Ani Avalyan always wanted to go to college in Yerevan. A native of the Berd Region, an impoverished and rural area near Azerbaijan, Ani also wanted to make a difference in her home community as an educator.
In 2016, with help from the Mardigian Scholarship Program, FAR enabled her to fulfill her dreams when she began her studies in psychology at Armenia State Pedagogical University.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in 2020 and, upon graduation, immediately headed back to Artsvaberd where she now works at the local secondary school as a teacher for grades 1 to 8. She works closely with children with learning difficulties and language disabilities.
Ani said that she has never thought of permenantly leaving her village. “My family and my fiancé are here. I always wanted to be back home and I used to get upset when our lecturer would ask the students who among us wanted to be back home. I would be the only one out of 58 students to say, ‘yes, I do.’”
When Ani applied for the Mardigian Scholarship, she never thought that she would be selected as it is highly competitive. “I was so happy and surprised to receive the scholarship. I did well at the university because I was driven to be a professional teacher and because my benefactors believed in me. I am so grateful to them,” she said with a smile. Ani also hopes to establish a psychology club for the high school students at her school, along with some other hobby groups.
In addition to Ani’s scholarship, FAR has also provided support to Ani’s father, Karo. He has been able to grow his small blacksmithing business with help from the “Start Your Business” project, an initiative of BCPP, which helped him to purchase essential tools and equipment.
“It is now very important to fill schools with young teachers who have up-to-date teaching methods and techniques. The educational issue in border communities is, unfortunately, more acute, as young graduates do not often go back to their regions or villages for various reasons, one of them being the lack of job opportunity,” said FAR Science and Education Programs Manager Eduard Karapetyan. “For me, Ani is an embodiment of patriotism. I am sure that such well-educated and dedicated young people can truly make a difference in schools in remote communities like Artsvaberd.”