The focus of the day was a visit to our third-party provider in Yerevan, Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF), an NGO with a strong mission: "to empower people to effect change for social justice and economic prosperity through hands-on programs, helping them to improve their communities and their own lives." EPF's guiding vision is "a South Caucasus that is peaceful, conflict-free and cooperative with civically engaged citizens, socially responsible businesses, and sustainable, accountable and effective third sector organizations. Because our operating landscape is one of political unrest, military confrontation, economic crisis and limited regional cooperation, we must harness the potential of community activism and local philanthropy to make a contribution to peace- and confidence-building." Stonehill College could not ask for a better partner in this region. Their experienced, energetic, and welcoming staff epitomizes international philanthropy, democratic institution building, grassroots human rights and civil society work, and progressive thought leadership. We left our very thorough orientation knowing that our students were in good hands and with gratitude for their unique blend of warmth and professionalism.
We spent a bit more time touring the heart of Yerevan, viewing public art and gardens and were treated to a string orchestra concert featuring the dynamic violin soloist, Sergey Khachatryan, in the wonderfully grim, Soviet-era Aram Khachaturyan Concert Hall. Excellent acoustics and luxurious seats! The packed house hauled Sergey back for four encores! In his last, he played a lovely Armenian folksong, whispering delicate harmonics, bidding the enthusiastic, hometown audience bari gisher (good night).