GLENDALE—Glendale Community College is enhancing its already strong connection to the Armenian community with the announcement of a Memorandum of Understanding with Yerevan State University. GCC’s agreement with the college in Armenia is intended to strengthen ties between educational institutions, facilitate international collaboration, and promote educational and cultural exchange opportunities for students and faculty.
During its August 15 meeting, GCC’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the MOU which creates a six-member “Exchange Task Force” comprised of three members from each college who will focus on developing valuable joint programs and action plans to carry out the MOU’s goal to “further understand, cultivate and expand academic, social and cultural factors that impact global students in their respective settings.”
Trustee Dr. Armine Hacopian was GCC Board President when YSU first approached GCC three years ago. Since then, Dr. Hacopian has spearheaded the college’s due diligence while championing the joint collaboration. “I was fortunate to visit Armenia two years ago where I visited Yerevan State and witnessed the great work being done there. I applaud my colleagues on the Board for supporting this collaborative effort that will benefit both institutions while leading the way toward a stronger global community,” said Dr. Hacopian.
The GCC Trustee vote on the three-year MOU occurred during the same August meeting that the Board unanimously passed a resolution supporting Artsakh and “unequivocally condemning the illegal and inhumane blockade enforced by Azerbaijan against Artsakh.” Since then, forces from Azerbaijan led a total assault in September that killed at least two-hundred people and forced 120,000 ethnic Armenian residents to flee the region after preventing access to food and basic human survival needs for nine months.
“We stand united with the people of Artsakh,” said Board President Dr. Sevan Benlian. “More than one third of our GCC student population is Armenian, many of whom have family and loved ones directly affected by this tragedy. At the time of the resolution, we were very aware how precarious the situation was for the people living in Artsakh. Now that our fears have been realized, it’s even more important that we show our support.”
Also, during the same meeting, a presentation on a recent Study Abroad program to Armenia underscored GCC’s commitment to international learning. Eighteen students between the ages of fourteen and 75 years old spent two weeks participating in the two-unit international field studies class that began in late June.
“It’s the first time in sixteen years that GCC’s Study Abroad program traveled to Armenia,” said GCC Superintendent/President Dr. Ryan Cornner. “Hearing from the students, which included a longtime GCC instructor, about their impactful experience is a testament to the life changing power of international learning. GCC is already working on another Armenian Study Abroad program to join our popular programs including Italy, Ireland, New Zealand and Bali.”
“Many of our students are very familiar with the history and culture of Armenia, but there is nothing like experiencing it in person,” said Dr. Sevada Chamras who, along with Professor Zohara Kaye, oversaw the program’s return to Armenia this past summer. “At GCC, being a service to the community means being part of the community. We can do that by developing curriculum that has a deep connection for our students. As we’ve seen recently, current events are connected to historic events. The students who participated in our program this summer are now in a better position to process what is happening and share their perspective with their peers.”
Dr. Chamras noted that he and Zohara are already making plans for another Study Abroad program to Armenia in 2025.