Where were you born? And where do you currently live?
I was born in the United States in Los Angeles and currently live in Yerevan, Armenia.
When you were a volunteer, how old were you, where did you volunteer and for how long?
I volunteered in Yerevan from April 2010 – August 2010 when I was 25 years old. At the time I volunteered for TUMO and The Research on Armenian Architecture Foundation.
What did you do after you finished your volunteer service?
After I finished my volunteer services I went back to Los Angeles to start graduate school. In the fall of 2010 I started my Master’s program at The University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. I earned a dual Master’s in Public Administration and Urban Planning with a concentration in economic development. I spent three years in graduate school, but came back to Armenia every summer during that time to work on projects that were tied with my University and my studies.
What are you currently doing?
Currently I am living in Armenia, working with Gyumri Project Hope (GPH). GPH is a non-profit urban planning foundation focused on the improvement of Gyumri focused on different sectors. We are working with our partners Vahan Kololian, AGBU, ARS and IDeA foundation conducting a feasibility study in order to identify potential economic development projects that can have the greatest benefit in the development of Gyumri. Previous to this position I was at Tim Flynn Architects hired as a consultant to work on the Dilijan Master Plan.
How has Birthright Armenia’s experience played a role in your life, and when choosing your life’s path?
Before I did Birthright, I had visited Armenia only once when I was 17 years old with my senior class at Alex Pilibos Armenian School. After that experience I always wanted to return to Armenia but didn’t know for what purpose or what I could do here. Birthright Armenia served as an amazing platform to help someone like me come back to Armenia. Since my volunteer experience, my life changed in that, being in Armenia was no longer a foreign or out of the norm concept. Through this experience I became very aware and familiar of what I could do in Armenia and what steps I could take to make sure that Armenia was always a part of my life, regardless if I chose to live here full time or not.
Have you been to Armenia since your volunteer experience? What year and for what purpose(s)?
After my volunteer experience, I’ve been back to Armenia every year at least once for various projects and short term consulting jobs. This year is the first time I’m back and planning to stay throughout the year
What is the biggest change you’ve had in your life since you were a volunteer?
The biggest change I experienced since I was a volunteer was my awakened interest in international development. The experience also made me more fearless in pursuing these goals and made me much more aware of all the opportunities that are around the world and not just in Los Angeles.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I haven’t thought much of exactly where I will be, but I know that I always want to make sure that Armenia stays a part of my life. I would ultimately love to raise a family here and continue developing part of my career here.
Additional thoughts you might want to share with the readers:
Everyone should spend an extended period of time in Armenia at some point in their lives, even if they don’t see themselves being here forever. It will definitely change your perspective about what it really means to be Armenian as well as how you view the world.