Syuzanna Muradyan has been volunteering at the FAR Children’s Center for the past few months, where she helps many of the children with their schoolwork, while at the same time putting her academic knowledge into practice. “It’s interesting to work with different characters. For instance, when the kids try to manipulate me so I might skip their lessons, I respond to them with a method of encouragement,” said the 20-year-old who is studying to be a pedagogue at the State Pedagogical University’s Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology.

“I like to study with Ms. Syuzi. She is good,” said 10-year-old Edmon, who prefers reciting poems in Armenian rather than studying English or Russian.

Syuzanna comes from Tavush Village in the Berd Region. She is a recipient of FAR’s Mardigian Scholarship Program, which enables students in Berd to pursue their education at a number of universities around Armenia.

Syuzanna lives with her mom and grandparents. “The scholarship means relief to my mother, in particular. My grandma is a cleaner at the college and my grandpa is retired. My mom didn’t have a permanent job in Berd, so she left for Yerevan once I became a student. Now, she has found a job in a supermarket and we can afford the rent,” she remarked.

She learned about the opportunity to volunteer at the Children’s Center during one of her mandatory visits to FAR’s office. “It was in September when I brought my record book to show my grades, and inquired about volunteer opportunities at FAR because volunteering could be a way for me to express my sincere appreciation for the support FAR has given me,” she continued.

In November, Syuzanna along with 10 other Mardigian Scholarship students, had a site visit at the FAR Children’s Center where they learned about the Center’s mission and its programs. After the meeting, some of the students, including Syuzanna, decided to volunteer and to improve their professional knowledge by working closely with the Center’s psychologists and its social workers.

“In my first years at the university, I was interested in working at an orphanage with abandoned children, but now I would prefer employment at an institution like the FAR Children’s Center,” she said, as the type of interaction one can have with children at the Center interests her more. “I also had short internships at schools, however I benefit much more from this practice in terms of knowledge gained and professional development.”

Another volunteer, Monica Khalatyan, 21, also receives FAR’s Mardigian Scholarship. The future social pedagogue currently majors in pedagogy and educational development at Yerevan State University’s Faculty of Philology.

“I mostly like to work with the little ones,” says Monica, who is from Verin Tsaghkavan Village. “But I generally work with students. I help them with their lessons; we also play intellectual and interactive games. This is a great experience for me.” Monica can see herself working with children in the future.

FAR’s Education and Science Programs Director Eduard Karapetyan sees the experience as a great opportunity for these students. “They can further put their skills into practice at the FAR Mardigian Children’s Center during the summer vacation,” he stated referring to the Center located in Berd, which has similar activities to the center in Yerevan, and operates within the scope of FAR’s Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP).

The FAR Children’s Center is sponsored by the Edward and Helen Mardigian Foundation, the Friends of FAR Children’s Center (U.S.), and the Children’s Center Circle of Friends (Armenia).

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP) is a multidimensional FAR project addressing child poverty in the region of Tavush, sponsored by the Edward and Helen Mardigian Foundation.