Testimonial by Oula Alrifai

Master's Candidate at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University

6 weeks 2018 Persian Language Summer School

So I applied for ASPIRNTUM’s Persian summer program not knowing what to expect. I’ve never been to Armenia and I was somewhat hesitant and afraid of signing up for the program and traveling all the way across the world to the unknown… But the moment I arrived in Yerevan, I felt an amazing connection with the place and people; friendly, lively, and generous Armenians greeted me with smiles everywhere and did everything to make me feel at home.

On my very first day I was welcomed with more than five buckets of cold water that were dumped on me on the streets by locals while loudly laughing and saying: “Welcome to Armenia!!!.” It was the day of Vardavar; an ancient festival celebrated in July where people drench each other publicly with water via all means possible. “This is a good thing... It’s for good luck” they said to me. Historically, it’s to celebrate Astghik who was the Goddess of Water, Beauty, Love, and Fertility! I think it was all worth it and I really enjoyed being part of this unique and incredible celebration! Later that day, beautiful views took my breath away as I kept my face to the sun of the East at the Temple of Garni…

The fact that a DNA test I had a few years ago which revealed some Armenian roots made me connect further with this nation and its beautiful people. While being there, I experienced a unique feeling of belonging..

Now six weeks have passed, they were full of daily exciting Persian classes and weekend adventures in the dreamy Armenian nature. I did not only learn more Persian poetry thanks to the great Leili Vatani, but I learned a lot about the fascinating history of Armenia thanks to ASPIRANTUM’s team and especially its amazing Director, Khachik Gevorgyan.

At Zvartnots Airport when leaving, an officer told me to make sure to come visit again, I smiled and said that I cannot wait to come back! But for now, the 2,000 photos I took of this incredible country, Gata, Tushpa Wine, and IJEVAN Mulberry vodka will aid with my post-Armenia trip depression until next time! Thank you ASPIRANTUM for making my experience unforgettable!

Other Testimonials.

Jessica Page

MPhil candidate in Modern Middle Eastern Studies, Oxford University, UK

“I cannot recommend the Persian program enough. This program was very challenging, yet flexible enough for postgraduate students who are also doing summer research in Armenia. I would certainly come back for another summer.”

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Asha Sawhney

BA student, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Northwestern University, USA

“The classes are intense but the quality of instruction is excellent and the curriculum is structured such that its beneficial to students with a wide range of academic focuses whether that be cultural, political, historical, etc.”

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