Daniel Daron Sinanian,
Glendale, CA, United States
"Lost time is never found,” a very famous quote said by Benjamin Franklin. Everything about this quote is 100% correct. As I was a kid, I always wanted to visit Armenia. My grandfather constantly kept on reminding me to apply to Birthright as soon as turn 21 years old. Years had past and I passed the 21. I kept telling myself that I should have applied when I was 21 but I think to wait until I turned 24 years old was the best decision I had ever made. Birthright Armenia is a life-changing place and experience. You meet so many incredible people throughout this journey. This experience has by far been better than running my first half marathon when I was only 12 years old.
As my two-month journey started, extending my stay was not in my book, but that is exactly what ended up happening. My two-month stay suddenly became a full three-month stay. The first day I was there was a cultural shock, ironically, which had lasted about a week or so. I wasn’t used to this type of environment, especially because I come from Los Angeles. What really changed me was the first excursion in Artsakh. Visiting Artsakh was filled with life-changing experiences. The lifestyle had changed my perspective of people in general. We, in Los Angeles, have everything and yet we still find something small to complain about. People in Armenia are all happy, warm-hearted and humble, all the time. These are my people, we call them family. This place taught me a lot about patience and ambition. Armenia taught me that we have to be happy with what we have because most people have nothing and they’re still happy and doing the best they can to enjoy life. Even with the struggles, people face in Artshak, I still managed to see a smile on the face of a villager.
What I found to be most interesting is the generosity of the people of Artsakh.
Neighbors from all around the village would invite us in for wine or dinner. “Whatever the time, wherever the place, so long as you are Armenian, you’re part of the family” Was what I was told by one of the neighbors. After being told that, I felt happier to be an Armenian. We Armenians always stick together, we are all one.
Throughout my volunteering experience, I stayed in Yerevan, working at the Helsinki Human Rights Association and Orran for three months. Working in Armenia taught me a lot about the lifestyle and how difficult it can be. Living in Yerevan has impacted my life and that is one thing I’m never going to forget.
Yerevan is a city full of many surprises and it’s where many people meet. That’s exactly what happened. I never expected to get close to so many people from all over the world. It’s definitely going to hurt knowing that all the people I got close to will still be in Armenia while I’m back in Los Angeles. But I will for sure be back.
One of the things I was always looking forward to were the excursions. Going to excursions made us close. It helped us connect with one another and made sure no one ever gets left behind. Going to Meghri was inspiring, even though we were there for only a very short period of time.
While in Meghri, a family invited us in with open arms. They literally left their house to buy food from the local market just to eat with us. As soon as they got home they started serving us a full five-course meal minus the kabob. The more excursions I was going to, the closer I was getting with the volunteers.
I spent my first Christmas and New Years Day without my family. I spent it with my temporary
family that will be in my heart forever. The fact that it started to snow on New Year's Day made me feel even happier.
I ended my trip by getting to witness my friend get engaged, right here in Armenia. What a wonderful ending.
Living in Armenia taught me about value and self-honors. It most importantly taught me about keeping your Armenian culture alive and never forgetting who you are and why we are alive.
I can’t thank my family back home and the birthright family in Armenia for allowing me to be part of this amazing organization. I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done. Thanks to Birthright, I discovered a lot about myself and others around me. Everything you do in life is all meant to be done for a reason, a purpose, and a sacrifice. Giving up a couple months of your life is something many people won’t be willing to do. I’m glad I did it and served my country right.
Thank you Birthright.
This has been a wonderful experience. I will see you very soon. :)