PH International

American Library and Training Center Community Event on “Vital Talks of Hope, Determination and Action”

Armenia | AM Tavush Outreach | 22 Nov 2022

On November 22, 2022, for the second time in 2022, the central conference hall of the Ijevan Branch of Yerevan State University was full of over 130 students who attended the “Vital Talks of Hope, Determination and Action” event hosting 4 inspiring speakers: Ladislav Beranek, the Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Armenia, Gevorg Simonyan, the Head of the RA Probation Service, Narine Grigoryan, Actress and Director of the Armenian State Theater and Cinema, Honorable Artist of RA, and Sargis Stepanyan, Founding President of the RA Sports Federation for the Disabled, a three-time champion of the World Para-arm-wrestling Championship and a two-time champion of the European Para-arm-wrestling Championship, recipient of the Medal "For Courage", Lieutenant Colonel of RA Armed Forces.

The event was initiated by the American Library and Training Center (ALTC) established in 2020 in the Ijevan University under the auspices of “Tavush Outreach Program” funded through the U.S. Department of State Public Diplomacy Section grant and implemented by PH International.

All the invited speakers had truly inspiring life stories and important messages to share with the audience.

Ladi Beranek, a native of the Czech Republic, spoke about the remarkable and life-changing international journey which for him started from a small Czech town, his birthplace, and led him to the state of Vermont, USA, where he was admitted for his University studies and upon graduation became a successful diplomat. He stressed the importance of setting and following dreams even when they seem impossible, the importance of relying on small steps and diligent work, and believing in one’s abilities to overcome challenges.

Gevorg Simonyan, Head of the RA Probation Service of the Justice Ministry, spoke about the mission of their service which is the provision of restorative justice and resocialization programs for people who have had conflicts with law and have been convicted. He explained the importance and enormous challenges of understanding the personal stories, the circumstances of delinquent individuals’ lives and working with them to impact their mindset and value system so that they realize the harm caused by their actions, change their behaviors and upon release act as law-abiding citizens and fully-fledged members of their communities.

The next speaker was Narine Grigoryan whose presentation was entitled "Keep Smiling and Life Will Smile Back." She frankly shared about the difficulties that her family faced when they moved from Armenia to Artsakh, the ups and downs of her career path and her family not favoring of her choice of profession, and encouraged the participants to always seek and find in themselves motivation, will and determination to achieve their dream.

The last speaker, Sargis Stepanyan, three-time champion of the World Para-Arm-wrestling Championship and two-time champion of the European Para-Armwrestling Championship, recipient of the Medal "For Courage", Lieutenant Colonel of RA Armed Forces, spoke on "The Power of Will". He gave a very touching talk about his story of losing his lower limbs and right upper limb after a mine explosion at the battlefield and how to cope with the tragedy and go back to being yourself. With the help of Sargis, many people have rediscovered themselves, became professionals and record-breaking sportsmen.

The presentations sparked a significant interest among the audience, and a lively Q&A session between the speakers and the students followed the talks. As recognition of the speakers’ important work, personal and professional contributions and their public service, Project Harmony and the U.S. Embassy awarded the presenters with Certificates of Acknowledgment and Gratitude.