Official Peace Corps Armenia Information

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By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, June 23, 2001 - 7:17 am: Edit Post

Official Peace Corps Armenia Information

Official Peace Corps Armenia Information

Official Peace Corps Armenia Information

October 7, 2001

11:16 AM

Armenia, the smallest of the former Soviet Republics, is in the midst of historic change. Despite a decade that has included war, blockades, a devastating earthquake, and chronic shortages of power, Armenia is making progress in its transition to a market economy. Private sector activities are beginning to emerge, and wide-scale entrepreneurship needs to be supported through training and education.

Armenians recognize the importance of English fluency in linking them to economic and education opportunities in their region. Peace Corps is responding to these needs with programs that develop the country and its people's ability to support business development and education, and address challenges in the health sector.

Business Development The Small Enterprise Development Program assists 20 communities across Armenia develop the institutional capacity of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government leaders to support the small business sector. Volunteers provide business consulting and training to over 1,400 entrepreneurs and business education and curriculum development in high schools and business institutes. This year, several Volunteers were instrumental in establishing community business newsletters. Volunteers have successfully formed collaborative training projects and facilitated micro-credit programs and small business development grants with organizations such as U.S. Agency for International Development, CARE, Save the Children, and others.

Volunteers work to develop grass-roots community projects, such as working with orphans and refugees to provide hygiene education, clothing distribution, and business skills training. Other projects include a "Green Up and Clean Up" campaign to install garbage cans, park benches and flower pots in the city center of Martuni, and the repair of an irrigation canal that now serves 820 families.

Other Volunteers are working to promote a specific sector important to the economy at their site. One Volunteer has been working for the past year to promote tourism in the mountain resort region of Jermuk. Once a popular vacation spot, Jermuk's health spa has suffered from a sharp decline in tourists. The Volunteer has facilitated visits by tourism experts and tour operators who develop recommendations for improvements and business plans. Currently, he is teaching the staff courses in customer service, accounting, and marketing to help the spa implement these plans.

Education Interest in studying English in Armenia is at its height. To help meet the demand for qualified English teachers, Volunteers are training Armenian teachers in modern language teaching methodologies. Volunteers are also helping their schools establish English language resource centers and collaborating with their counterparts to produce curricula, in order to ease the severe shortage of textbooks and modern teaching materials.

One Volunteer found a donor through Peace Corps' World Wise Schools program who shipped 2,000 books to the town of Sissian for use at an English language resource center established by previous Volunteers.

To encourage teachers to use each other's skills as resources, Volunteers have collaborated with their counterparts to create professional teachers' organizations, such as the Armenian Association of English teachers. Working together with the Brussov Foreign Language Institute in Yerevan, one Volunteer developed a writing program, the first of its kind in Armenia.

Volunteers also sponsor English language and American culture clubs, and assist their students in preparing for qualifying exams for Freedom Support Act scholarships, such as the Muskie Fellowship. Increasingly, Volunteers are working with adult learners, such as NGO leaders who need English to communicate with partner organizations abroad.

Health This is the first year that the Peace Corps has established an independent health project. Last year, education Volunteers incorporated a health-based curriculum in various schools; however, there were no direct health training or skills transfer within the communities.

This year, Volunteers will work on assisting local health professionals determine local health needs and how to meet those needs. Some of the objectives of this new project include health studies, surveys, community outreach, and training of trainers. Health education within the schools will continue as well as other cross-sector collaboration with education and business Volunteers.

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1992 - present

60 (2001 estimates)




Story Source: Peace Corps

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