Shiraz Der Mosessian,
It has been exactly one week since I left my beloved Armenia behind and arrived to Beirut, a place where I was taught to the notion of everlasting adventure of finding a home. I left behind my memories, adventures, experiences and least but not last, a piece of my heart. I know for sure that every Armenian that has visited Armenia, has a piece of them buried somewhere within the rocky mountain chains, that in a surrealistic manner, keep those pieces safe, and whenever these mountains call you, you find yourself on the next plane heading to Armenia to get in touch with a piece of you that has left you hollow mentally and emotionally.
I do not want to be too romantic about Armenia, we all are in love with this country in different ways, in the most sincere and beautiful forms of love and I don’t want to talk about what I was able to offer to this rocky piece of land, but rather I’d like to talk about what Armenia has offered me. If I was to narrow down my entire volunteering experience and what it has taught me into one sentence, I would say Armenia has awakened hope in me.
I have learned endless things in Armenia, and on the plane heading home, I knew that I am not going back as the same person that arrived to Armenia a few months ago, It was a transformational experience that words cannot describe. In short, my perspective to life was completely different than what it was before.
I am sure every volunteer could say the exact same words, perhaps in sentences that are more meaningful and touching. I would like to appreciate every single volunteer that I have encountered during my journey. You are everything that Birthright Armenia is all about. We all come from different parts in the world, with different cultural backgrounds and endless characters and mentalities, and yet we connect immediately, and create friendships that are everlasting, and sometimes we take it into the next step and called each other family. It is here where credits should go to Birthright Armenia, with its spectacular concept and amazing staff that have given us this opportunity, to bring out the best in each and every one of us. Yet, besides everything that Birthright has provided us, for me the most important thing is that it brought out the best in every single volunteer, even though we were not obliged to be on our best behavior, we chose to be. I’ve realized that bringing out the best in people is achievable, when the circumstances are right.
We live in a world where chaos and war have become part of our daily news, we are not surprised to see greed leading to violence anymore, death and suffering do not affect us, and people’s suffering is none of our concern, hence somehow we have lost hope in the wellbeing of humanity, and individualism has become the motto of our lives, until we came to Birthright. We were provided with the best circumstances possible, from heart-warming host families, to challenging job placements, and never ending experiences in the beautiful landscapes of Armenia, and you could see how genuinely happy everyone is. We treated each other with respect, love, care and affection, we were all on our best behavior, willingly to be there for our fellow volunteer no matter how little or a lot of effort did the situation require, we lived in a way of brotherhood and sisterhood. Here is what I personally believe is Birthright Armenia’s biggest achievement, the fact that it has reflected upon us the possibility of living with people from different backgrounds, and on a bigger scale, it has made me believe that under the right circumstances, humanity could live in peace and harmony.