My name is Ani Karibian, and I am from Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from Michigan State University last May, I took the first flight to Yerevan on May 31st, 2016. I was excited, considering it was my first time in three and a half years, coming back to Armenia. On June 1st, I headed straight to the office to determine my fate for the following three months – I headed to Vanadzor with five other people, soon to become my very good friends. I stayed in Vanadzor for three months, and interned at various places such as the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, the Mankadun (orphanage), Pokr Ishkan, and worked with my Birthright peers on community service projects once a week. All in all, it was a quite a lovely time, and the Vanadzor volunteers would head to Yerevan on the weekend to experience the wonders of the weekly Birthright excursions.
The beginning of September brought much change, as I left Vanadzor and moved to Yerevan. In Yerevan, I had the opportunity to intern at several places such as Foundation Against the Violation of Law, The Public Relations Office of the President of the RA, and Luys Foundation. They all provided me with work experience and professional growth opportunities. I was a volunteer until the beginning of May, in which I briefly traveled to Israel, stayed with one of my very close friends I met in Birthright and arrived back to Yerevan to take part in a new chapter of my life. I, fortunately, found work at Ardean, a design company based in Armenia. We are a start-up company creating exquisite products consisting of the modernist twist on traditional Armenian spiritual text and designs. I am involved with the English, Communications, and Marketing aspect of the company. We currently have women’s accessories, home decor, and artwork available for purchase, and are working diligently to quickly expand our market and our horizons. Although life offers no guarantee of the length of my time here in Armenia, I plan to stay here long-term.
My parting words are full of gratitude to Birthright Armenia. The staff of Birthright Armenia created the environment for an amazing, once in a lifetime experience for all of their volunteers, and I am so grateful to have had the experience. All at once we had the opportunity to live in Armenia, integrate ourselves into the culture with host families, understand the work ethic and environment in Armenia, and create life-long friendships with Armenians around the world. Birthright Armenia is truly a remarkable organization, and moving to Armenia through Birthright was the best decision I have ever made.