AYF Internship welcomes participants to Armenia

This year’s AYF-YOARF interns and director atop the steps of Cascade with Mt. Ararat in the background

YEREVAN—The AYF-YOARF Internship in Armenia is one of the organization’s flagship summer programs, attracting applicants from all over the world. This year, the group comprises 16 interns hailing from California, Chicago, Detroit, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Washington D.C. and Toronto. The large number of interns has made for an interesting mix of internship placements including tech startups, children’s centers, civil engineering firms and much more. Most importantly, each intern will be getting professional experience in their respective field of study. 

Not only do the interns get to work in Armenia, but they also live in Yerevan’s “Kentron” area, affording them the opportunity to interact with locals on a daily basis. With the intern house situated near the Armenian National Opera, city sites are within walking distance and easily accessible to the group. 

The AYF interns will have various excursions throughout the summer, including trips to Syunik, Dilijan, Gyumri and Javakhk. Altogether, the internship program is all-encompassing, bringing the diasporan youth closer to their homeland. Let’s meet the interns who are participating this year!

Chris Alajajian

Chris Alajajian is interning at the Wigmore Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Alajajian is a member of the Detroit “Kopernik Tandourjian” Chapter and the treasurer of his university’s ASCA club. The 22-year-old is a rising senior at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor studying neuroscience on the pre-med track. After graduating, Alajajian plans to pursue medical school and specialize in neurosurgery. “I’m excited to gain valuable professional experience in my field and also give back to the community while living as an Armenian local with my fellow interns! I’m looking forward to engaging deeply with the Armenian culture and building lifelong connections,” Alajajian said. A fun fact about Alajajian is that he’s a black belt in Tae Kwon Do!

Hagop Alajajian

Hagop Alajajian is interning at the Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology. He is a member of the Detroit “Kopernik Tandourjian” Chapter and the vice president of the Princeton Armenian Society. The 20-year-old is a rising junior at Princeton University where he studies computer science and is part of the sailing team. He has also been a part of Homenetmen and the Hamazkayin dance group. “I love spending time with family and friends, learning about all forms of art, tasting new foods and trying new experiences,” Alajajian said. He is excited to “experience my motherland with my brother, along with the amazing cohort of AYF interns I can call my extended family. I’m excited for the chance to volunteer and contribute to the wellbeing of Armenia,” he said. A fun fact about Alajajian is that he’s met Jeff Bezos!

Tamar Almasian

Tamar Almasian is interning at the Nera Project. She is the Junior advisor of the Massachusetts – North Andover “Sassoun” Chapter. The 20-year-old is a rising junior at the University of New Hampshire studying accounting. For eight years, she was part of an Armenian dance group called “Siroun.” She is excited about becoming more connected with my Armenian roots and culture and finally visiting my homeland!” 

Aren Bedrossian

Aren Bedrossian is interning at iNexxus. He is the treasurer of the New York “Hyortik” Chapter and the co-founder of his university’s Armenian Students Association. The 19-year-old majors in accounting and finance at Fairfield University. He is excited about “experiencing life in Yerevan authentically and forming connections with people in the homeland.” His favorite Armenian food is manti!

Antranig Douglas

Antranig Douglas is interning at the National Academy of Science, Chemical and Physical Institute. He has been a member of the Massachusetts – Middlesex County West “Musa Ler” Chapter since its inception and was an active member of the Armenian Students Association as an undergraduate student. The 22-year-old majored in psychology and played rugby at the University of Vermont. He also enjoys climbing, hiking and playing board games. He is excited about improving his Armenian language skills and hopes to read Harry Potter in Armenian this summer!

Nathan Kefeyan

Nathan Kefeyan is interning at the Central Bank of Armenia. He is a member of the Massachusetts – Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter and will serve as the vice president of his university’s Armenian Student Association this fall. The 19-year-old is a rising junior at Northeastern University majoring in economics with a minor in data science. He also enjoys playing Armenian music on the oud. He is excited about “immersing myself into the daily life of Yerevan and experiencing new aspects of Armenian culture!” 

Alina Keshishian

Alina Keshishian is interning at Study for Success. She is a member of the New Jersey “Arsen” Chapter and serves as the chair of the Central Camp Haiastan Council. The 20-year-old is a rising junior at Lafayette College majoring in anthropology and sociology with a minor in French and concentration in education. She is excited about “returning back to Haiastan and strengthening my Armenian speaking skills, teaching first graders and making memories with all my fellow interns.” A fun fact about Keshishian is that she sat next to Elton John at a restaurant in Yerevan!

Nyree Kourkounian

Nyree Kourkounian is interning at Nairi-Tech LLC. She is a member of the Massachusetts – North Andover “Sassoun” Chapter and her university’s Armenian Students Association. The 20-year-old studies mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor where she is also involved in the Society of Women Engineers. “I am so excited to visit Armenia for the first time! I am looking forward to fully immersing myself in all that Armenia has to offer all while doing valuable work in my field,” she said. A fun fact about Kourkounian is that she can hold a handstand for a minute!

