Armine (second girl from the right holding a black folder), is part of folklore dancing group that presented a traditional Armenian dance during a regional event.
By Anna Karapetyan*
August 7, 2014—From the time she was a child, Armine, a young woman from the town of Berd in Armenia, liked to read books about history. She dreamed of becoming a historian and of telling visitors from around the world about her small country. An excellent student, Armine passed all her classes and, ultimately, entered the history department at Yerevan State University in the Armenian capital.
Because her high school grades were so good, the university offered Armine a full, four-year scholarship. As an undergraduate, she worked hard and kept up her grades. In addition to her studies, she learned Armenian folk dancing and got a part-time job in Yerevan, where she stayed during the week with relatives. On the weekends, she traveled home to Berd, about 75 miles away, and helped her younger sister and brothers with their homework.
After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Armine knew she would have to go on for further studies in order to fulfill her dream of becoming a historian. But she couldn’t imagine how she would afford the master’s degree tuition, which came to about the same as her mother’s annual salary. Although Armine saved as much as she could from her part-time job, it wasn’t enough.
UMCOR scholarship program
Since 2012, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) in Armenia has implemented a project that seeks to increase access to higher education. The project specifically targets the children of vulnerable clients of the AREGAK Universal Credit Organization (UCO) and partially covers their tuition fees.
AREGAK, an acronym that means “sun” in Armenian, is the Guaranteed Agriculture Assistance for Women program founded by UMCOR 17 years ago. It provides financial services to women and their families who live in poverty in rural and urban areas of Armenia. AREGAK UCO has 28 offices countrywide and serves more than 28,000 clients.
In just two years, UMCOR’s “Provision of Scholarships to AREGAK UCO Clients” project already has helped more than 1,400 students across Armenia to achieve their dream of earning a university degree—and Armine is one of them. “I am so thankful for this scholarship,” she said. “UMCOR’s project is great, as it creates opportunities for students who are short of money.”
Armine now is studying for her M.A. and also spending several hours a week teaching history in one of the schools in Berd. On weekends, she works as a tour guide, sharing with visitors to her country the history of Armenia.
“Thank you, UMCOR, for helping me to pay for my education!” she said. “The scholarship that students receive through this project is the best investment in Armenia’s future!”
August 12 is International Youth Day. Mark the occasion with a gift to Armenia Development, Advance #250225, and support UMCOR’s scholarship program and other community development projects in Armenia.
*Anna Karapetyan is a program officer in UMCOR’s Armenia field office.