Retrouvant la Patrie

Le voilà ! Si clairement visible de loin. Si connu et en même temps si insolite. Si grandiose et indescriptiblement beau. Comme si une image de rêves apparaît devant les yeux et devient une réalité.

harut

Ararat ! La première chose, que j’ai vue depuis le hublot de l’avion, en arrivant un vendredi soir à l’aéroport Zvartnots à Erevan. Puis, à travers la baie vitrée du terminal, j’ai pu plus en détail examiner toute la beauté de notre montagne biblique et jouir de son aspect impressionnant.

La prise de connaissance surprenante avec l’Arménie anticipait un séjour aussi remarquable pendant trois mois estivaux dans la patrie de mes ancêtres. Maintenant, à l’expiration de ce temps, je peux dire avec certitude que les émotions et les impressions ressenties pendent cet été, ont surpassé toutes mes attentes. À partir du tout premier jour – la rencontre avec la famille d’accueil, qui m’a accepté, sans exagération, comme son membre et en finissant par la conversation déjà en langue arménienne, avec le chauffeur de taxi, me déposant le dernier jour à l’aéroport, j’étais envahi par un sentiment interne que je suis chez moi. Et c’est étonnant, puisque ce sentiment je ne l’ai jamais ressenti dans aucun pays où j’ai vécu, mais seulement ici, en Arménie, où je me suis trouvé pour la première fois. Un sentiment énorme !

Je sais que sans Birthright Armenia ces émotions seraient incomplètes. Elles auraient été tout à fait différentes car, en effet, cette organisation offre le format idéal pour la perception du pays et de sa vie. A travers les excursions remarquables dans toute l’Arménie et l’Artsakh, les forums avec les représentants de diverses organisations engagées dans le développement du pays, mais aussi la possibilité de rencontrer un grand nombre de personnes différentes, des bénévoles, des Arméniens de toute la diaspora et des personnalités simplement intéressantes. Ainsi, ВА crée l’atmosphère spéciale, la perception vive et émotionnelle de la vie arménienne. Par ailleurs, ВА donne la possibilité de ressentir l’Arménie réelle, en premier lieu par le biais du volontariat, à travers la communication avec ses habitants, la compréhension des problèmes et les complexités de sa société.

Birthright Armenia c’est nous tous : les participants du programme, nos familles d’accueil, les professeurs d’arménien, les guides des excursions, tous qui sont liés à notre séjour ici, dans la patrie. Mais dans son cœur – un petit collectif de personnes sensibilisées et énergiques, aimant leur pays et croyant à son avenir radieux. Moi-même, j’en ai foi et donc je reviendrai absolument pour participer à la construction de cet avenir.

Ayant quitté l’Arménie, rentré dans ma ville, en me rappelant les moments magnifiques passés dans ma patrie, en regardant les photos et en pensant à nouveau à toutes ces personnes que j’ai rencontré: les collègues de travail, les bénévoles de tous les coins du Monde, tous les représentants et les participants du programme, la famille, avec laquelle on s’est vu pour la première fois et même les nouveaux vrais amis, je commence à me rendre compte que ces trois mois étaient, peut-être, la période la plus heureuse dans ma vie. Période de recouvrement de la patrie.

Invest | Harvest | Digest

Originally posted on kohar minassian:
Yesterday, the Birthright Armenia excursion took me to the ArmAs Winery in the Aragatson Province of Armenia, about an hour away from Yerevan. It was really a relief to be out on the land with…

Why Birthright Armenia?

Ani Nina Oganyan
Los Angeles, USA

994400_10151962604397025_1705602273_nIt has been about a month now that I have been back “home” in America. I arrived in Armenia early August to participate in a volunteer program I had read about online; something I casually stumbled upon as I was researching for a paper. Never would I have imagined that this program would leave such an overwhelming feeling deep in my heart. And never have I been asked the question “why”, so many times by so many people in my life. Why volunteer? Why Armenia? Why Birthright Armenia?

