Outreach & Research in Akhourian, Armenia – June 5, 2015

Today was our first day of outreach and research in Akhourian, Armenia.  Akhourian is a town of roughly 10,000 just east of Armenia’s second largest city (Gyumri).  We were able to conduct our outreach and research at the Armenian Relief Society’s Mother & Child Clinic & Birthing Center.  Dr. Avagyan directs the clinic, and together with his staff gave unprecedented support.  For this outreach we partnered with the Armenian-American Wellness Center, who joined the health fair to provide a number of women’s health screenings, including thyroid and breast cancer screenings.

These two organizations are wonderful partners, and we hope to be wonderful partners for them as well.  Together we came together with one hope- to create better health outcomes in Armenia.

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Tsitsernakaberd – Visiting the Armenian Genocide Museum

We had an opportunity to visit Tsitsernakaberd, the Armenian Genocide Museum.  This visit was very special because 2015 is the centennial of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, when the Ottoman Turk government systematically killed an estimated 1.5 million christian Armenians.  Much like the Jewish Holocaust has its deniers, there too exist deniers of the Armenian Genocide.  Regardless, it was an emotional and educational visit, and one that is unforgettable.

We also stopped by the vast Armenian Sports Complex for – you guessed it – more photos!

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Matenadaran- The Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts

The Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts (or Matenadaran) capped off a full day of intense preparation and study for what lie ahead.  While at Matenadaran we were able to view ancient manuscripts that are truly world treasures, and provide context for the enduring and rich culture of Armenia.  Oh yeah- we took a few photos as well!

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Global Health Armenia Class of 2014- A Retrospective

This video contains moments and memories from the University of Utah’s Learning Abroad program to Armenia.  Students in the Global Health Armenia program worked with their counterparts at Yerevan State Medical School – as well as with many wonderful local collaborators – under the direction of Dr. Wright and the Ministry of Health of Armenia.  This is a short video of some of the fun and treasured moments from 2014, with the promise of many more amazing memories in 2015 and beyond!

Amazing Armenia 2015 – Global Health & Preparation for Success

Today was full of preparation for our outreach presentations and research.  However, we were able at the end of today to visit the History Museum of Armenia, which is located on Republic Square in the center of Yerevan.  While there we were able to see a variety of ancient artifacts dating back thousands of years that tell the story of Armenia and its wonderful people.

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Kyle Simonsen – Student Reflection for Monday, June 1, 2015

IMG_5953First of all, I really love living downtown! The apartment is fantastic, the only issue is the phone number. What you have listed doesn’t ring to our phone, so it is difficult for the other house to contact us right now. I plan on getting SIM cards sometime tomorrow, which should alleviate much of the issue. It is amazing to have everything right outside our door. It’s going to make for a really easy time enjoying the city. Speaking of enjoying the city, because Lance left before shopping and I around 1:00, the group didn’t hesitate to spend some time exploring. I had shown Jessica some of the major places two days ago, so she was able to guide them around. They went to cafe central and managed ordering and paying without an Armenian speaker, which I was impressed with. They seem like a great group and I’m excited to get to know them better. Having this free day was nice for everyone to get acclimated and build good group unity.

So I have done some thinking about why I’ve come back to Armenia so many times. There are definitely more selfish reasons, such as helping my language skills, letting me visit my good friends here, and a good resume builder. But I couldn’t really put my real reasons into words until Saturday morning. I had some free time and decided to take a book down near the opera house and read for a few hours. I found a nice bench in the shade and opened my Armenian copy of Les Miserables, Թշվառներ. At one point, the character Jean Valjean makes the statement when talking to some farmers, “”Remember this, my friends: there are no such things as bad plants or bad men. There are only bad cultivators.” (Armenian translation: Մի մոռացեք, որ ոչ վատ խոտեր կան, ոչ էլ վատ մարդիկ։ Կան միայն վատ մշակողներ” : As I looked out around me, at the older women cleaning the flower beds, the teenagers lighting up cigarettes together, even witnessing a bribe right in front of me, I was reminded that even with all their challenges, there are no bad people. Only poor gardeners. What does that have to do with why I am here for the fourth time? I want to help these amazing people reach their full potential. If I can but change one woman’s perspective towards breast cancer, encourage someone to manage their diabetes, or help one mother understand proper nutrition, I will have made a difference. And my ultimate hope is to help build the programs and relationships that will leave a lasting change upon the everyday healthcare in Armenia. The other motivation driving me is a desire to become a better gardener. I want to develop the skills necessary to make a difference in others’ lives every day. Who I am today is directly related to my many experiences in the Republic of Armenia. I keep coming back because I have so much more to give and so much more to learn.

Thank you հազար անգամ for this amazing opportunity. I look forward to another great year!


Getting Started: Global Health Armenia 2015

Now that we’ve arrived in Yerevan, Armenia, it’s time to start working.  We met together at our downtown student housing for a cultural briefing as well as instruction from Dr. Hripsime Wright.  In addition to our research, we are also conducting outreach right away, and look forward to our time in beautiful Armenia!

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