I was born in Moscow but moved to the UK with my family when I was 15 years old, and for the past five years, I have been living and studying in Wales. My parents are both from Yerevan and we have a lot of relatives living in Armenia, so we usually visit Armenia every summer, but only for a few weeks at a time. This is my first time staying in Armenia for more than a month and it is quite exciting. I’ve never even seen autumn in Armenia!
Volunteer in Armenia with Birthright Armenia
I applied to become a volunteer with Birthright Armenia right after finishing my masters in Architecture in Cardiff, looking for a little change in perspective, a break in the routine, and for new connections. Information about Birthright Armenia travels fast through word of mouth, and that works better than any social media marketing could! I heard about the program from my cousin who completed it last year and was so impressed that it was all she would talk about for a long time. After all that, how could I not want to join?
I chose to volunteer in Yerevan and moved to Gyumri. In Yerevan, I volunteered primarily at an architectural studio, where I was working on the conceptual stages of a project located in Vanadzor. I also did some work to help with the interior design of a new showroom for a company in Dilijan. In Gyumri, I will be working on the design of a new guest house, as well as doing some 2D and 2D animation work, renovation projects, and possibly illustration and graphic design. All in all, the volunteering experience I have acquired through Birthright Armenia is very diverse and helps me use the entirety of my skill set. More importantly, I can see the direct results of the work that I am doing, and I can truly feel like I am part of the community that is dedicated to making progress toward improving and developing my home country. I found a strong sense of purpose here.
Volunteering in Gyumri
I decided to continue volunteering in Gyumri because, first of all, I wanted more insight into a different side of Armenia than what I am used to. Yerevan is a familiar city to me, and this year I am trying to see what it is like living in a few different places. Secondly, I have always loved smaller cities. I love close-knit communities, more relaxed environments, and I am looking forward to having some time to stand back and reflect on my experience. It is going to be a very nice change of pace after Yerevan.
To those who are thinking of applying to Birthright Armenia, DO IT! With so much to do here, months will pass by like days! It will be over before you know it, so stay for as long as you can. Pick more than one place to stay, and more than one volunteer placement site if it is possible so you can have a more well-rounded experience here and see all kinds of different sides of Armenia. And most importantly, have fun! Make the most of your time here, you only do Birthright Armenia once.