(Canada, AVC ‘12)
The reason I took months to start writing my first blog was because I simply didn’t know where to begin; I’m completely lost for words and at the same time I feel like I’m going to burst because I have so much to say, so many stories to share; it’s a strange feeling. My experiences were brilliant, unique and unforgettable (These words are such understatements). I’ll simply say that those 18 weeks in Armenia were the best times of my life. I took some 22,000 photos and over 500 videos, which I go through partially everyday, so I could re-live my time in Armenia and be able to bare the distance until I can return again soon.
Having said that…I still don’t know where to begin.
11 April , 2012…
I was very excited to be coming back to my fatherland for the second time; I remember sitting in the plane thinking about Gayane and Avetis (Avo), my homestay mother and brother to be. I was thinking about how it would be to live with total strangers for months. What if we don’t get along? May be I should have gotten my own place? Then I started thinking about my work placement. I got so excited; I couldn’t wait to see what they had in store for me. I was assigned by Jenya at the AVC office to work with Professor Artak Hambarian, the dean of the Engineering Department at the American University of Armenia (AUA). I started thinking about the different type of projects that they might have for me and what kind of work I would be doing during the four and half months. My mind started to wonder away; I started day dreaming about all the adventures that I’m going to have with my friends, Saro and Tigran whom I had missed so much. I thought of visiting Artsakh for the first time and my heart immediately started to pound; little did I know, I would be visiting Artsakh twice during my 18 week stay in Armenia. I thought of how it would be and painted a picture in my mind, when suddenly I felt my chest being pushed back into my seat and short moments later the plane was off the ground. Half way through the trip I was overwhelmed with strange feelings. At first I was excited about landing in hayrenik, but my excitement slowly dissipated. It felt like I wasn’t going away to Armenia, it felt like I was returning home from a faraway place. I was puzzled. That wasn’t how I felt the first time I travelled to Armenia. What had happened? Where has all the excitement gone? I didn’t find the answer to that question until I actually arrived in Armenia. Still no excitement, I was “just happy to be home” is what I responded to the question “how do you feel?” from my childhood friend of 19 years, Saro, who was picking me up from the airport. I didn’t know at the time why, but I never have a higher sense of belonging than when I am in Armenia. I don’t feel that way about any other place, not even for the country in which I was born and raised, nor the place I currently live in, which I’ve been residing in more than half my life.
Ten hours after I landed, I had to wake up by no choice of my own. It was 5:00AM and I was heading to a military base with my friend Saro. I promised him that I would take photographs and videos of him parachuting out of a helicopter. We got to the base at 7:00AM. It was a bit chilly and rainy, so I had my winter jacket on. We stepped out of the car and the first thing I saw was mount Ara staring back at me. It was rather wide and had several peaks, I closed my eyes and I took a deep breath. The fresh smell of thyme (uorts) filled my lungs; that was my first nostalgic moment in Armenia since 2008.
Later that afternoon, Continue reading