Mariam Kharatyan: a future radio engineer from Marts

24 March 2023

By Knar Babayan
Photos by: Knar Babayan

4 min read

Her journey with COAF began at the age of 10 when she attended COAF’s summer camp at the SMART Center in Lori for the first time. Today, at 18 years old, Mariam Kharatyan is participating in her eighth SMART afterschool program while working as an intern at the COAF SMART Center and hosting her own podcast, aptly titled SMARTcast.

Mariam, from the village of Marts in Armenia’s Lori region, firmly believes that the only requirement for learning something new and being active is a genuine desire to do so. For her, even the poor road conditions in her village aren’t an obstacle.

“We’ve formed an initiative group with the proactive youth of our village and are implementing various community programs. There isn’t much to do in the village, so it’s up to us to organize our free time in an interesting way,” says Mariam, whose enthusiasm and activism has been nurtured by SMART.

Today, she tells with a smile how SMART took him out of her comfort zone several times, which helped her learn to communicate freely with strangers, ask questions, and make new friends.

“I learned something new in every SMART program, but Mechanics was a turning point in my choice of profession. I never imagined that Ara, our Mechanics instructor, would invite me to participate in the All-Armenian Robotics Olympiad,” says Mariam, adding that, at first, she didn’t fully grasp the scope and difficulty of the work involved.


Mariam says that sooner or later she will return to the village, even if it’s not Marts.


The youth initiative group is testing new board games among their peers.


Mariam is solving joint exam exercises with her algebra teacher as a dynamic duo.


After visiting the “Engineering city” of Bagrevand, Mariam left her English class and started studying physics.


Mariam jokes that Ara Harutyunyan, COAF’s Mechanics program instructor, had put “stumbling blocks” in her path to becoming an English teacher. Ara is sure that Mariam would make a great radio engineer.

The children of the village help a grandmother from the neighborhood to harvest apples.


When other children her age would play with their dolls in the yard, Mariam’s doll, as she says, “was alive and moving.”


One of Mariam’s hobbies is making handmade dolls. The final project of the vocal program will also feature the puppets she made.


Mariam talks with the guests of her podcast SMARTCast about their daily lives at the SMART Center and the issues facing their respective communities.