Archive for the ‘Meet Our Staff’ Category


[Meet Our Staff]: Veronika Mkrtchyan, the Newest Member of FAR’s Educational Programs Team.

December 1, 2010

We at FAR introduced our readers to Veronika Mkrtchyan a few months ago. At the time she was studying for a master’s degree in international relations at Yerevan State University. After graduating in June, she spent months trying to find a job in diplomacy while also volunteering to help implement FAR’s education programs. Proving herself as competent and dedicated, she accepted the offer to join FAR’s Yerevan staff full-time as the assistant to the educational programs coordinator in the beginning of November.

“FAR helped me at two very crucial and important moments of my life, first by supporting me so I could receive an education and second, by giving me an opportunity to implement my knowledge and skills. In fact, this organization is like a guardian to me,” Veronika said.

Veronika Mkrtchyan


Credit: Levon Lachikyan

Read more about Veronika here.  


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

July 15, 2010

And so it is over.

The games are over, South Africa can go back to its regular routines (we sure hope that the world cup was, after all, a great success for all South Africans), we here in the offices of FAR went back to work. And everybody lost their bets. Argentina, Brazil, England (especially England), Germany, USA – all disappointed us. Well, at least financially. I think we have to send the wagered money in the pot to the Spanish team. Or just donate it. Hey, perhaps we can finance some new soccer balls for our summer camps…

Levon Lachikyan, our press secretary from Yerevan, has his own final thoughts on the spectacle surrounding the game of soccer / football:

Armenians love to watch and play football. Unfortunately we are not good at playing it. Well, we are good in other categories: weightlifting, boxing, even chess!
When I was a child I was very fond of the game. I was a goal-keeper in my team and my favorite footballer was Lev Yashin, a Soviet goal-keeper. I also loved watching Eusébio, Garrincha, and Pele.
I loved football as an art form. I am more interested in the game itself than the results. Nowadays, unfortunately, football more and more loses its appeal. Goals become more important than values and sportsmanship. The game becomes rational. The World Cup 2010 is a very good example for this. One can hardly see individual games developing. Everything is based on passes. The excitement of the game comes short and therefore the attitude and attention of the audience changes as well. It is not so much fun to watch anymore. And the vuvuzelas are very disturbing!
The most interesting games are perhaps still ahead.

See you in four years!


Credit: Shine 2010 – 2010 World Cup Good Views
via Creative Commons / Flickr

Also check out Shine 2010 – 2010 World Cup Good Views’ photo stream


[Meet Our Staff – World Cup Edition]: And Now For Something Completely Different – Soccer X and a half.

July 13, 2010

By Celine Kaladjian

[ soccer ] |ˈsäkər| noun, a game in which you actually have to be able to run for at least 90 minutes straight (unlike ‘American Football’ where they stop ‘playing’ every 2 minutes) – Urban dictionary definition.

If I believe the scientific grounds of this definition, let me tell you that until 1985 (the year I was born), my dad – Robert Kaladjian – was indeed able to run for a long period of time. He started playing for A.F. Balustres in Marseille in 1977 and for many years, he dreamt of going professional.

I have always wondered why some cities are more prone to live through soccer. In Marseille, a whole identity is built around this sport. Actually, we venerate soccer teams as we would venerate a God. Until the late 90s, my dad belonged to the fervent supporter pack who would travel from city to city to cheer for his favorite team: l’Olympique de Marseille. For years, I have watched soccer games hoping to see him appear on the tube. Needless to say that those hours where fruitless.

But my dad has stopped being a real supporter. In his words “the 70s where the golden years, for soccer. Then came the 90s and the era of business soccer”. He remembers fondly the best World Cup he has ever watched: Mexico 1970.

Former supporters always keep an opinion about soccer. For this World Cup, he was hoping the U.S.A would go further. “At least they played with their hearts. So did teams such as North Korea or even Japan. I have the feeling that others are not aiming at the trophy anymore but more at trying to sell themselves after the World Cup”.

I grew up hearing legendary names such as Boli, Platini or Maradona. No wonder that my dad’s second favorite was Argentina. When prompted to give his reasons, he answered “Contrary to other coached, Maradona always said what he has to say. He has a big mouth and made me laugh”.

Genes must have something to do with one’s taste: I was hoping that Argentina would make it. At least I can rejoice to know that one specific person on the board has enjoyed seeing Germany beat them hollow!

Robert Kaladjian, 1977


Credit: Kaladjian Family Archive


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

July 12, 2010

Congratulations, Spain!


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

July 12, 2010

By Samantha McQueen

Well, that was that.

Unfortunately, it was an uninspiring final World Cup match between Spain and Netherlands with neither side scoring in regulation time but Spain finally scored a well-deserved, single goal in overtime. It was a little difficult to watch in Armenia, as the game ended just before 2 am here, but the Gyumri hotel manager was nice enough to set up a small TV in the lobby for us. He even came over occasionally to join in the cheers and boos.

