Two things got me to come to Armenia to volunteer for two months (9 weeks to be exact). First, Birthright Armenia/AVC. Second, some ‘risk taking’. It was NOT a no-brainer for me to come to Armenia. My passions and interests had led me to places and people that did not have much to do with Armenia. So, I left the states with no relatives/ friends/ acquaintances to go to in Armenia and not a clear idea of what my next two months was going to be like. But, in the hidden recess of my mind I guess I had realized that the whole experience could go one of two ways. Either It would mark the beginning of more to come or not. At worst I was going to have to chalk it all up for experience and move on. At the time, it seemed like a risk worth taking. Two months later, coming home having forged long lasting friendships with people from all walks of life makes me think that it was a risk worth taking.
So what happened during those two months that has, in many ways, floored me?
Okay, fine, I’ll elaborate.
Thanks to AVC, I was placed at SunChild and they could not have been a more perfect match for me. Although I helped out with a lot of different projects, I ended up becoming the poster child for their GreenBus project. Basically, throughout most of my stay, I was on a bus that went to three different regions (Tavush, Lori and Syunik), and spent 7 days in each providing environmental education to kids and teens from the surrounding villages and towns. I, along with a couple of SunChild staff members, were responsible for the implementation of every part of the project from finding a place to stay to collaborating with the local municipality. It all sounds pretty fun, exciting and adventurous (all right up my alley) but there were some tough moments too. As they say, what you don’t know can’t hurt you.
Besides work and everything associated with it, there is something that makes me happy in a very subtle way as I look back. So, there is character then there is reputation—who you truly are and what you’re perceived as. Obviously, you want the two to be the same yet that’s not always so. But, throughout my stay in Armenia and the folks that I met there, the two were almost identical. I can’t say why but I just know that in a very short amount of time people saw right through me and for one reason or another that makes me…smile.
And, I still can’t get over the fact that all this would not have been possible if we did not have Birthright Armenia–my sincere appreciations.