Sometimes these questions are the hardest to answer. No, wait, these questions are always the hardest to answer. The best, and my personal favorite answer, is “why not”, but some expect a better response. For as long as I could remember I have always been a volunteer. I remember volunteering to help my mom around the house and my teachers after school. At the age of ten, I began volunteering at a local animal shelter, and during the holidays I volunteered with local food and toy drives; the list goes on. Every volunteer has their list of reasons for why they choose to volunteer, but one of the reasons many will have in common is that volunteerism is a way of committing social change. Change starts within us, each and every one of us. I believe that in order for us to really see any sort of social change, we need to be the driving force behind it. Throughout the years, I have come to realize that volunteering is not only a form of giving/charity, but rather an exchange. This exchange, though it may sound selfish, keeps me sane and fulfilled. This exchange for me is where I offer my abilities and service in exchange for a challenge. This may sound like the smallest of exchanges, but for me this challenge changes me everyday, this challenge is what makes me, me.

My family moved to the United States when I was just shy of two years old. At the time, Armenia was going through some of its darker days, so my family decided it was best to go away for some time, but little did they know that “some time” would turn into more than two decades. The word diaspora refers to a scattered population with a common origin in a smaller geographic area, according to Wikipedia. As a diaspora Armenian, scattered is exactly how I feel, day to day. There is an intangible presence that I always feel lurking by, that only begins to fade when I am in the presence of a certain people, culture, mountains, food, soil, and this small collection of land called Armenia. It is an unexplainable connection that I have within me; a connection I have heard many others refer to, and for them, it is also sometimes unexplainable. Sometimes it is simpler to just say, “It is THE homeland.”

About a year ago, I began to research for a paper I was writing. Several webpages and blogs later, I was reading an article published by the Women’s Resource Center of Armenia. First, I was excited to learn of such an organization and then I was intrigued by the topic that it covered. Soon after I clicked a link that took me to the Birthright Armenia list of internships page. As I delved deeper, I learned of an internship opportunity with WRCA through the Birthright Armenia program. I completed the online application within the next few weeks and before I knew it, I was in the Birthright office on orientation day. This program is true to all that it states and more. I learned to read and write in Armenian, which my grandfather was beyond excited to hear about, I met and worked with amazing individuals, have made life long friends who in their own ways inspire me, and embarked on weekly excursions that kept us on our toes. Literally, I, a girl who has worn sneakers a hand full of times, was repelling off of a cliff! During orientation, I was told that the office staff would be there for us, but I assumed it was just a common thing that is said in such programs, but to my surprise, this was a fact. The office staff became family and, with newer volunteers, our family grew weekly and when it came time to leave, as sad as it was, it was never a goodbye, always a see you later. I won’t cover all that the Birthright Armenia program offers, because the information is there for when you fill out your application, however from time to time I think of the phrase “the opportunities are endless,” and for me, it took this experience to really bring this phrase to life. When looking for home, a challenge, or an opportunity, I look to my birthright.


Часть моей души

Анаит Оганесян
Москва, 2012

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Люблю Армению так нежно
Как невозможно рассказать
А связь моя чиста, безгрешна
Я постараюсь описать.

Я родилась в прекрасном Ереване,
В моей столице мира и любви.
Но, ещё не искупавшись на Севане,
Пришлось уехать мне с родной Земли.

Причиной стала трудная пора.
Вокруг было отсутствие тепла и света.
И чтобы как-то выжить до утра,
Нам нужно было дожидаться лета.

Когда мы уезжали из столицы.
Мне шёл тогда мой первый год,
И выезжая за границы,
Мы ощутили первый поворот.

Сменилось многое: пейзаж, язык, культура,
И прошлое ушло как в трубы дым.
Но, несмотря на смену всей структуры,
В России быстро стало всё вокруг родным.

И так вот тут росла, менялась,
Жила, училась, развивалась.
И были близкие друзья,
Я с ними редко расставалась.

Прошло довольно много лет.
Я знала мой язык, и песни,
Но сухо мной воспринимались вести,
Посланные Родиною вслед.

И вот спустя пятнадцать лет,
Увидела я снова Ереван.
Тогда узнав Армении завет,
Мне ближе стал наш гордый Хайастан.

Родители всегда мне говорили.
Какой чудесный наш Севан,
Какие люди золотые,
И как прекрасен Айгестан.

Когда сама увидела глазами,
Когда я ощутила прелесть гор,
Мои ресницы наполнились слезами,
И показалось, остальное было вздор.

