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School for Young Leaders – Generation of Change.

n 2006, the School for Young Leaders of Armenia was founded, with the aim of promoting development of young people in the country. From the Karabagh conflict to women’s rights, SYL engages youth in order to live up to its motto to use thoughtful power in order to change the world. Financed through the state budget as well as additional funding sources, SYL offers free education with flexible classroom time and caters to both Armenians and those from the Diaspora. In addition, lecturers include both public figures like Vigen Sargsyan, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President of Armenia, and experts in public speaking and rhetoric, marketing, etc. from many Western schools like Harvard Business School and MIT. Classroom time is set up so that students not only learn rhetoric and receive information, but they also are encouraged and required to practice their newfound skills. Admission, which is highly competitive, consists of four stages: application submission, an analytical essay, psychological testing and an interview. Students take three midterm exams per year and complete a major final project by graduation.

Projects include trainings on Business start up tips during which business management specialists would travel around the country, and share their experience with youth in other regions around the country. The "One Woman, One World" photography exhibition was held in Yerevan’s "Lover’s Park" in March and later moved to Naregatsi Art Institute. Information about the event was disseminated primarily through social media networks, student councils and One Women, One World” Flashmob. Winners of the competition were selected through online voting. And the "Get to Know Armenia" program organizes hiking and ecology trips throughout Armenia and Karabagh. This group has even formed a hiking club, which already has 600 members.

"Many adults have confessed that they might have made great achievements if such project could have been organized in their time," Artak Shakaryan, SYL Founder said. Along with its main activity, the school has also helped 15 students to continue their education through foreign programs or universities, like Karine Ghazaryan who studies at Essex University, Department of Law. In 2007, SYL organized 10 members’ visit to Harvard Business School to participate in a training on business negotiation. "We change the way of thinking. [We] teach students how to think more freely and be more tolerant. We have students from both the Republican Party and the Opposition. We make every effort to help them to transfer their healthy dialogue to their structures. As those young people have influence in their organizations and will become leaders in future," said Artak.

New courses will be introduced in the school this September — like a spiritual values course in cooperating with the Armenian Apostolic Church.

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