June 5, 2019
You Have to “Do Armenian” to “Be Armenian”
Talyn Terzian Gilmour
On Thursday, April 9, AGBU Central Board Members Lena Sarkissian and Yervant Zorian gave a presentation on AGBU’s new and exciting programs underway. Entitled, “Redefining Education in the Global Age” these various initiatives are doing just that.
“AGBU has always been a major force in education in the Armenian reality” said Lena Sarkissian. “From the early 1900’s, the educational goals of AGBU have been about building (individual) prosperity while building identity which converts into building communities.” Since inception, the organization has been devoted to upholding the Armenian heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs.
AGBU has had a long-standing association with schools and programs providing the traditional brick-and-mortar style of quality education and cultural enrichment opportunities; its efforts have helped to promote the Armenian heritage and support the Armenian identity for many generations. However, during the past two decades, AGBU has evolved to provide its programs on a much more modern platform which not only allows for greater depth and breadth in education, but also to disseminate the materials much farther and wider than was possible from a traditional structure.
AGBU’s roster of innovative programs aims to address the global realities of the 21st century and the needs of our growing communities both in the diaspora and in Armenia. Understanding that how we learn is just as important as what we learn, AGBU’s educational platform has integrated technology into its teaching methodologies allowing education to change and update as fast as the world around us. Keeping up with these changes means that AGBU is able to offer exciting and innovative new experiences while still embracing the organization’s mission.
Perhaps one of its leading programs, as outlined by Dr. Yervant Zorian, is the Armenian Virtual College (AVC). AVC provides e-learners around the world with the opportunity to obtain Armenian education regardless of their age, country of residence, or knowledge level. In fact, as AVC’s founding president Dr. Zorian pointed out, one needs only to have the desire to learn as the program is offered in multiple languages of instruction including French, Russian, English and Spanish. Benefits of AVC include membership in a virtual learning community and the provision of a global space for cultural, educational and social ties.
Another innovation discussed during the presentation is AGBU Atlas – a virtual global access point which will deliver a collection of innovative multimedia education tools to foster and promote the learning of Armenian language, history, and culture. AGBU Atlas will be a “virtual learning hub” or electronic learning resource platform for disseminating information and promoting Armenian heritage to Armenians and non-Armenians around the world with content geared towards students, teachers, academicians, business professionals, and life-long learners.
The AGBU Central Board’s latest initiative involves a new partnership program being developed with Armenia’s TUMO Center for Creative Technologies for diaspora youth which is anticipated to launch sometime in 2020. The goal of the partnership is to create a unique educational experience integrating a custom blend of technology, design and Armenian content delivered through an afterschool or one-day program for school aged children and teenagers. The program will allow participants to connect with other Armenians and develop their sense of Armenian identity, all while utilizing engaging inquiry-based projects to develop technological and creative skills as well as Armenian language skills and experiences.
Both Lena Sarkissian and Yervant Zorian emphasized that in today’s world, education is being tailored for the individual: what they want to learn, how they want to learn, where they want to learn and when they want to learn. Above all, that the experience of education is just as important as the material.
When coupled with AGBU’s mission to uphold Armenian heritage through education, by using multiple approaches and platforms such as apps, eBooks, web videos, travel tools and more, AGBU can offer the learner a much more tailored and customized product to “Do Armenian” resulting in a more meaningful learning experience to “Be Armenian”.
Some of AGBU’s innovative virtual Armenian learning opportunities include:
Offered in seven languages, the Armenian Virtual College (AVC) provides online courses in Armenian language, history and culture, as well as a chess program developed in collaboration with the Armenian Chess Federation. Its multimedia eBooks series brings history, travel and contemporary affairs into the palm of readers’ hands.
The AGBU WebTalks online video series aims to capture and preserve the insights of engaging, dynamic thinkers from around the world, including leading scholars and artists, speaking on a wide range of Armenian topics.
Whether you’re travelling to Armenia or taking a trip through your wildest imagination, the Im Armenia travel app for kids will take you on a great adventure and help you discover many fun facts hidden in the great city of Yerevan and beyond. The app also allows the user to journal their own experiences and pictures which can be shared with family and friends.
AGBU’s Armenian Holidays & Traditions is a beautifully illustrated app filled with expressions, recipes, traditions and more. It features a full calendar year of over 30 of the most popular holidays celebrated by Armenians around the world allowing the user to learn about the origins and significance of each holiday as well as the expressions, greetings, poems and songs for each occasion.
With colourful illustrations and interactive games, Gus on the Go: Armenian for Kids is a fun and easy way to add nearly 90 Armenian words to your child’s vocabulary. Each interactive lesson review unlocks exciting animated vocabulary games that reinforce the material learned in earlier sections. Available in Eastern or Western Armenian.
For more information, go to agbu.org/education.