---Santa Barbara, CA
By: Anita Tokatyan
As the 2011-2012 academic year came to an end, the Hidden Road Initiative worked to strengthen the connections between our teams, the children in Akhpradzor, and our supporters. With the help of our donors and members, we accomplished several new projects this year both in USA and in Armenia.
On May 2, the HRI team presented at UCLA’s Armenian Student Association to network with the university students and spread the connection. The presentation was a success and greeted with much excitement. Astkhik Hakobyan, HRI Director of International Operations, felt it was a very empowering experience to socialize with individuals interested in the Hidden Road Initiative and its projects.
The Pen Pal project also took a lively turn when many students from Peabody Elementary school and UCSB wrote letters to the students in Akhpradzor, in an effort to keep the connection going. This project was headed by Astkhik Hakobyan and Hasmik Baghdasaryan who translated the letters with the help of other friends. It is inspiring to see letters from so many individuals who are motivated to connect with the children!
One of the participants of the Pen Pal project were the students of Ms. Talar Ohanian’s third grade class at Peabody Elementary School in Santa Barbara. Her students wrote letters, attached their pictures and collected donations for the children in Akhpradzor, raising $126! This money will be added to our fund to send new textbooks to the villages in Armenia in collaboration with Act For Armenia!
On May 21, the HRI team went to Peabody Elementary to conduct a special presentation and thank the students for their efforts. The main purpose of the presentation was to connect the third graders, empower them to be global citizens, and bring awareness about life in other regions of the world. By playing interactive games, bonding with the students, and discovering the similarities between life in Santa Barbara and life in Akhpradzor, we hoped to empower them with the knowledge that they can make a difference.
To wrap up the quarter, HRI and ASA members gathered last Wednesday for a senior banquet. It was a special night filled with many laughs, memories, dances, and love. As we say our goodbyes to the graduating seniors, we are reminded of their dedication, strength, and excellency in their endeavors. We wish them all the best of luck!
Sadly, HRI will be saying goodbye to two very important team members: Director of Development, Alex Basmadjian, and Founder and Project Manager, Nanor Balabanian. Alex Basmadjian dedicated her time and efforts to HRI’s projects, helping them thrive. She will be transferring to UCSD in the fall and as she embarks on this new journey, we hope to further the HRI network. Nanor Balabanian, with her endless devotion and heartening strength, created this initiative and made HRI flourish into the organization it is today. She will be graduating this quarter and continuing her education at Stanford University.
Ladies we will miss you, but we hope that on your new adventures, we can continue to connect roads and bridge issues together.