation of sales for graduating Armenian students in North America. The sale of the cords will begin immediately and will carry on through the end of June.
Cords can be purchased at all-asa.org for $20 including shipping. If a student would like to purchase a cord without the cost of shipping, they can contact an All-ASA representative at their school.
The All-Armenian Student Association works to unite various Armenian-American college student organizations and serve the greater Armenian-American community through cultural, social, educational and activist programming. As the largest confederation of ASAs in the nation, All-ASA is dedicated to collaboration among its constituent organizations, the leadership development of its members and the virtues of community service.