Nora Marlène Barghoudian
Le Plessis-Robinson, France
It’s one time among many others, but I really felt this time: Armenia is the place of the school of life where I learned about humanity, where friendship is sacred, and where I met other Armenians from the diaspora who are curious about their history, their “Armenianness”, and their identity. Speaking with them made me realize the strong link that we all have with Armenia. It taught me a lot!
Birthright Armenia was the right experience for me: It’s a comprehensive program with excursions, forums, and havaks that provided me the opportunity to learn more about my Armenian culture, to volunteer and take part in community service projects such as planting trees with Armenia Tree Project and many experiences that never crossed my mind to do.
My favorite excursion was the three-day trip in Meghry: we stayed with host families who were just adorable because they wanted us to feel good and they hosted us with open arms (Armenian hospitality). We shared moments that I feel couldn’t have experienced in another country. We gathered in their terrace with more than 15 people, we did rifle shooting, we drank Armenian coffee with some “pechenis” (biscuits in Russian) while laughing and talking. With my BR sisters and my host mother, we cooked “boulki” in the family kitchen the day before. We had family dinners like I never had back home: it was wonderful to feel free to talk with them, beginning from the little girl of the family until our host grandma. And it was so emotional for me to see my BR friends making efforts to speak Armenian with their host family. I admire those people who don’t know Armenian, come to Armenia and do their best to learn this language.
These simple moments worth more than any other thing in the world!
Thanks to this experience, we became a big family! I never felt alone in Armenia. There are always events to attend, activities to do, friends and colleagues to see or to join during a party, local friends to meet, an adorable BR staff to call when you need help or when you want to see them… I’m so glad to be surrounded by such good people in Armenia and thankful for having met these people from all over the world!
Another point that came to mind: I realized, by working in 2 companies that my Armenian, both writing and speaking, was very useful for the responsibilities I took. Even if I knew Armenian before coming to Armenia, I’ve learned a lot of words here! So, I encourage people to learn Armenian, above all if they want to stay in Armenia. Our alphabet is so exceptional and our language so rich! I’m even committing myself to teach Armenian in France (I fell in love for a second time with this language!).
When I talk to Armenians here, they were always asking me “Why Armenia?”, “Why are you in Armenia, whereas you can have much more in France?” and I always showed them my strong Armenian identity, “because I’m Armenian and this is my country”. But now, to the question “почему ты здесь?” (Why are you here?), I would better answer, “моё место здесь и мне нравится здесь жить” (my place is here, and I like living here).
I’m seriously considering staying in Armenia in the near future.
Wherever you are from, however long you stay in Armenia, be sure that this incredible experience will last a lifetime! So, don’t hesitate to take the plunge!