This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to intern in Armenia through OPIT. I worked with Article 3, a local human rights organization. For my internship I researched, wrote, planned, and did video work for a project about the circumstances, effects, and continuations of Armenia's recent political revolution. I am a rising sophomore in college and I had really wanted to get some experience and insight into the non-profit field to inform my major and career decisions, so the opportunity to work here was very important and influential to me. I was able to meet a lot of people, not only in my organizations but also others in the field, which was very informative in helping me to learn about it.
In addition to the work component, I was able to live with a lovely host family in Yerevan for six weeks. They were really nice and did everything to take care of me and help me make my way around the city. I had told the program staff that I spoke a little Armenian, and they gave me an opportunity to practice with a host family that didn't speak much English (the others in my group got English speaking hosts, however). It was challenging, but a very helpful experience in the long run.
In addition to the work experience in this program, we took a class with a small number of assignments for university credit. The staff in Yerevan was very helpful and checked in with us a lot to make sure we were doing alright and see if there was anything they could help us with to improve our experiences. They also organized some free excursions for us with alumni of their Armenia-US exchange program, which was really fun and let us meet new people and see more of the country. In addition, they helped us to organize our own travel outside of program activities.
One of the best part of my experience was the internship group that I went to Armenia with. There were seven of us, all from different backgrounds, different parts of the US, and working in different fields, but we got along really well, and it was much easier to navigate the challenges of living abroad since I had American friends to talk with. In addition, our group went on two weekend trips together, which was really fun as well as making travel and seeing different parts of the country far easier since we had more people.
Finally, in terms of costs to this program, they offer scholarships for interns in certain areas. My internship did not qualify, but I was able to get a grant independently through my university because it was in the field of public policy and service. Overall, a really amazing experience that made the adventure of living and working in another country accessible, informative, and fun to do.