Dispatches from Moscow — Michelle Deherian Writes About MSIP 2012


My name is Michelle Deherian and I am a proud Armenian from Canada. I am a 5th year psychology student studying at York University in Toronto and by nature I am fascinated with learning about and observing human inter action. Some important questions arise in everyday life; what defines an individual’s self-concept? How does one differ from those in their environment? And most importantly, how do they interact with and live in a society which thrives on social acceptance?

Well, here I am, living and breathing Moscow, Russia — the beautiful architecture, the most complicated subway system I have ever experienced and the fashionistas who grace the streets of Moscow with their presence. To be honest, upon my arrival to take part in the AGBU Moscow Summer Internship Program (MSIP) I was extremely nervous. I had no idea what I was getting myself into as far as what I was going to see, especially with the potential culture shock I was anticipating. Now, the greatest unsettled argument in the field of Psychology is the nature versus nurture debate. Are we who we are based on genetics or does the environment we live in shape our personal characteristics? Through simple observation since my arrival here in Moscow, I can proudly say that being Armenian comes with a universal feeling of greatness.

Whether you live in Russia, Armenia, Canada, America, France or Bulgaria you have the same caring, hardworking, and fun-loving mentality. My fellow interns are amazing; I could not have selected better people to represent their respective countries. It’s only been a week, and we’ve already grown as a family, and I feel as though I have known them my entire life. We could not be where we are without our nurturing caregivers, Lilit and Lusiné, who have helped us with a comfortable transition to Moscow life. Last but not least, the SIVAM Volunteers have been very helpful from day one. They have gone well out of their way to make sure we are having fun and learning as much as we can about this great country. It has only been a week since we have been here, but we have been so busy with the welcome dinner, Armenian dance classes, Russian language classes, meeting with entrepreneurs, and of course enjoying the night life that time has flown.

This first week has been a great introduction for what I’m sure will be a more eventful five weeks to come. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Da svidanya!.

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