I’m sitting in front of my computer thinking about my three months trip in Armenia and I don’t know where to start from. I was searching for all the countless elements that my memory has beheld these past few months and concluded that it is difficult for someone to summarize their experience in a page or two when that person has a lot to depict and discuss about. I believe this is a good way to refresh one’s memory about such an eventful and active voyage to a cherished place where lie unforgettable memorable faces. Yes! I did cry on several occasions when I got caught up in a box of wistfulness!
I will be repeating myself by affirming that my life has reformed in a positive fashion ever since I did Birthright Armenia. My world is now riveted into something that I used to disregard for which now I have full admiration. Birthright Armenia offered me the chance to discover Armenia for the first time. Furthermore, this adventure handed me the occasion to learn more about myself through the various endeavors that I confronted. Partaking to every single challenge was sometimes very hard to achieve; nevertheless, I don’t regret participating in them.
My experience would surely not have been the same without the support of other volunteers, without the generosity and amity of the staff members working committedly at the Birthright Armenia office, I’m sure that they will recognise themselves. They were the reason why I remained enthusiastically motivated about this project and succeeded to undertake it right until its cessation. In consequence, they were indispensable escorts for my first time experience in Armenia, especially in the city of Gyumri. Nowadays, every little trait in my life points me to a Birthright Armenia memory and reminds me of the amazingness of the people that I encountered.
I mentioned the lovely city of Gyumri to which people look at in a confounded way. Let me give you a brief background history of Gyumri before moving on to more emotional things.
Gyumri is the second largest city in Armenia located in the Shirak province where the situation has slightly changed over the past 24 years after the earthquake incident. The name of the city has changed over time on many occasions; from Kumayri to Gyumri to Alexandropol (which also happens to be the name of a well-known and probably the best beer in Gyumri) to Leninakan and finally Gyumri once again. To this day, Gyumri is seen as one of the most devastated cities in Armenia. When you first visit Gyumri, you feel like the city is crumbled into ashes traced back from the earthquake and the Soviet times. You feel like the people have also despaired from life and everything that accompanies it. I don’t want to drive you into pessimism, because I myself despise it so much. On the contrary, I want to portray the real features that define the city and its people.
Ironically, I fell in love with Gyumri. Why? As one of our Birthright Armenia volunteers used to state: ‘Gyumri is not a depressed city, Gyumri has character!’ When I remember those words, I understand why I fell in love with Gyumri, my host-family and even local friends…because of their uniqueness and their magnetic appeal. Gyumri will swipe you off your feet!!! I remember walking around in old Gyumri thinking of how romantic the streets were. I recommend you to volunteer in Gyumri, because it has potentiality to develop and progress in time. I recommend you to volunteer in Gyumri to bring a flare of positivity to the city. Be careful not to fall deeply in love with it!
Finally, you don’t need to come prepared to Armenia. All you need is self-motivation, body and soul!