On the other hand, Uruguay and Germany played an outstanding game! I think many people would have preferred to watch that as the final. A total of five goals were scored and the play never seemed to slow.

I’m glad I was able to watch both games from Armenia. The locals would bring small TVs outside into the cooler air (which seems to always hold true with the nightly breezes) and watched the games together. It was a very different from an American experience and absolutely worth a sleepless night.

And that also marks almost the end of our little excurse into the world of soccer. Levon Lachikyan will have the famous “last word” tomorrow and I can go back to regular life without the excitement of the world cup. I’ll miss it.

Closing ceremony stage at Soccer City


Credit: Shine 2010 – 2010 World Cup Good Views
via Creative Commons / Flickr

Also check out Shine 2010 – 2010 World Cup Good Views’ photo stream


[Meet Our Staff]: Erin Henk.

July 9, 2010

Erin has been part of the FAR Family for a little over a year. She has written various reports, press releases, and brochures, and now primarily helps to write and edit FAR’s blog, Press Releases, and Annual Reports. She’s also a graduate student in global affairs, focusing in human rights and humanitarian assistance.

This summer, Erin joins the Young Professional Trip of FAR’s Hyastani Kidak Society — her first experience in Armenia — and she will spend the summer working for FAR in Yerevan, reporting on our myriad programs for the blog, pursuing additional research for future reports and newsletters, and trying to figure out how one can become a “honorary” Armenian.

We are looking forward to her dispatches.

fotos 18 feb 144.jpg

Credit: Erin Henk’s Family Archive


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

July 6, 2010

By Samantha McQueen

No more Argentina and it’s a sad day for Edik, Hambartsum, and me. Germany played a great game, though, and I have to say that their unselfish teamwork may take them all the way through…maybe even past Spain tomorrow. The German team was clearly thoughtful in their approach on Saturday and they targeted the clear weaknesses in Argentina’s defense.

The German win was not so much of a surprise after the lackluster Argentinean performance in the second half, but it was still a crushing defeat. FAR Executive Director Garnik Nanagoulian even asks “Why is there so much drama at the WC?” Part of the answer, in my opinion, is the failure of stars like Messi to perform at all. It looks like drama comes from the lack of action from famous players. Messi scored zero goals for Argentina. Perhaps our talented FAR footballers (Edik, Hambartsum, and Marina) can step in to lend some professional advice?

It’s also time for the FAR staff in general to admit defeat in this one. We had Bagrat rooting for England and I was with Edik and Hambartsum in our confidence with the Argentinean squad. Both teams are gone now and I think I’m looking at Germany for a win over Spain tomorrow…

Argentina’s fourth penalty is stopped by the German goalie


Credit: Ali Brohi via Creative Commons / Flickr


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

July 6, 2010

By Samantha McQueen

Today a warning for those who may tend to over-think sports in general. I think the Germans in this classic Monty Python video may be trying a little too hard. Gratefully their thoughtful defeat of Argentina’s defense this past weekend produced not only a well-deserved win but great entertainment for all viewers of this great game.



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

July 2, 2010

The World Cup is finally returning with quarterfinal games today and it has been a tough two day draught. I figured I would let the Netherlands v. Brazil and Uruguay v. Ghana games speak for themselves.
To change things up, it’s time to introduce the FAR community to more of our talented employees. The picture below proves that Marina Bazayeva was a rising soccer star in Gyumri, Armenia . Even though she may look like a professional footballer with her overalls and innocent stare, Marina claims she “…was the clumsiest kid of the area and (she) still (is).”

Maybe she still has a shot with the Shirak Football Club!

Marina footballler.JPG

Credit: Marina Bazayeva’s Family Archive


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

July 1, 2010

By Samantha McQueen

It hasn’t been a great tournament for past favorites. FAR staffer Celine Kaladjian’s claim that France ’s performance in the World Cup was “just openly lame” is not too far from the truth. After coming out of the 2006 tournament in second place, their fall from glory has been nothing but chaotic. They failed to win a match in the first round group stage, managing to tie only Uruguay while losing to Mexico and South Africa . The 2006 French squad would have blown through that group easily.
It’s hard to even point to which single problem led to their demise. Players refused to practice after not-so-admired coach Raymond Domenech sent home forward Nicolas Anelka. Fans even gave up on them as they remained scoreless in the Cup until a single goal in their third game by star Florent Malouda against South Africa.
The mess even prompted President Nicolas Sarkozy to investigate exactly what went wrong, against the wishes of FIFA. Between spats with the coach and on-field frustrations, it was a pretty depressing season for the French team and it’s not likely that this World Cup will be erased from their memory anytime soon.


Credit: Virgile Vebrel via Creative Commons / Flickr