Galesburg, Illinois, USA
Although my time in Armenia was short- just three months, it was very meaningful and important timing to be here. I left a week ago, and the experiences with Birthright Armenia were such an adventure while discovering my roots. The memories of my first excursion with Birthright Armenia will stick with me. I was amazed by the view of the landscape, and being so high on mountains when visiting Khor Virap and Noravank. Making that connection not only with the grounds of my motherland but to connect with other volunteers during this experience made it worthwhile.
It was an import time to be in Armenia during my three months. I was able to witness the growing protests of people for the Velvet Revolution; the decline of Serzh Sargsyan, the rise of Nikol Pashinyan, and the people coming together peacefully for a change in the government. I was able to see one of my idols, Serj Tankian, come to Republic Square to speak about supporting the peaceful protests the day before Nikol Pashinyan became the new Prime Minister. I’m thankful for being in Armenia during such a significant historical event. This experience made this feel it is possible to make a change and be able to do it peacefully for success.
The volunteer job sites were helpful for me to gain experience in my field, but also to help the Armenian communities. While I was in Gyumri, I helped Gyumri Tours where I created a tourism video and took photos around Gyumri, which gave me more opportunity to explore the city’s history and culture. When I was in Yerevan, I helped Armenia Tree Project (ATP) and Girls Of Armenia Leadership Soccer (GOALS). I helped ATP edit videos and took photos during educational and tree planting events. I learned more about Armenia’s ecosystem and to be proactive in Armenia for planting in different regions. GOALS was a fun organization to take videos of their events and encourage the youth to become active and to push forward to breaking the gender norms. I am very thankful for the opportunities and experiences to be engaged in helping the communities, and to show that Armenia is great and it’s rewarding to be involved in these organizations. I will stay connected with them in future endeavors.
When I arrived back home a week ago, and I’ve realized who I was when I first came to Armenia, and who I was when leaving Armenia, I’ve transformed and grown in ways I didn’t think was possible. Words cannot explain some changes; however, my perspective on life is much different than it was before. The experiences in Armenia have expanded my mind not only to the language, but also to the history, culture, and environment. I believe Birthright Armenia’s slogan is “Journey of self-discovery” and that rings true to me as I have discovered more about myself in another country, and how worldly the mind is when outside of your element. Sometimes is it needed to find more of what you can accomplish and become? I’m glad to have met these people along the way, and I’m thankful for the Birthright Armenia program for reconnecting my roots and getting to know more about my motherland.