Every year, American Councils office in Yerevan hosts students from Lehigh University for professional internships. In 2016, Bohan Chen, a sophomore originally from China, traveled to Armenia for a summer internship at the Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) as part of his study abroad program. We share Bohan’s article about his impressions and reflections on the experience he had in Armenia. If you are interested in for-credit internship opportunities in Armenia, visit: http://www.acstudyabroad.org/opit/
“It is almost the end of my journey in Armenia. Today is the last whole day that I have in Yerevan, and I start thinking how amazing the whole trip is. I start thinking how powerful the globalization is. I, as an international student from China, come to Armenia from an American college program. Spontaneously, three countries from three continents are linked together.
Looking back to my whole program here, I was shocked by the culture differences; I was surprised by the similarities that are conveyed in different cultures. Studying in the U.S. as an international student from China, I have experienced different sides of the eastern and western culture. As a country that lies between the western world and the eastern world, Armenia shows me a unique confusion of both sides.
In terms of the western side, I have seen the will of Armenians to express their emotions. Armenians usually greet/say goodbye to each other by kissing each other’s cheek once. They really like hugging and expressing their emotions. People are really welcoming and inviting, especially the young teenagers I met in Yerevan through FLEX (Future Leaders Exchange Program). I really appreciate the enthusiasm of Armenians. Armenia may not be one of the top economically developed countries in the world, but the people here must be one of the happiest ones. According to the statistics from World Health Organization, Armenian teenagers are one of the happiest teenagers in the world. I can definitely believe that. I see that people here are happy with who/where they are. I saw the proofs from hanging out with FLEX alumni (who have studied in the U.S. as exchange student). They are a group of bright, smart, ambitious teenagers, which show the future of this nation.
In terms of the eastern side, Armenians are generally family-oriented. In another word, they value the connections within the family. In Armenia, people usually live together with their family members, and they are dependent and close to each other. The elders are usually respected and valued highly in the society. Those features are really similar to the eastern culture.
The fusion gives this nation a unique history, and that’s why the Armenian culture makes me feel that it is so special and charming.
Those experiences are really interesting, and they do make my whole trip here unforgettable. I have given an interview to a local TV station when I traveled to Noravanq; I have got a set of photos of me wearing Armenian traditional costumes. The whole program is definitely a positive experience to me. To be honest, I was worried about being alone in a non-familiar country. However, I got a lot of supports from American Councils in Armenia, Eurasia Partnership Foundation (my host organization) and my host family. I really want to thank all the people who helped me here. Because of them, my whole trip is extremely unique and memorable.”