Aram Najarian

Aram Najarian is interning at DrumStar Corporation. He is a member of the Washington D.C. “Ani” Chapter and helped run this year’s Junior Seminar as a member of the AYF Junior Seminar Committee. The 19-year-old is a rising sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering at Northeastern University where he will serve as the treasurer of the Armenian Students Association this fall. He is also learning to play the dumbeg! He is excited about “going to the homeland for the first time and being able to experience the culture.”

Sophia Marangoudakis

Sophia Marangoudakis is interning at the Armenia Marriott Hotel Yerevan. She is a member of the Massachusetts – Worcester “Aram” Chapter and the Cornell Armenian Student Organization. The 19-year-old is a rising sophomore majoring in hotel administration at Cornell University where she is involved in the Cornell Hotel Society. “I love learning about different cultures, trying new restaurants, creating collages and taking fun pictures!” she said. I am super excited to live in and explore Yerevan, the historical sites and interact with the local people. I am also looking forward to working internationally and conversing with people from a variety of countries,” Marangoudakis continued. Her career goal is to own her own line of boutique hotels.

Areni Panosian

Areni Panosian is interning at Hairenik Media. She was born and raised in San Francisco and is a member of the California – Hollywood “Musa Ler” Chapter. The 21-year-old is a rising senior at UCLA majoring in English with minors in Armenian studies and film. She is fluent in both Western and Eastern Armenian. “I am incredibly excited to learn about the current political and social climate of Armenia from locals and live internationally for an extended period of time. I look forward to fostering a community amongst fellow interns through service, work and our shared Armenian heritage!” she said. 

Emily Sardaryan

Emily Sardaryan is interning at the Wigmore Women’s and Children’s Hospital. The 20-year-old is a rising junior studying psychology at Pepperdine University in Malibu, where she will again serve as secretary of the Armenian Students Association in the upcoming year. She plans to attend medical school and match into a residency for psychiatry. “Words cannot fully describe my excitement but I’ll try my best! I am excited to gain professional experience in my field while giving back to my homeland, building lifelong connections and living as an Armenian local with fellow interns!” she said. “No one remembers what my first language was because as soon as I started speaking, I would speak a hybrid of both Armenian with English!”  

Raffi Sarrafian

Raffi Sarrafian is interning at the National Polytechnic University of Armenia. He is a member of the Chicago “Ararat” Chapter and serves on the Central Junior Council. The 22-year-old graduated this spring with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “I am very excited to be in Armenia for the first time. I can’t wait to gain more professional experience, meet new people and explore all that Armenia has to offer!” he said. A fun fact about Sarrafian is that his highest score in bowling is a 267!

Aleen Soulakian

Aleen Soulakian is interning at Music Promo Today. She serves on the senior executive board of the Chicago “Ararat” Chapter and on Central Camp Haiastan Council. The 20-year-old is a rising junior at Illinois State University majoring in marketing. “This will be my first time in Haiastan so I am beyond excited to go back to my roots and finally immerse myself in the culture. I look forward to growing personally and professionally while also giving back to my country. I also cannot wait to share this experience with my fellow interns and create memories that will last a lifetime,” she said. “I am allergic to beef and lamb, so eating in Armenia shouldn’t be a challenge at all!”

Sophia Tarpinian

Sophia Tarpinian is interning at Orran Children’s Center. She is a member of the New Jersey “Arsen” Chapter. The 21-year-old graduated this spring from the University of Maryland with a bachelor of science degree in early childhood education/early childhood special education. Her favorite Armenian food is boreg! “I am using this internship as an opportunity to learn more about different cultural styles of teaching and childcare. I am so excited to take the skills that I learn in Armenia and bring them back to teach in New Jersey this fall!” she said. She is excited about practicing her Armenian language skills

Meenas Zorian

Meenas Zorian is interning at the ARM Project. The 20-year-old is a rising senior majoring in structural engineering at the Queen’s University in Canada where he is a part of the Armenian Students Association and the bridge building design team. “My goal after school is to hopefully open my own engineering firm,” he said. “I am excited for every aspect of getting to live in Yerevan and experience everything it has to offer while having the opportunity to work in a field I am passionate in.” A fun fact about Zorian is that he can speak five languages!

Now that you’ve met all our interns, follow their journey this summer as they spend an incredible two months discovering Armenia. Check out the AYF Internship Instagram (@ayfinternship) and Facebook page (AYF Internship in Armenia) for content uploaded on a regular basis, and keep an eye out for future articles written by the interns and directors! 

Founded in 1933, The Armenian Youth Federation is an international, non-profit, youth organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). The AYF-YOARF Eastern United States stands on five pillars that guide its central activities and initiatives: Educational, Hai Tahd, Social, Athletic and Cultural. The AYF also promotes a fraternal attitude of respect for ideas and individuals amongst its membership. Unity and cooperation are essential traits that allow members of the organization to work together to realize the AYF’s objectives.

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