The 2021 AYF Internship in Armenia program started its first day on Monday, June 14. This year’s AYF Internship group—one of the largest since 2013—consists of 13 interns pursuing a wide variety of academic degrees:
- Aram Apanian (Hollywood “Musa Ler” Chapter), Business Administration and Real Estate Development
- Shant Armenian (Chicago “Ararat” Chapter), Environmental and Urban Studies
- Kristen Bagdasarian (Detroit “Kopernik Tandourjian” Chapter), Anthropology and Armenian Studies
- Knar Baghdassarian (Montebello “Vahan Cardashian” Chapter), Chemical Engineering
- John Armen Duran (Washington DC “Ani” Chapter), Finance and Philosophy
- Sarinar Khrimian, Business Administration
- Garine Koushagjian (New Jersey “Arsen” Chapter), Biomedical Science
- Ani Mard (Washington DC “Ani” Chapter), Law
- Daron Markosian (Detroit “Kopernik Tandourjian” Chapter), Film and Communications
- Haig Messerlian (Montebello “Vahan Cardashian” Chapter), Physics
- Taleen Nazarian (Pasadena “Nigol Touman” Chapter), Public Administration
- Lorie Simonian (Providence “Varantian” Chapter), English Literature
- Leon Voskanian (Hollywood “Musa Ler” Chapter), Biology
The program will run from June 14 through August 13. Some of the internship placements for this year’s group include the Women’s Resource Center, Alikhanyan National Laboratory, Yerkir Media, Armenian Legal Center and the Institute of Anthropology and Ethnography. For the past year, the AYF Central Internship Council (CIC) has been preparing the aforementioned internship placements, excursions and volunteer initiatives to help those affected by the Artsakh War.
Here’s what some AYF Interns had to say when asked what they were looking forward to this summer:
“This summer will be my first time in Armenia, and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to intern as an archaeologist and work towards preserving our ancient culture, especially given the ongoing attempts to erase it yet again.” – Kristen Bagdasarian
“I am excited to experience a completely different healthcare system, learn more about medicine and patient care through shadowing, as well as strengthening my Armenian vocabulary.” – Garine Koushagjian
“I hope to help my homeland recover from the catastrophes of the war and restore the nation to what every Armenian dreams of it to be.” – Leon Voskanian
“The unique opportunity of working at a foreign organization will introduce me to unfamiliar people, different customs and a fresh routine, allowing me to experience my ancestral homeland in a truly exceptional way.” – Sarinar Khrimian
The 2021 AYF Internship program will be led by two AYF members: Haig Minasian (Orange County “Ashod Yergat”) and Ellen Khachatryan (Chicago “Ararat”).
After graduating from Drexel University in 2018, Minasian—a resident of southern California—spent the remainder of the year in Armenia as the assistant director of Camp Javakhk (Ջաւախք Ճամբար) and as a volunteer for Birthright Armenia. Once he returned in 2019, Minasian resumed his activism in the Armenian-American community and helped organize the 2019 AYF Internship program with the AYF-Eastern Region. He is currently involved with organizations such as ARF Shant Student Association, DataPoint Armenia and the AYF Juniors Western Region. He is also the chair of United Human Rights Council, as well as the co-founder and co-host of the podcast Haytoug Talks. He has a passion for history and geopolitics, which he combines with his GIS background to create educational material and raise awareness through lectures and social media. He currently works for a non-profit focused on ending homelessness in California.
Khachatryan is currently a remote member of the AYF Chicago “Ararat” Chapter. She has been serving on the CIC for two years. Khachatryan graduated in June from the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor’s degree specializing in cognitive science/machine learning. She was born in Armenia and has spent most of her summers there volunteering and spending time with family. She participated in the AYF Internship in 2017. This will be her twelfth summer in the homeland. Khachatryan is excited to share her internship experiences in the homeland with the 2021 AYF Interns.
The group is motivated and eager to be in the homeland to experience one of the most interesting times in Armenia’s history. The CIC is looking forward to sharing more updates from the AYF Interns throughout the summer.