Two months. Two
months filled with joy, laughter, discovery, learning, acquaintance. These two
months that I have spent with Birthright
Armenia have been incredible, like no other experience. I dreamed of coming
and living like a local, working here, walking in the streets hearing Armenian,
taking the marshutka to travel around
the city, and now I can say that I have done that. I used to visit my family
often, at least once a year for one or two weeks, but now that I have been able
to live this experience, I can say that when you come as a tourist you have a
different vision than when you become a local. I learned so much about myself
and even more about Armenia and was able to experience my homeland through a
different lens, which made me love and appreciate it even more.
I Could Never Have Seen Armenia this Way without Birthright
There are so many positive aspects to the program, but it is especially good for learning and discovering, and also meeting new people. Our schedule is so full of incredible opportunities that I didn't have time to realize that I've been living my life as a local for almost two months now, from forums and havaks, to a trip to the four corners of Armenia to learn about Armenian history.
The excursion that I found to be the most fulfilling was the hike from Hovannavank to Sagmosavank, a 7.7km hike under the Armenian sun and nature. I didn't expect to have to climb the gorge that surrounds these two monasteries, and I would never have done it alone as a tourist. On the day of my orientation, Sevan Kabakian urged us to get out of our comfort zones, spend quality time with locals, and be open to meeting new people. It's because of this that I wanted to hike, take the marshutka every day to work, talk to florists, cab drivers, and negotiate prices at the vernissage. All of this allowed me to hear and absorb so much history and perspective on life in Armenia that I would not have had if I had not listened to Sevan's advice.
Not Just a Program, a Big Family!
Birthright Armenia is not just a program that gives you the opportunity to come and work in Armenia and experience the life of a local, but it gives you the opportunity to meet people your age from all over the world. Christina who came from Russia said something that stuck with me and is totally true "you will never really understand what Armenia is until you get to know the Diaspora." Through the program, I was able to meet Armenians from all over the world, hear their stories of how they found themselves outside of Armenia, how they grew up while abroad and how each one cherishes Armenia and is willing to invest in it to make it what it deserves to be with all the potential it has. Everyone is a piece of Armenia, and this is what makes our country strong. We are all so proud to carry this heritage within us.
Much More Than an Internship
After the war that began in September 2020, my feelings regarding my involvement in Armenia changed, and I felt a sense of duty towards all our young soldiers. When I signed up for the program, I asked if it would be possible for me to work on POW cases due to my law degree. Thanks to Birthright's network and the opportunities it offers, Lilit Hovhannisyan found me an internship at Path of Law with Ms. Siranush Sahakyan. My work focused on drafting applications to institutions, translating POW testimonies, and legal research. My internship will soon be over in Armenia, but this does not mean that I will stop working for them, I will continue from Belgium to help as much as possible.
Birthright Armenia staff, thank you for the unforgettable experience in Armenia.
Dear Armenia, this is just a goodbye, see you soon for more adventure.