Harvard University students’ two-month adventures in Armenia – 2

27.07.2015 | 10:43 Home / News / Articles /

Along with Harvard University, the Central Bank of Armenia has been carrying out a summer internship for already three years.

As already informed, Dilijan Training and Research Center has hosted five Harvard University students – Uliana Savostenko, Anna Papp, Michael He, Kevin Miller and Marc Papazian.

Banks.am has talked to three of the interns.

Michael He conducts a research on “How to Make Armenia More Attractive for Chinese Investors,” Uliana Savostenko conducts a research on “International Remittances as a Source of Entrepreneurial Financing” and Anna Papp researches “Eurasian Economic Union and the Conduct of Firms.”

-What did you know about Armenia before visiting the country?

Michael: To tell the truth, I knew very little about Armenia until the last six months. I first heard of it through Kardashian family. I later came across the announcement of the joint summer internship organized by the Central Bank of Armenia and Harvard University. I studied the country and realized it is where I want to be this summer.


Michael He
Photo: Mediamax

My parents neither knew much about Armenia, but my grandparents were aware. They had grown up in Communist China and had general knowledge of all USSR countries. Thus, they were very enthusiastic about my planned visit to Armenia.

I also have an Armenian classmate. We have studied together since the first grade. He is currently in Armenia and we will meet by all means.

Uliana: Of course, I knew about Armenia more than Michael as I have many Armenian friends in Russia. I knew I would be participating in quite an interesting project in a very beautiful place.


Uliana Savostenko
Photo: Mediamax

Anna: My parents and my grandparents who come from Hungary visited Armenia a few years ago, thus I knew a few things about the country.

-Summing up the two months you spent in Armenia what amazed you most?

Michael: The most positive and surprising thing was the dynamic night life. People of all ages walk in the evening with their families and enjoy the summer nights. The fountains of the Republic Square are also very beautiful. I also liked the stroll around the Swan Lake. During Vardavar we also threw ourselves into the lake just like Kanye West did (laughs, ed.:).

Uliana: We were in Gyumri and I wanted to buy an apricot while walking in the local market. At the moment I wanted to pay, the saleswoman told me there was no need for it. It’s a good example showing how hospitable, positive and friendly people in here are. Armenian cuisine is also wonderful.

Anna: The warm attitude local people display to us makes us feel the need to give more to this country. Before visiting Armenia I used to think I would not be able to stand such hot climate, but I not only stood it but also got very much impressed.


Anna Papp
Photo: Mediamax

-How attractive is Armenia in terms of foreign investments?

Michael: I can answer that question drawing comparisons between Armenia and China. China is currently implementing a huge project the ultimate goal of which is to build a rail link from Shanghai to Europe. It might also cross Iran and Armenia.

I believe it will be successfully completed as both China and Russia are interested in higher level of integration for EEU (Eurasian Economic Union) countries and as Armenia is the southernmost among these countries it might be picked as a transit country. Interestingly, the two countries had a number of official meetings recently.

-If you were a foreign investor, in which sectors would you choose to invest?

Michael: Recently a Chinese company opened an office in Yerevan. They decided to firstly enter the Armenian market and only then expand to European. During a talk with us they said that the investment made in Armenia was due to the enormous intellectual potential they had observed in here.

Although there is still room for development, the intellectual capacities of the population are higher as compared with other such countries. Considering this I am inclined to think that Armenia is a good place for foreign investments. I believe China knows Armenia is a safe country in terms of investments. Armenia is way safer than many countries. This is why the construction of the railway is a good plan as there is lower risk.

Uliana: I think Armenia should focus on green technologies. Human capital is also an excellent resource which is probably not that effectively used at present. The IT potential should also be employed. We visited Tumo Center and we were told about how much was done for the technological education of children. I believe Armenia will have great potential a few years down the road.

Anna: I surely agree with the views Michael and Uliana expressed. I should simply add that Armenia can serve as a bridge between Europe and Asia. Armenia is believed to be a good option for European investors to enter EEU and CIS markets.

Banks.am’s interview with Harvard University students who took an internship in Armenia in 2014 is available here (in armenian).

Narine Daneghyan

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