International KAAD Conference in Yerevan/Armenia
From June 14th to 17th 2017, 30 alumni from Armenia, Georgia, Hungary and Ukraine were invited by the Armenian Alumni Association to the international conference “Changing Eastern Europe: Educational Institutionalization – New Dimensions, Perspectives and Challenges”. The conference took place at Brujssow University of Languages and Social Sciences in Yerevan and was organized by Dr. Elena Etaryan and Eduard Saroyan.
The Vice-Rector for International Affairs together with Angelina Hovhannisyan, Department for International Relations of the Armenian Ministry of Education, focused in their talk on the difficulties that Armenian students are facing abroad – particularly those who take part in exchange-programs. According to the results of a survey among students, the main problems are insufficient language skills, financial problems, separation from relatives, problems of adjustment as well as difficulties to relate their experience to their study program at home. Dr. Frank Meier from the University of Dusseldorf picked up on these problems by describing the discrepancy between desired mobility and the experiences made abroad – including difficulties with the curricula of the study programs. In many cases, studying abroad causes delays in one’s study schedule. Solutions are so-called “mobility windows” embedded in the study program. Prof. Andrea Cnyrim from the University of Karlsruhe exemplified with video clips the importance of intercultural competences on all sides. Both, hosts and guests have to adjust to each other. Markus Leimbach, Head of the KAAD Eastern Europe Department, used the opportunity to present to the students and lecturers of the Brujssow University the work of KAAD and the scholarship opportunities.
Vivid examples of the educational infrastructure in Eastern (Central) Europe and its internationalization were given by various KAAD alumni. Topics dealt with were changing values in educational exchange (Armenia), internationalization in Ukraine and educational developments in Georgia and Hungary in the context of transformation processes.
The cultural program of the conference included a visit to the ancient village of Garni and the Armenian Genocide-Museum in Yerevan.