OID: Hi, Ani! Thanks for talking to OID today. Please start out by telling us a something about yourself: where are you from, what makes you passionate about development, and why did you decide to pursue a Master’s in International Development at GWU?
Ani Avetisyan: I am from Yerevan, Armenia. For those of you who know little about Armenia, is it one of the fifteen post-Soviet republics. Armenia is also the cradle of Christianity and the home of numerous medieval monasteries. (Editor’s note: Ani used to work for birthright Armenia and doesn’t always talk like a tour guide. But when she does, you learn something!)
What makes me passionate about development is my country’s own history and the opportunities it has for the future. The past two decades have been the most challenging ones in our history, marked by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the outburst of the Nagorno Kharabakh conflict, and a tragic earthquake. Although there have been tremendous achievements not only on the public reform side but also in civil society, there is still room for improvement.
As far as for my decision to join IDS, I’d say it was not a difficult one. The program stands out for its’ academic rigor while simultaneously providing opportunities to train students in a real-world setting.
OID: Where are you this/these summer and how did you get this position(s)?
Ani Avetisyan: This past spring I was interning at the Office of Investment Policy at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Upon the completion of my internship, I was given the opportunity to extend the contract through the summer semester.
OID: It seems like a lot of the IDS students went abroad this summer. How did you decide to stay in DC? Are you happy that you did? What do you think you gained from this experience?
Ani Avetisyan: As an international student, I decided to capitalize on my time in this important city and gain further experience in D.C. I have come to realize how important happy hours and networking events are, so I made the most of networking this summer. Also, because I had more spare time in my hands, I was able to explore the city. D.C. has so much to offer in the summer such as jazz in the garden, outdoor movies on the National Mall to name a few!
OID: The first years are starting their first year of grad school. What do you wish someone had told you when you started grad school?
Ani Avetisyan: I know the first semester hits you hard, but it does get better.
OID: Any class recommendations or favorite study spots that you want to share with the group?
Ani Avetisyan: The sixth floor at Gelman and the Lower Level computer room were my favorite spots to study last year. Since the newly renovated second floor was opened, Gelman has become my second home.
As for classes, I would recommend International Development Management Tools and Processes, which gives you hands on experience with a real client. I found this course especially useful in preparation for the final capstone project.
I would definitely suggest students try to get out of their comfort zone when choosing classes. It is the challenging classes that will eventually help you think outside the box.