Saco, ME, USA
Saco, ME, USA
"You're going to a country where you don't know anyone and you don't speak the language? You're ridiculous!" was a phrase I often heard before coming to Armenia. As an Armenian who grew up without a strong Diaspora community, it was important for me to learn more about my roots. My expectations for Birthright Armenia were pretty open at the start of the trip, but I certainly did not expect that one of my new best friends within the program, thousands of miles from my hometown in Maine, would be from the city next to mine in Maine, USA.
In Maine, it is rare to find another Armenian, let alone one that is around the same age as me. But I found a fellow Mainer, Max Zakian, in Gyumri of all places!
Through the course of our nine weeks in Armenia, Max and I have had many adventures (as well as our fair share of misadventures). We have braved an eventful train ride from Yerevan to Gyumri, where we were stopped for a few hours in the sweltering heat while another train had to be taken off of the tracks. We have also camped at Arpi Lake with some of our friends from Gyumri, making our own khorovats and watching meteor showers. We have also spent many nights laughing and venturing around Gyumri, with some particular favorites being LOFT, Trezzo, and Cafe Nancy.
While our time in Armenia is quickly coming to an end, I know that we will be friends for a long time. For one, I know that I will definitely see Max this week - I'm taking some of his luggage back! For another, I am excited because we have both expressed an interest in starting a club for young Armenians in Northern New England. And we are thinking of having ponchik-making parties around the holidays. Birthright Armenia has certainly done many great things for me, but the friendship I've developed with Max is certainly one of the most memorable.