Where do I Volunteer?
I work at the Emili Aregak Center. This center provides much-needed therapy and care for people with disabilities and their families - who are unfortunately a part of a very stigmatized demographic in Armenia. I work with the center's Development Officer Sarah - who is also a Birthright alumna. With her, I assist in planning for fundraising (such as finding grant opportunities), social media posts, and developing video and photo content for the Center as well as the Aregak Bakery near Vardanants Square.
My Volunteer Placements in Gyumri
I am making an impact by working with organizations that give back to their community. My impact is helping continue the successful mission of each organization. Emili Aregak provides so much for people with disabilities and their families. The center helps its beneficiaries get much-needed care, transportation and even access to jobs. Nor Luyce, my second volunteer placement, helps adolescent girls prepare for their future by providing many classes and workshops to develop essential social and life skills and the confidence needed to find success. My third site, the Gyumri Technology Center is giving back to the wounded veterans of the second Artsakh war. Each organization has its own niche beneficiary, but they all contribute to creating a better Gyumri and a better Armenia.
Opportunities for Diasporan Armenians in Armenia
I absolutely think diasporan Armenians should come to Armenia. My "why" for applying for Birthright came after my first visit to Armenia in 2019. I knew I had to come back to Armenia after this visit because I felt so comfortable in a place I had never been before. I experienced the origins of my heritage (that highly influenced my upbringing) directly before my eyes. If there is anyone who wants this same feeling, you should come to Armenia. If you want an even heightened experience, you should come to Gyumri. In Gyumri, you can experience the same feeling of being comfortable in a new place, while being surrounded by the nicest locals in an amazingly quaint city. Living in Gyumri is an experience like no other. You develop close relationships with fellow Birthright volunteers and your host family, as well as see the impact your work can have in the community. You get all of this on top of the other benefits of joining Birthright.
Lucas Der Mugrdechian