(United States, AYF Summer Internship 2012)
It has been over a month since my experience in Armenia and there is not a single day that I don’t miss it. I constantly look through my pictures, read my journal, and Skype with my new life long friends. Never have I imagined something leaving such a large influence on me! I had been to Armenia twice before, but why did I never feel as attached to the country as I do now? This is why. I lived amongst the locals. I worked with them, interacted with them, and even stayed in their homes. That is truly the best way to get a feel of the country.
One thing that definitely made this trip so unique was going beyond Yerevan. We stayed in villages, did community service, visited schools and much more. And although staying outside Yerevan required some courage and strength, I never complained once. I enjoyed the long hike through the Dilijan forest, even if the thorns were making my legs burn. I enjoyed crawling through a muddy bat cave, even if my clothes were all dirty. I enjoyed living in simple homes in the villages, even if there wasn’t running water. Those small inconveniences mean NOTHING when you’re having the time of your life. Your horizons are widening and your eyes are opening to a whole different lifestyle. And the best part is that you’re not doing it alone.
In the course of two months I saw my friends perspectives change too. In the beginning of our trip, I will admit, people complained about minor things. But as time went on, those small things that people were complaining about, they ended up cherishing. Those interns that were shy and reserved all of a sudden flourished and became more social than I am. Even interns that came just for the sake of doing an internship became curious and interested in the country. One of those interns went to every museum with me, asked me about every Armenian story or legend, and asked me to teach him to read Armenian. I felt proud of being Armenian. I felt proud of our country because I watched it change my life and the lives of others.
I am anticipating the day that I return to Armenia. I dream of it constantly! Even if my next trip is not with the same friends that I made, I will meet new Armenians, hear new stories, and learn more than before. Each experience is unique and you better believe I’m looking for many more of those. See you soon Hayastan ❤