Ruzanna Antonyan is the first JFDP visiting scholar from Armenia at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Department of English and Literature. She’s a lecturer of English and French languages at the European Regional Academy Vanadzor Branch, Department of Linguistics, Economics, and Tourism.
“I was a bit uncomfortable when I learned I was the first Armenian participant to go to SIUE. Though I found some information on their website, still everything was uncertain and unknown. The International Hospitality Program (IHP) prepared a warm and wonderful welcome providing me with all the necessary things for the beginning. Thanks to them I didn’t experience any shock or loneliness, especially at the beginning. The only shocking thing was the fact that I had to attend a class in an hour after my arrival, but it was an interesting experience. The International Office staff, my advisor, professors, American and International students all did their best to help me during the program.
The benefits of the program are endless. It is a unique chance for university instructors to experience not only professional development but also participate in different social activities. It helped me to reveal my abilities, to be more conscious of my strengths and weaknesses, to feel more the importance of my role in society both as a citizen and as an educator.
We had a chance to explore different field in American life. I participated in many workshops organized by Academic Innovation and Effectiveness Center and also seminars by Kimmel Leadership Center. I visited schools where I presented my country, culture and traditions. The program gives a wonderful chance to attend professional development events. I participated in a TESOL conference in Chicago which was very impressive. I met different professionals from different countries and discussed issues on language teaching and education. It was an effective way of networking. During the Global Awareness Week, I participated in a panel discussion with other international scholars where I gave a talk on “Multilingualism and Language Policy in Armenia” and “Armenian Education system”. I wanted to feel the US classroom as an instructor so much that I asked the professor to allow me to teach one class. I gave a lecture on “Sociolinguistics and Linguistic Anthropology”. It was a very responsible but interesting job.
Voluntary jobs were one of the exciting parts of the program. I volunteered in the French Club, in SIUE Garden, and I was a guest speaker invited by International Women Organization. We also had much fun organizing many parties and events. That’s why I say I can numerate endlessly the benefits of the program. Now the program is coming to an end. Though I miss my country and family very much, I was so busy during the semester, I didn’t feel I was away for 5 months. On the other hand it will be very sad to depart from friends and dear people that we gained here. I will miss them so much. But on the other hand we are returning with unforgettable memories and good experiences that will be useful in our professional career and in our life. Thank you very much for giving me this wonderful chance. The positive impacts of the program will be felt for many years.
Now I wonder who will be the luckiest people to have a chance to benefit from this program next year. I encourage all my Armenian colleagues to apply for this program.”
Armen Mkrtchyan is an Assistant Professor at the Yerevan State Medical University, Department of Hygiene and Ecology. His other major position at the home university is a Senior Specialist at the Department of Quality Assessment. In the U.S. Mr. Mkrtchyan is hosted by the University of Kansas, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.
“When I learned that I will leave for Kansas, I tried to remember what I know about that State. The only thing I remembered was “The Wizard of OZ”. Naturally there were some worries and fear that my experience would not meet my expectations. But from the very first day I was welcomed by people who would become really close to me in the coming four months. Everything was ready at the universities International Program office when we JFDP fellows arrived, they prepared everything for us. And when my academic advisor gave me my university office, the department and the School of Education building keys, I was sure that all my expectations would be satisfied here. I took 4 courses, visited the Center for Teaching Excellence, many different seminars, 3 local conferences, made 2 presentations about Armenia and about higher education institutions in Armenia, participated in a photography contest and received honorable prize at “Flora and Fauna” competition for a picture with Armenian blossoming apricots.
Here you feel that you are welcomed so warmly and friendly everywhere, you feel so valuable and appreciated. The university helped me to participate in one most important annual conference in USA about higher education quality in Chicago. I was given an opportunity to visit the Medical Center of University of Kansas to meet my colleagues.
I also had chance to visit different museums, different sightseeing places, and small towns and attended university basketball games. I can definitely say that the program is justified and I would definitely recommend it to my other colleagues. I regret that KU JFDP coordinator Hodgie Bricke is soon going to retire and we are the last fellows this year that she has. Big thank to all my friends here in the best University for everything that has been done and is being done for me.”
Grigor Mirzoyan is being hosted by the Florida State University, College of Education. He teaches at Information Technologies in Management at the French University Foundation in Armenia, Department of Information Technologies.
Mr. Mirzoyan attended the Multicultural Leadership Summit at the Florida State University organized by the Center for Multicultural Affairs to learn about the cooperation process of different people, the exchange of their international experience to understand the modern problems in student leadership.
Mr. Mirzoyan presented the situation of students’ activity in Armenia at another interesting event organized by Social Media and Intercultural Relations at his US host university. He discussed students’ movement in the country, particularly student’s movements which impact the development process of higher education and the social changes. The event was a useful from the prospective of exchanging information about student’s activities and leadership in USA.