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Teaching The Teachers

January 20, 2000

Claudia Peschiutta

GLENDALE -- This time, teachers weren't the only ones providing

lessons.

Students at Glendale High School on Wednesday expressed their views on

life in a free society before a group of teachers visiting from Armenia,

which declared its independence from the former Soviet Union less than 10

years ago.

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Freedom is "the ability to make your own choices, without the fear of

persecution or infringing on someone else's freedom," said senior Richard

Swaidan, reading a statement he authored with a group of students.

The exercise, performed by a Glendale High club that seeks to promote

harmony, was just one of many activities observed by the two teams of

seven teachers visiting Glendale and Hoover high schools this week in an

effort to learn about civics education in the U.S.

The three-day visit, which ends today, is part of a program of the

Washington, D.C.-based Academy for Educational Development and sponsored

by the U.S. Agency for International Development, an agency of the

federal government that implements foreign economic and humanitarian aid

programs. The visiting secondary school teachers are representing Junior

Achievement of Armenia, a program that provides educational programs in

more than 300 schools in Armenia.

By openly expressing their ideas, Swaidan said he hoped he and his

fellow students could serve as role models to the visiting teachers, "to

show them how they might want to interact with their students."

Students also have something to learn from the visit, Swaidan said.

"After meeting the teachers, you get to know what people don't have,"

he said. "We have so much more than other people and, sometimes, we take

that for granted."

In her second day at Glendale High, Nelli Danielian, who teaches

secondary school in Yerevan, the capitol city of Armenia, said she had

noticed students in the U.S. are allowed to speak freely in classes.

"Students have more freedom here," she said, through an interpreter.

Danielian said she was impressed to hear the students' ideas on

freedom and the restraints that accompany it.

"Everybody believes in rules, regulations and laws but they are not

afraid of them," she said. "It's because they really feel that is the

right thing."

Hoover High counselor Sirvart Mouradian said the team of teachers at

her school is enjoying meeting teachers and students and asking them

questions.

The teachers are touring the schools through today but will remain in

the U.S. through early February.

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