И вот, гуляя по столице,
Я наслаждалась красотой.
Шагала и рассматривала лица.
Казалось, они пахли добротой.

Хотелось с каждым мне заговорить.
Бежать, чтоб не пропало даром время.
Лететь, чтобы продолжилась поэма.
Мечталось, мне минуты те восстановить.

Как же благодарна я родителям,
Что научили родному языку,
Я стала преданным ценителем,
Ведь мне любовь привили к дому моему.

В один из этих дней предстал священный Арарат.
И сердце так сильно защемило.
Что мне пришлось потупить взгляд.
А то бы страсть моя кого-то опалила.

Я каждый день старалась не забыть,
Мне так хотелось вспомнить каждый камень,
Тогда решила я любовь запечатлить,
Чтобы потом возобновился пламень.

Теперь Армения и жизнь слились в едино
Она есть часть моей души
В глазах всегда стоит Родины картина
И шепчет мне пиши, пиши, пиши…

Being a Part of My Homeland

Meghrig Jabaghchourian
Syria, AVC 2012-2013

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I know that I was enough lucky to get a chance of becoming a volunteer with Birthright Armenia and Armenian Volunteer Corps (AVC) for the second time. That means sharing more experience, learning new things, meeting different people.

This time I didn’t want to stay in Yerevan meet some tourists because Armenia is not just Yerevan; it is all the places from Gyumri to Martakert.

My First night in Yerevan

I arrived at 2:00 am to Yerevan, the driver told me that I had to go to Gayane’s home. When we arrived there, we knocked the door but no answer. After a few minutes a young man and a boy opened the door. That was Araz, another volunteer and he said “We didn’t know about you” Gayane woke up and said “Oh who are you?” I said I am a volunteer too and she was surprised… Anyway she was a very nice lady, and, after all, this was the first night after a long time, that I fell sleep with no voice of bombs and arms.

Gyumri

So my first step was to go to Gyumri. It is a very nice and ancient city — you touch the culture, the history, and also the pain and unforgettable sadness caused by the earthquake. I had to do something I have never done before working in an NGO called Youth Initiative Centre (YIC). I can’t forget the first day when I had to go to my work place all I knew is that I had to stop the Marshoutka in front of the old town hall. All the people in the marshutka knew that I was a newcomer and that I wanted to go to the old town hall, because I was keeping on asking the driver where we were and whether I had to get off there. In the end, he refused to take money from me. He said, “Du Hyur es estegh, patk chi vjares”

Nelly, Arthur, Gurgen, Anni, Tamara, Kert at YIC… we used to spend all the day together having lunch together which I will never forget, especially eating watermelons.  I learned so many things from them: I learned how to make others smile, how to bring joy and happiness to others, I learned how to help and love,  to create things with  small opportunities, I learned how to give while I had nothing and to feel that happiness and the satisfaction inside when you feel the people you feel their pain and bring a piece of smile to them.

Narine, my host sister, was a mother of two children, Hagpig and Ashotig — my host nephews. They were amazing! It was Hagopig’s birthday when I took him to the kinder garden with Narine all the children there knew about me. Narine and I used to sit at nights and share our issues, our dreams and traditions.

Artsakh

During my childhood Artsakh was inside me. All I remember about Artsakh is a video of the Armenian Soldiers who were fighting in Artsakh war and the songs of my Ante (she used to sing patriotic songs). I also remember how everyone used to joke of me when I was telling them I would become a soldier in the future to keep my homeland safe…

August  2012

I was told I would work with a lady called Susanna Petrosian in Artsakh Youth Development Center and live at her house. Susanna was a nice lady; I used to teach English and organize round tables discussions. I met many young people there. Susanna had three children — Valero Maria and Ovsana, who were all  so kind! Marian, who was 7 years old, used to teach me Russian words.

After 10 days I met Liliane de Cermadec , a producer from France and her work team. She told me they needed a translator and invited me to work with her. While I worked with her I had the chance to visit every place in Artsakh and be closer to my homeland. I will never forget Elada when she told me that they lost their three sons during the war. They were soldiers and the first one died in the prison in Baku. I don’t know if crying or shouting or even whining was enough to explain what I felt inside. Continue reading