Archive for June, 2010

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[Beneficiary Potraits]: Avagyan M.

June 30, 2010

Seventeen-year-old Avagyan M. lives with his mother and sisters in a small house in Ninotsminda, Javakhk, where they barely make ends meet. Avagyan and his family moved to Javakhk from Russia nine years ago after his father was killed in a car accident. While his mother initially found work at a local sewing factory, she eventually had to stop due to health problems.

Today, the family tries to grow their own potatoes to survive the winter and Avagyan and his sisters constantly look for odd jobs whenever they can. Despite the hardships, Avagyan tries his best to excel in school and at sports like soccer and biking. Now in tenth grade, he has received many academic awards for his grades. Avagyan was one of the recent recipients of a Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP) stipend during the recent CASP distribution in Javakhk.

This vital support will help Avagyan and his family purchase the necessities they need, and will ultimately enable Avagyan to continue to stay in school, graduate, and become a professional.

Avagyan with his mother

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Credit: FAR Staff

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[Meet Our Staff – World Cup Edition]: And Now For Something Completely Different – Soccer IV.

June 30, 2010

By Samantha McQueen

We have a new fan of Argentina on board. FAR employee Edik Karapetyan will don the baby blue and white jersey for this World Cup, even though he misses the days of the infamous Ararat team of the former Soviet Union. It brings up some heartwarming, proud moments when you think of a time when the “Armenian nation was proud of its team,” as Edik says, especially for such a small nation on a big stage. I’m a little ashamed to say that I know very little about Armenian soccer (I was born in the very late 80s, so maybe it’s forgivable) but it’s nice to hear that some fans still remember the glory days.
 
Adding to the soccer-savvy FAR staff, Edik attended a camp led by Ararat defender Beglaryan (hiding it from his parents, of course) and even played for the 1970-1971 Armenia Youth Football Team. Pretty impressive! After his parents decided soccer was not the right path for him, Edik turned his attentions to becoming a “serious football fan,” in his words. Disappointing for him, but this switch to a spectator is selfishly benefiting me and my Argentinean boys. He is as equally impressed with Messi as I am.
 
So now it seems Hambartsum, Edik, and I will be looking to the South American nation for a win.

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Credit: Olaf Nordwich via Creative Commons / Flickr

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[Web Wrap]: Google Maps, Yerevan Style.

June 30, 2010

Yes, we all love Google maps and now Yerevan has its own version. Enter Yerevan Street View — the interactive map complete with bus routes and business listings on the Yerevan Municipality website. While not without its quirks (the photos aren’t of the highest quality and it’s not exactly as smooth as Google’s feature), it still offers a new perspective and is a great tool for everybody visiting Yerevan.

Check it out.

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Credit: yerevan.am

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[Web Wrap]: The Peace Corps Experience – Volunteering in Armenia.

June 29, 2010

By Ashley Killough via ianyan Mag

When Danny Lovell, 25, received his country assignment from the Peace Corps, he looked at the word “Armenia” on his invitation—and paused.

“I remember thinking, what’s Armenia? What’s in Armenia?”

Lovell vaguely recalled studying the Soviet Union in high school, but he knew little about the South Caucasus country. “After I looked at the map, I thought it was in the Middle East because it’s located right above Iran, and I thought I was going to live in the desert for two years.”

One month later, on May 29, 2009, Lovell said goodbye to his family in North Carolina and moved to Armenia with dozens of other Americans. For the next three months, the new class of volunteers, the 17th group since Armenia opened its doors to Peace Corps in 1992, underwent rigorous training in language and cultural skills. At the same time, they lived with host families in their “training villages,” where they quickly became exposed to the Peace Corps life—one filled, at first, with bucket baths, outhouses and the tedious task of washing clothes by hand.

Please continue reading here.

Danny Lovell, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia

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Copyright: Ashley Killough

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[Meet Our Staff – World Cup Edition]: And Now For Something Completely Different – Soccer III.

June 29, 2010

By Samantha McQueen

Well, I might have to throw one of those “I told you so” comments in here. As a Manchester United fan, Bagrat Sargsyan (also FAR’s Country Director in Armenia) was hoping for a win from England in Sunday’s game against Germany. He has been following the Premier League team for 15 years but the English stars, including the usually-aggressive Wayne Rooney, looked pretty lame, for lack of a better term, this World Cup. The US even came out above them in the group stage. Poor England never even had a shot in Sunday’s game.

I consider Germany another safe bet this year. They delivered the first massive upset in the Cup with a 4-0 win over Australia as top teams like France and Italy were looking weak. Even with their impressive record, I hate admitting this. I can still remember the 2002 World Cup when Germany defeated the US on an unfair call. I can’t stand that the German team who took a victory from my US men may have a shot at winning this one (no offense to the potential Germany fans working for FAR). With this said, I still stand by my call that Argentina will win, but Germany might come close.

I do agree with Bagrat on one point, though. Those vuvuzelas are “killing,” as he says.

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Credit: Grace Smith via Creative Commons / Flickr

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[CASP]: Playing Soccer at the Camp.

June 29, 2010

Boys of the CASP Summer camp in Syunik playing soccer

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Credit: FAR Staff

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[Meet Our Staff – World Cup Edition]: And Now For Something Completely Different – Soccer II.

June 28, 2010

The World Cup is becoming more intense and tension is mounting around the FAR offices as we move through second round games. With the US knocked out, new favorites are emerging and many “I told you so” comments are flying around. My choice team is gone in a not-so-stylish fashion (no one really expected the US to go far anyway, right?) so I’m turning my attention to some of the better-known teams.

FAR’s Yerevan Medical Projects Coordinator, Hambartsum Simonyan, is pulling for Argentina and its “…football legend coach Diego Armando Maradona.” Who can blame him? With players like the renowned Lionel Messi and stunning victories in the first round, Argentina is a safe bet. Plus, Maradona is always fun to keep around…it was reported that he requested a toilet seat worth thousands of dollars and 20 different food choices at each meal. Let’s hope the Argentinean performance on field is on par with their ridiculous demands in South Africa .

And Hambartsum knows what he is talking about! He was a lot closer to the sport than many of us could hope to be. Growing up in Armenia, Hambartsum had a passion for the sport commonly referred to as football (we Americans are a little out of the loop on that term). He was faced with a tough decision later in life that forced him to choose between becoming a doctor or a professional soccer player. If his title with FAR is any clue, Hambartsum chose the career path of a doctor. Though he’s pleased with his decision today, he proudly proclaims, “…football is my favorite hobby!”

It’s safe to say that Hambartsum and I will be rooting for Argentina.

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Credit: Wagner T. Cassimiro via Creative Commons / Flickr