PH International

English Summer Camp for Armenia ACCESS Students

Armenia | English Access Microscholarship Program | 29 Aug 2013

Throughout August 25-27, 54 high school students from 3 regional towns of Armenian, Nor Hachn, Dilijan and Chambarak, got together in Tsaghkadzor to participate in an intensive English language summer camp organized within the two-year English ACCESS Microscholarship Program. The program offers the only free-of-charge option for English classes in most of the participants’ communities.

In Sept. 2012, having begun the program with little to no competence of English, the students now got actively engaged in different English sessions related to youth role in movements for social change, on Web 2.0 technologies and social media, on cross-cultural differences, on environmental issues, etc.

They worked individually as well as in mixed teams to practise their English, to share with one another their knowledge on the culture, history, and geography of different nations, to develop their technical competencies on diverse social media platforms and plan community projects to be implemented during the 2nd year of the program.

The camp invited many interesting guest speakers to further enrich the content of the sessions conducted by the Access program teaching team. The students met a group of PH’s 2010 Armenia-Azerbaijan-U.S. “DOTCOM” program alumni who delivered an interactive presentation on the essentials of social media, shared with the group a few useful Web 2.0 tools and opportunities for free online courses such as Khan Academy, Coursera, EDX, TedX lectures.

The camp then hosted another group of USG exchange programs alumni (2011 Armenia-Turkey-U.S. “YouthLAB” Leadership Across Borders Program and the U.S. government’s “SUSI” Study of U.S. Institutions Program) who shared with Access students their experience of applying for and participating in different English language programs which, among other goals, also aimed to expose participants to other cultures and develop in them respect to national differences. The guests shared their rich and interesting experience of cross-cultural interaction with Turks and Americans within the YouthLAB program and then with Georgians and Azerbaijanis within the SUSI exchange program and responded to the students’ questions.

The themes of national identity, cultural heritage, globalization and assimilation smoothly continued during the sessions with newly assigned Peace Corp Volunteers in Armenia. The students learnt new things about the concepts of the melting pot, ethnicity, diversity, minority and majority and then actively brainstormed similarities and differences between American and Armenian cultures.

The camp also allocated significant time to the discussions on environmental issues in Armenia and globally. Access students used lyrics from the King of Pop, Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song”, to address environmental problems and related social movements in Armenia. After the discussion of the Youth International Day video made by the UN volunteers in Armenia, the students committed themselves to becoming more active about generating social change, through initiating different mini projects and awareness raising campaigns in their communities.

The formal learning sessions were accompanied with sports, singing, dancing, and other leisure activities, so in the camp the students celebrated not only their academic achievements of the first year of English instruction but also their general personal growth, the expansion of cross-regional friendships and useful connections with different experts.