November 7, 2008

Summer in Armenia

Since Meredith shared all of her experiences from her trip to Russia, I thought I'd write about my summer in Armenia.

This summer I was an intern in the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia. I lived in a nice apartment right down the street from the Parliment building (and even saw the president driving to work a few times!). I worked your standard 9-5 day, but there was nothing ordinary about what I did at work.

I worked in the Consular Section of the Embassy. The Consular Section is in charge of Visas and American Citizen Services. Some things I did daily were: take fingerprints of non-immigrant visa applicants, answer emails about applying for visas, and just generally help out around the office. For example, I wrote the "Ask the Consul" sections for the website for the months of July-October. I also was able to get out of Yerevan every so often. Once, I got to go to Dilijan, to give a presentation at an "American Corner" about being a college student in the US.
Me answering questions after my talk at the American Corner

One of the unexpected things that happened this summer was the war in Georgia. It definitely livened things up at the Embassy, to say the least. The Consular section was a bustle of activity as we were in charge of helping the evacuation of Americans from Georgia. We helped on our end by meeting the buses at the Armenia/Georgia border and working with passport control officials in Armenia to make sure everything went smoothly. We also ended up helping a lot of anxious Americans in the US locate their relatives who came to Armenia on the convoy. It was a thrilling time and I was lucky to get to be part of it.
Me and my coworkers at the Armenia/Georgia border

Another fun event was the Armenia vs Turkey football (or soccer as we call it here) match. This was really exciting because Armenia and Turkey aren't on the best of terms, and this was the first time they had ever played soccer against each other. Nobody really knew what to expect. Everything ended up being fine, and there were no problems, although Turkey won 2-0, which the Armenians were not happy about. It was also a historic occasion because Turkey's president came to see it, and it was the first time a Turkish head of state had ever come to Armenia.
The two teams and the crowd before the game.

All in all, my experience at the Embassy and interning for the State Department was a good one. My coworkers were wonderful, as was everybody in the Embassy, and I really gained a lot from my time in Armenia. Anybody who is even a little bit interesting in possibly going into the Foreign Service would benefit from a State Department internship and I highly recommend it.

Click on any image to see the full size, or to see all my pictures from this summer, go to:

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