A Los Angeles Armenian Becomes a Moscow Armenian… Just for the Summer

As our Moscow Summer Intern Program wraps up this weekend, one participant, Garo Yaghsezian, takes a look back at what made his time as a temporary Muscovite so wonderful:

My name is Garo Yaghsezian, and I am from Los Angeles, California. I attend Loyola Marymount University where I study Political Science and International Relations with an emphasis on the Middle East. I study different political and cultural aspects of diverse countries, people, and cultures that inhabit this world. So what can I say about Moscow?

Well, once you look past the mess and dirt that is expected of a city with this large of a magnitude, you truly start to see…well, more mess and dirt. I guess you are waiting for a “just kidding,” right? Well, I’m serious and I’m even trying to maintain some decorum on the issue. The only thing that is making my summer in Moscow not only enjoyable but also rewarding is the fact that I am here through MSIP.

Personally, I am not fond of the city; what I am fond of, however, is the amazing Armenian youth and program volunteers who reside in it. In the past 4 weeks, I have not only met fellow Armenians participating in the internship, but I have also met a strong knit and active group of local Armenians who have shown me a different side to the same culture. They are always willing to join and participate in our events, sometimes with even more enthusiasm than some of our interns. We laugh, we joke, we dance (not so well I might add). But most importantly, we realize that there is nothing more important than forming a strong bond with our fellow Armenians.

In the beginning, the internship was the main reason I came to Moscow. I wanted to experience life in the working world. I was so interested and eager to work in an international company that I thought anything else I got out of the program was just an added bonus. I didn’t realize that my internship would fall second to an even greater reward. Being able to experience living in a different country with fellow Armenians from around the world is an amazing opportunity. We are different, but at the same time we understand each other on a deeper level. We realize that, although we might come from the US, Canada, France, Bulgaria, or London, we are first and foremost Armenian.

During these six weeks, we have a jam-packed schedule. Our week usually starts off with Armenian dance class. Although our looks say otherwise, if you were to judge us on our dancing skills, we are the farthest thing from being Armenian. I guess that trait skipped a generation. Apart from being rhythmically challenged, we still enjoy learning Kochari and dancing to traditional Armenian music. Russian Language class is our second activity and is that a trip. I thought learning French was a challenge. Nevertheless, we always put our best foot forward and try our best.

Our voyage to St. Petersburg was amazing. It was our time to unwind, relax, and experience Russia’s “Northern Capital.” It was an interesting and educational trip, filled with sightseeing at Peterhof and Hermitage, boat rides along the Neva River, and Vartavar with locals at the Armenian church.

All in all, I’d like to thank the special people I have met through this program, interns and volunteers alike. You guys made it possible for me to look past this city and truly enjoy Moscow. A special thanks to our coordinators, Lusine and Lilit, who have put in an absurd amount of time and effort into making this program an unforgettable experience. We are eternally grateful for all your hard work.

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