Continuing to Give Back to the Homeland

Ani Grigorian
(Racine, WI, USA)

Since my initial day stepping foot in Armenia, I felt that instant connection. Although I could not speak the language, my bags were lost and I had no idea where I lived, there was still something comfortable about the area. I had come previously in 2003 and 2008, but I knew that this time being a Birthright Armenia participant and on my own was going to be a different experience and new chapter in my life.

Growing up in the Armenian community of Racine, WI, service and missionary work became like second nature to me, and I felt that coming to Armenia to give my time and talents was the next step.  A significant part of my want to return to Armenia had to do with my first trip here with my grandparents and the cultural immersion and experience I had. Since that trip and experiencing my grandfather’s desire to give back to his homeland and community, I was inspired me to do the same as well.

For me, my time here has not only been about giving back to my community, but also growing within myself as an Armenian. In my initial three months as a Birthright Armenia participant volunteering with the Armenian Volunteer Corps I knew that there was something about this country that did not allow me to let go quite yet. I cannot explain it in words, except that in my heart of hearts I knew that I wanted to extend my stay.

So now around the halfway mark of my old departure date and new one, I looked forward to the additional three months here in Armenia and immersing myself even more than I had initial intended.  I am sure that the time will come just as quickly as it had before; but until then I intend to spend my time absorbing all that I can and not taking a moment of my time here for granted.

Anyone contemplating coming to Armenia, either for volunteering or visiting, I encourage you to just do it and not think twice; because I promise it will be an unforgettable chapter of your life, unlike any one you could have written for yourself.

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