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David Shorvoglyan
Russia 2023 participant
10 Jan, 2024

After 20 years to the homeland: A journey to the land of the ancestors together

5 min read

My name is David Shorvoglian, I am 24 years old, and I come from the capital of Uzbekistan, the city of Tashkent, which is very similar to Yerevan with its boundless hospitality, rich and kind soul of people, and beautiful mountainous landscapes. I began my volunteer experience with Birthright Armenia in July 2023 and will stay there until mid-September. I decided to get to know Armenia better by visiting it and also to help my homeland by applying my skills as an IT specialist. I also wanted to enrich my Armenian culture and my horizons by socializing with other volunteers, attending cultural, sports and educational events. My volunteer activities took place in the capital of all Armenians, Yerevan, which I have come to love with all my heart. The last time I was in Yerevan with my family was 20 years ago, when I was 3 years old, where I was baptized in Grigor Lusavorich Church. I still remember many things from that time, because it was then that my encounter with God took place. In January 2023, I set a goal to visit my ancestral homeland Armenia again.


THE WAY TO ARMENIA THROUGH ARMENIAN ARMAT SCHOOL


My journey to Armenia started with Armat Armenian School, where I studied my native Armenian language. The school is located in the city of Krasnodar, where I currently reside, where every student can make new friends, learn Armenian, get acquainted with the Armenian culture, its centuries-old and rich history. It was at Armat School that I was introduced to Birthright Armenia. After several months of deliberation, I decided to go to my homeland and the homeland of my ancestors, Armenia.


BIRTHRIGHT ARMENIA: OPPORTUNITY FOR PERSONAL GROWTH AND NEW DISCOVERIES IN ARMENIA


I started my volunteer work with Birthright Armenia on July 5, 2023, and will continue until mid-September. Thanks to Birthright Armenia, I started an independent life away from my family. But I was not alone in Armenia, I always had the staff of the organization with me, who helped me on any issue. Independent life in Armenia made me look at myself and the world around me in a new way, discover new features in me, and I am grateful for this experience. I have always felt at home in the Birthright office. I made many friends from different parts of the world who were just like me, eager to get to know Armenia as best as possible. It was a great opportunity to improve my Armenian and English language level by communicating with volunteers from different countries.


MY JOBS AT BIRTHRIGHT ARMENIA


I worked in a company called Creative Educational Technologies LEGO Lab Education. LEGO Education in Armenia functions as a store of various Lego sets and as a science center. They teach children programming, designing, teamwork, help to develop logical and analytical thinking with the help of different LEGO sets. I was a volunteer trainer for 9 weeks, and at the end of my program, I became a certified trainer and co-author of new courses for group activities with children.

I enjoyed working and being on a team of professionals who know their craft. While volunteering in Yerevan, I quickly made friends with the team and together we went through a lot of things and achieved a lot in 9 weeks. Together we held a workshop in Yeraz Park, organized a meeting in honor of the arrival of LEGO representative from Norway, prepared as a team for the World Robotics Olympiad, which was held at AYB school in Yerevan. In addition to developing my professional skills, I discovered my talent as a video blogger. My team and I filmed various informative videos. I enjoyed teaching scenarios and introducing LEGO Education to the world in Armenia, I will continue to scale and develop this talent discovered in me.

I also worked for the Armenian Volunteer Corps, which is an opportunity for non-Armenians to come to Armenia to do short-term or long-term volunteer service. At AVC, I volunteered for 4 weeks in the position of Web Analyst. During my time there, I performed UX/UI analytics on various websites. While working in this position, I also expanded my range of applied skills and made new acquaintances.


HOST FAMILY


In my host family, I experienced the very Armenian hospitality I was surrounded by throughout my stay in Yerevan. I am glad that now I understand what an Armenian family should be like, with its customs, traditions, cuisine, and even the interior of an Armenian apartment has its distinctive feature of homeliness, which did not leave me indifferent. Through my family I have learned all the charm of Armenian cuisine, I will miss Aunt Armine's delicious food that she fed me every day, her care, and the kindness of her soul. Every member of the family was always kind to me, we always had something to talk about or just watch TV together.


PARTICIPATION IN THE 8TH PAN-ARMENIAN SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES


I took part with a team from Krasnodar in the 8th Pan-Armenian Summer Olympic Games, where I participated in badminton and mini-golf competitions. The period of the Olympic Games in Armenia will always remain in my memory as something new and unique, and an exciting experience in my life. All our Krasnodar team was at the opening of the games at the Shirak Stadium in Gyumri, which also impressed me a lot with its unique architecture and climate. The closing ceremony of the games was held on the territory of the temple of Garni, where I was also there for the last time 20 years ago. At that time, I never thought that 20 years later I would visit the Garni Temple, closing the 8th Pan-Armenian Olympic Games.


A LIFELONG CONNECTION WITH ARMENIA


I am now reflecting on my next visit to Yerevan. It is hard to say now when it might happen, but I plan to establish further cooperation with Armenia in the future. I believe that my summer 9-week trip to Yerevan 20 years later will not be my last. Yerevan has great potential to become a technological IT hub. I would like to help create new Digital Digital solutions for Armenia by bringing my experience and creative vision.

I am seriously considering future business trips or just visiting Armenia for a short period of time. And yes, I never had a chance to try the donuts at Ponchik-Monchik in Gyumri, where the opening ceremony of the 8th Pan-Armenian Summer Olympic Games was held at the Shirak Stadium.

Armenia is my homeland, a country that has given me so much in 9 weeks, warmed me with its love and care, and reminded me who I am. Thank you Birthright Armenia for this experience! I would like to conclude this fascinating essay about my experience in Armenia with these lines:

As a child, my mother always told me, "When going for a walk, don't run far away from home"

I don't say goodbye to Armenia. See you soon.

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