The Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA) hosted a delegation of young activists from Armenia late November, early December 2018, sponsored by the Open World exchange program of the U.S. Congress. Five young professionals involved in the velvet revolution and a facilitator took part in a whirlwind week of meetings and site visits in the Boston area on topics covering activism, transition to leadership, civic participation, and the U.S. legislative process. The group consisted of three young men, students at Yerevan State University, who founded the Restart Initiative in early 2018. Two young ladies – one from Sisian involved in children’s education, and one from Goris who works for the Rights Initiative Center NGO.
The group met with federal, state and municipal legislative/administrative heads, and NGO leaders and their organizations. Highlights included a meeting with Mayor Marc McGovern of Cambridge, MA. The delegates commented that this would not really be possible in Armenia, to sit down and have a conversation with a city mayor. Another highlight was the panel discussion in which the young adults from Armenia were the panelists. They shared their experiences of their America trip, as well as the current realities in Armenia, including post-Velvet Revolution situations and their future plans upon their return. The group also met with staff from Congresswoman Katherine Clark’s office, as well as State Representative Jonathan Hecht, Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, and local Watertown town officials.
Other meetings included a session with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Pioneer Institute, Common Cause, Amnesty International, Campus Compact, and the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. CYSCA project manager Alisa Stepanian commented, “It was a privilege to host these young activist leaders from Armenia. We are indeed encouraged that several of the professionals whom they met expressed interest in working with the delegates on various projects and continuing their dialogue on activism and transition to leadership.”
This group was sponsored by Open World, the only federal legislative exchange program working with all the post-Soviet republics. It brings groups of young professionals on different topics to the United States. During their stay, groups are immersed in a week of activities and meetings on their respective themes. CYSCA was very proud to host this wonderful, passionate group and looks forward to continued opportunities.
CYSCA was formed in 1987 as a nonprofit corporation by a group of concerned citizens of Cambridge, MA. In the 30 years which have followed, many citizen exchanges and training programs have taken place. In the past 20 years alone, CYSCA has hosted over 20 professional groups from Armenia on a variety of themes, such as entrepreneurship, social work, education, theater management, university administration, museum management, aviation, NGO management, and public health, as well as ten youth exchanges, school partnerships, and school aid in Armenia. For more information, visit www.cambridgeyerevan.org .