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Change the country through education. Larissa Hovhannisyan’s unconditional love phenomenon

“I have always seen and loved Armenia in its entirety. That love has never been romantic. That’s exactly what gives me a real and stable hope that Armenia has a future, and the changes are possible here. When you love someone indefinitely, you forgive all his shortcomings, do not blame for every dismissal. I love Armenia unequivocally, and I do not have other love of the same kind”, – says Larisa Hovhannisyan, the founder of the “Teach for Armenia” program.



“Teach for Armenia” is an educational foundation that engages young leaders who are willing to invest their knowledge and skills in schools in remote communities in Armenia where there is a lack of teachers.



Larisa, born in the Armenian-Irish family and  spent most of her life abroad, has never doubted that her last stop is Armenia. In any way, life will bring her back to her homeland. The return was in 2013. Before that, in 2010, Larisa joined the “Teach For Armenia” program. “I have always been convinced that I will be back. I have always been in touch with Armenia, but I did not know when or why I’m going there. I would like to see my return meaningful and purposeful. I just gave time because I believed that the course was important and that there was a right time for everything.: when that time comes, I’ll feel. In the second year of the “Teach For America” ​​program I realized clearly that this is the string I want to contact with Armenia. This is what I want to do, “says Larisa and adds that the concept of “Teach for Armenia” has been shaped like this.



The main goal of the project is to ensure equal access to education for all children living in Armenia regardless of their place of residence or social status. As a result of the studies conducted at the first stage of the project, schools of the most vulnerable communities of Armenia were separated. At the next stage the collection of project participants began.



“As a result of our research it turned out that the educational needs are really different. There were schools where there had been no foreign language teachers for more than 20 years. The image was of course disgusting, and the responsibility was horrible, but we knew we had a goal, a vision for a better country, a better future. We understood that the starting conditions are very different for children living in different regions of Armenia, and that’s unfair. But we also knew that only complaint would not bring to a wanted result, we should work, “says Larisa.



At the beginning I was meeting with very influential people to present the fund’s activities and get support. Once again, when I met one of the businessmen and told about the idea, he said he believed in our idea, but he did not believe in finding young specialists in Armenia who would agree to leave Yerevan to go to a remote, isolated village and to teach. That businessman was the only person who did not laugh at our idea. At that time, I  theoretically knew that there were such experts, but I was not sure what’s in their hearts. After confirming the first group of teachers, we clearly understood that they are and this number will be multiplied”.



She says that she has never had an idea of failure, even in the widespread skepticism, discouragement, and corruption. Instead, she learned to separate love for the country and people. She confesses that she has had a lot of disappointments with people, but that has never been referred to Armenia.



“We understand that it is difficult to describe someone as good or bad, but for us it is very important that teachers have a positive influence on their pupils –   not only learn, but also form a worldview and value system, to see successful, educated young people , who live in the same conditions as they themselves, bear the same difficulties. It is very important for us that the teacher also understands the environment where his students are learning. Our biggest problem is that we do not know each other.



He does not agree with the opinion that Armenia is the most complicated country to do or change anything. Of course, there are many difficulties, but they are not insurmountable. Larisa is glad that Armenia is dominated by general education schools, there is a common educational system that can be changed and improved.



According to Larissa, one of the greatest achievements of “Teach, Armenia,” is the links between the program participants and relationships formed between teachers, pupils, donors and supporters of different years.



Larissa considers herself an exceptional lucky person. But she also knows that success is also a result of hard work. Even at the end of a hard working day, when tired, Larisa knows that next morning she will be happy to wake up because she knows that she is at the right place at the right time.



Full text in Armenian





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