Every year, American Councils office in Yerevan hosts students from Lehigh University for professional internships. In 2017, Nick Razewski, a student in his third year, was visiting Armenia for a summer internship at the Eurasia Partnership Foundation Armenia (EPF) as part of his study abroad program. We share his article about the diverse impressions and experiences he had during the time in Armenia below.
“Interning at Eurasia Partnership Foundation in Yerevan provided me with amazing opportunities to meet and work alongside their staff, see how their office operates, and engage in and learn about their programs. I got to read and hear about their programs in all corners of their broad areas of expertise, from cross-border programs to youth empowerment and entrepreneurship, as well as help work on many different important aspects of how the organization operates. Collecting data and helping design graphics to present information, researching fundraising opportunities from potential donors across the globe, and attending events and meeting visitors and guests at the office made my internship at EPF an educational and exciting experience.”
Apart from undertaking his internship at EPF Armenia, Nick found time for volunteering at one of the local NGOs too: “I also had the opportunity to volunteer with a program at Article 3 Human Rights Club, to help start a program called “English Club”, where people could come twice a week and join us for English discussions on human rights related topics, while having a chance to practice their English speaking skills. Topics such as freedom of expression and discrimination were discussed, and the young people attending were encouraged to speak freely and debate with each other, myself and another American volunteer, and the Article 3 volunteers and staff. Through the club I was able to interact with a large group of Armenians ranging from high school students to graduate students, and hear their opinions and perceptions of the United States and Armenia, as well as make friends and see a different side of Armenia by engaging with the people who attended.”
Interns are not only involved in academic activities, but have free time to explore the country and visit rich cultural sights: “In addition to the internship, the cultural immersion was one of the most valuable experiences I have ever had as well. Learning about the differences from the United States, improving my cross-cultural communication skills, and broadening my global perspective served to help steer my own educational and career interests. The apprehension for the challenge of being alone in a place I had never been, didn’t know where anything was, and did not know anyone was replaced by excitement for unknown opportunities and an urge for discovery and new experiences.
I learned more about my own capabilities and expanded my own skills and overcame many worries or fears about being alone in a foreign country. The time abroad helped to improve me as a student, a future professional, and a person.
Nick, like all the previous interns, was staying with a local host family to help smooth the integration process. The advantage of staying with a host family is it provides the intern with a very unique experience: “Staying with a host family was one of the greatest opportunities that is unparalleled by staying in a dorm or apartment with other students. It was an adventure that provided me with a look into the lives of real Armenians and understand more about Armenia than I would have under any other circumstances. The life skills that the experience provided me with will open new opportunities at Lehigh and in the rest of my life. The two months I was in Armenia were unforgettable and unique.”
If you are interested in for-credit internship opportunities in Armenia, visit: http://www.acstudyabroad.org/opit/