INTERVIEW WITH THE LEAGUE’S FIRST VOLUNTEER FROM THE US ALAN VAHE GRIGORYAN
– It’s the last day of your volunteer placement in our organization and we’d like to hear your feedback about this 1,5 month long professional and personal experience in Armenia. How did you feel as American Armenian in Yerevan?
I loved it here. I always do. Occasionally, it’s difficult to cohere into the Armenian society, cause the mentality is so much different from the US, but overall, interacting is not that hard if you know the language.
Have you ever heard about lifelong learning before starting your volunteer job at the Armenian Lifelong Learning League?
No, I have never heard of it before. This field is completely new for me. I have always been interested in public policy, but never thought of lifelong learning being part of it. Even if there are lifelong learning agencies in the USA, I have never paid much attention to them. Although it might have been labeled differently. The process is still the same everywhere: people need to be educated and skilled for better job prospects and life chances all over the world.
Do you think you’ve gained much from volunteering with us?
As it’s a new field for me, I surely gained a lot from researching international strategy pages on lifelong learning. I’ve learned how economics and education are interrelated, the importance of vocational training and learning throughout one’s life. In America I always get new information online. It also makes part of a person’s learning process – something I’ve always taken for granted – but now I don’t any more. Researching different European and Asian countries, their lifelong learning policies and strategies opened my mind up to how these countries function in terms of education, how important it is to provide societies with diversity of training opportunities and how useful it is to have an organized system to let everyone have access to education and training. Overall, the whole field has been very interesting for me.
Once we talked about learning styles and paths of people and you mentioned that you learn a lot from searching the Internet, using online resources like Wikipedia. Do you think you know how you can mix and find the resources?
It’s usually spontaneous. I have been looking through the internet for finding whatever spots my interest, even if I know a little bit about that, I look it down on Wikipedia and that would make me learn more about it. I think it’s important that it shouldn’t be forced. I myself like to learn on my own.
So, do you consider yourself an independent learner or you need somebody to guide you?
Well, it depends on the subject. If it’s history oriented or something at my alley I would like to be independent. If it’s scientific, technical or maybe vocational I’ll need somebody to guide me. I’m sure, it’s important to have blended approach to learning styles and methodologies so that we can learn to adapt the resources to our own needs.
Can you bring an example of a practical learning process, a hands-on approach?
Maybe an example I give, will be learning a new computer program, for example Photoshop, from somebody then you’ll have to be an independent after you learn it and use it practically , that is you need to apply to your own skills to construct your practice or expertise.
You have been living in Armenia for over a month. I wonder, have you noticed the practical part of lifelong learning in Armenia? Do you feel that people have that will to learn here?
I cannot say that I’ve recognized or seen it, but it’s an important objective for the organisation (interviewer’s note: the League) to get people to perception that learning throughout life is vital and necessary for further development of an individual. Market is always changing and skills/ knowledge has to also change accordingly in order to become economically competitive. By focusing on readjustment, education, and training, I think lifelong learning framework, once established, will move the country in the right direction.
Would you like to be involved in another volunteer program in the field of lifelong learning? If yes, which aspect of LLL will you choose?
Yes. If an opportunity calls I may come back. I’ll mix all the aspects. I can’t point out one particular spot I would like to work on but it would be great to communicate with people and share with them what I’ve learned about lifelong learning.
Thank you very much for your efforts, your contribution was invaluable! We wish you lots of success in your further professional career, and of course will be happy to greet you back in Armenia again.
Interviewed by Ani Tosunyan