Allow me to be frank. Coming to Hayasdan was one of the best decisions I have ever made. From the moment I stepped into the country, I was no longer lost in a sea of Irish, Italians, and blacks. I was amongst my own people, and I truly felt I belonged. I’ve always had great friends of all nationalities, but my strong Armenian identity is something that none of them could completely grasp, no matter how worldly they are.
In Yerevan, I lay awake in my comfy bed each and every night in a dreamland, recounting in my head the events of my day. When my wonderful host sister and host mother asked me if I have any grandparents, I told them I have one grandmother left, whom I absolutely adore. I quickly began to tear up as I told them how much I miss my grandparents, and wish they were still alive. I know they’re watching from above as my new-found friends and I eagerly navigate through the streets of Yerevan. As I walk down the street, I see grandfathers and grandmothers walk their tourniks home from school, briefly stopping at each corner to greet the men and women they’ve probably known for their entire lives. It makes me smile. This is a place unlike any other. Continue reading →
As I walked through London Heathrow Airport to catch my connecting flight from Yerevan to Chicago, I couldn’t help but think of how drastically different this experience of leaving Armenia was to entering Armenia. I thought back to four months before when I took a taxi on my own to the Prague airport, had a traumatizing and lonely airport experience and finally boarded a plane at 11p.m. I sat down amidst the largest group of Armenians I’d ever been exposed to in my life. I began asking people around me if they were Armenian, a silly question I know—considering the flight I was on, but it was an instinct I’d had my whole life as I sought out connections to the people with whom I shared my identity. On that flight, had I not been subdued down into my seat by those brutally-honest, no-BS Armenian glares, I probably would have sought out Armenians who shared my understanding of Armenian history: genocide, diaspora, tragedy, Anatolia, etc. When I arrived in Armenia I desperately clung to a conversation with a diasporan from L.A. and hung onto every last word of English I could get until I found myself languageless and alone at the Yerevan terminal.
The flight home couldn’t have been more different. I arrived at Zvarnots with a host of Armenian mothers who’d adopted me during my time in Armenia. Continue reading →
There are things in life that take sneak up on you, things that kick down the door with guns blazing and things that happen so slowly, so subtly, that you don’t even notice it until after the fact. Kind of like how your foot falls asleep. My experience in Armenia has been like my foot falling asleep.
I came to Yerevan at the end of December 2009. My intent was just to visit my grandparents for Christmas, I’d never been to Armenia in the winter and I’d been told that they were brutal and very cold (coming from Canada, when someone mentions “cold”, you expect no more than -15). Fresh out of college, travelling alone for the first time, I was nothing short of eager to go!
My uncle and cousin picked me up at the airport in the early AM’s. On the way home, I noticed how the stars were bright and the light of the low moon was accentuated by the lack of light pollution in the city.
While in Armenia, I met a woman who worked at the art and history museum at Republic Square. We started talking, and through the course of our conversation I told her that I was an animator. Continue reading →
No es un simple viaje. Hoy, más que nunca estoy segura de que esta experiencia en Armenia marco un antes y un después en mi vida…
Llegue a “Zvardnots”, hace dos meses, con la incertidumbre de lo que pasaría en estas tierras. Dejé atrás mis prejuicios, dejé a un lado la experiencia de otras personas, dejé atrás sus consejos y recomendaciones; sólo traje un papel en blanco y empecé a escribir…
¡Anote tantas cosas! Y estoy segura que hasta que no ponga un pie en el avión de regreso escribiré más aún. En Armenia, todo el tiempo se aprende algo, a cada instante conoces una particularidad, te acercas a personas diferentes de las que estás acostumbrado. En cada momento, mi lapicera ágilmente se ocupó de grabar cada experiencia, no descansó jamás…
Mis trabajos me demostraron que, realmente, puedo hacer muchas cosas útiles para Armenia. Me ayudaron a darme cuenta de algunos talentos y de cosas productivas que, en verdad, puedo hacer. Mis sitios de trabajo fueron los lugares en los cuales más fácilmente he podido aprehender las características de la sociedad armenia actual, sus problemas, sus intereses, sus estilos de vida, sus costumbres. Continue reading →
(Clifton Park, NY, United States)
Well, where do I begin? My junior year in college was when I decided that I wanted to go to Armenia. I didn’t know what I was going to do when I got there, who I was going to meet or what I was going to learn. I had no idea how I was going to live in a country when I didn’t speak the native tongue, and I was not familiar with the customs; all I knew was that I needed, for myself, to go to the place where my ancestors were from.
While browsing the internet to help me with ideas for my trip, I found Birthright Armenia. Birthright Armenia encouraged me not only to come to Armenia to see it, but also to understand it and play a part in its growth. In October, 2010, the fall after I graduated from college, I traveled to Armenia to volunteer at the Women’s Resource Center, an organization that Birthright Armenia helped me find after discovering my interests. At the Center I helped organize a protest against domestic violence, helped teach English classes, spoke with women about their dreams and aspirations, helped construct the Center’s website, and more. Continue reading →