CYSCA Holds Annual Meeting
Ghazaryan Presents ‘Dasaran’ Educational Program
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—On May 20, the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA) held its 29th annual meeting at Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church of Greater Boston.
President Alisa Stepanian and other Board members shared updates from the past year and upcoming plans. The Armenia School Aid Program, in its 20th year, made donations totaling $8,000 last year to assist 7 schools in the northeast border town of Berd. Funds were used for a refrigerator and stove for secondary school #4, the renovation of #2 kindergarten assembly hall and stage, furniture and shelving for the Varjaran, security fence for the sports field and perimeter of secondary school #3, new flooring for school #1 gym, athletic equipment/uniforms for Berd College, and renovation of outdoor sports field for the high school.
In April, CYSCA hosted Vahagn Poghosyan, a prominent IT and robotics specialist from Yerevan, to participate in a panel discussion as part of the April 2015 Cambridge Science Festival. CYSCA organized the panel discussion, open to the public, at Lesley University with Poghosyan and specialists from Tufts University, Cambridge public schools, the MIT Media Lab, and the Cambridge Shady Hill School. During his one-week stay, Poghosyan also took part in meetings and visits with local robotics experts arranged by CYSCA.
At the annual meeting, CYSCA also reported that the first year of the new preventive dentistry program at Yerevan Medical University has been a success, thanks to the initiative and leadership of CYSCA’s Board member and teacher Karina Matevosyan. This is a new program for Armenia and should ensure long-term improvement in dental health of its population. Donations from a CYSCA fundraiser last year to fund training equipment for the students, along with the support of the Medical University of Armenia, will ensure its continuation in the fall.
The new layout of an updated CYSCA website, soon to be released, was also shown at the meeting.
The keynote speaker was Hovhannes Ghazaryan, co-founder of “Dasaran” (classroom, in Armenian), an innovative educational online platform. This program connects 1,495 schools in Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh), with a users community of 1 million students, teachers, and parents. “Dasaran” fills gaps in K-12 education in Armenia and makes education a common endeavor of students, teachers, and parents, using a forward-looking methodology that makes learning fun and effective. Online management tools ensure transparency and accountability in schools via e-diaries, e-gradebooks, data sources, social networks, and educational games, reaching out to the most underprivileged students and creating an equal opportunity for education and self-actualization.
Ghazaryan’s vision for “Dasaran” lies in the belief that education can help Armenia transform its society and deliver growth of the country. In early June 2015, he completed a master’s in public administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He was a Luys, Hovnanian, AGBU, and Tavitian scholar with 12 years of experience in the public sector, including working in the office of the President of Armenia since 2008, currently as deputy director of external Relations. He also worked for the Ministry of Defense from 2003-07 and is a captain in reserve.
Stepanian thanked departing Board member Jennifer Phillips for her dedication and service during the past year. Members voted in the new 2015-16 Board of Directors, including one new member, Nathan Allukian, who volunteered with Birthright Armenia in Yerevan and Gyumri, including at the American University of Armenia’s School of Public Health.
CYSCA was established in 1987 by a group of concerned citizens of Cambridge, Mass., who believed that a partnership with a Soviet city would promote world peace. They understood that ordinary citizens can build bridges of friendship, goodwill, and cooperation that sometimes governments cannot do. In over a quarter century, many significant activities have taken place, including citizen exchanges and training programs involving more than 500 students and professionals in education, economics, environment, music, arts, culture, medicine, public health, school aid, youth exchanges, tourism, theater, museum management, social work, and other fields, as well as humanitarian aid. For more information, visit www.cysca.org.
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