How I Found Out about Birthright Armenia

Sascha Aref
Chattanooga, TN, USA

For many years, I have heard stories about young people having a “birthright trip” to Israel. The way I understood it, if a person is of Jewish heritage, they are entitled to a birthright trip to their motherland. And I remember always thinking this was so neat, such a wonderful opportunity. And then my thought process would always lead me to thinking about how nice it would be to go to MY own motherland of Armenia.

My exact thoughts were, “Hey, that is not fair there is a Birthright Israel, what about Birthright Armenia!?” So I jokingly googled Birthright Armenia and didn’t really think I would find much. But to my surprise, a sonic happy boom went off in my brain. There it was, Birthright Armenia!!! WOW! Is this for real? Seriously? Why hadn’t I heard of this before? I was astounded to the max. And then studied the web page like a book for several weeks.

I knew that Birthright Israel offers a two week tour of the country which is great. However, I quickly realized that Birthright Armenia is actually an even better experience than that. With Birthright Armenia you can live in the country for up to a year and really experience a deep understanding of the people and culture. I grew with excitement. It was about four years later that I went to Armenia and volunteered with the program. My thrill led me to thinking I have this amazing chance to live in Armenia, and I have got to choose the perfect time to go and stay as long as I can. I finally decided to make my Birthright Armenia trip happen during my graduate program. I lived in Armenia and volunteered at World Vision for five months. I was also lucky enough to coordinate the volunteering at World Vision with my graduate course work. I’m forever thankful for the experience and it all happened because of a joke. It is funny how things work out.