Exploring Armenia through the Eyes of International Volunteers

Armenia offers immersive cultural and historical experiences that attract volunteers from around the globe, not just Armenians from the Diaspora. Through the Armenian Volunteer Corps (AVC), individuals like Elouan Jeannot from France and Sinan Abdulhammed from Iraq can go on an adventure full of discovery, community engagement, and cultural immersion.

 

Cultural Immersion and Community Engagement

 

Elouan’s experience was enriched by Armenia’s culinary delights, festive spirit, and communal warmth. Traditional dishes like Khorovats and Harissa became his favorites. “Eating these dishes during special occasions and celebrations is something I won’t soon forget,” he reflects. Elouan also discovered a passion for Armenian culture through its traditional dances. He enjoyed taking dance lessons with friends. The music of Armenia captivated him as well. “We really enjoyed visiting bars where they played Armenian music. We had some great times meeting and sharing moments with local Armenians,” he says.

Similarly, Sinan’s experience with Armenian cuisine was all about flavors, with dishes such as dolma, khinkali, and khash leaving a lasting impression. “Among these, dolma stood out as my absolute favorite, with its flavorful combination of ingredients and unique presentation,” he shares.

What about Armenian celebrations? Elouan found the New Year and Christmas festivities, a blend of his French heritage and Armenian culture, to be particularly memorable. On the other hand, Sinan experienced the joy of the Vardavar festival, where the simple act of splashing water symbolizes renewal and community. “It was a joyous and lively experience, filled with laughter and camaraderie,” Sinan recalls.

 

Discovery and Connection

 

Both volunteers were captivated by Armenia’s rich history and architecture. Elouan was impressed by the Armenian monasteries. At the same time, Sinan was struck by the harmony between the Pagan Temple of Garni and the natural landscape, often called the ‘Symphony of Stones.’

Language and local customs presented challenges but also opportunities for deeper understanding and connection. Elouan’s journey through learning Armenian and Sinan’s learning basic phrases enhanced their cultural immersion and facilitated meaningful interactions with locals.

Sinan’s experience at the Best Life Armenian-Japanese Medical Center, founded in 2019, added a professional dimension to his volunteer work. The center’s commitment to high-quality care and modern diagnostic equipment provided a unique insight into Armenia’s healthcare landscape.

 

Reflections and Advice

 

Elouan and Sinan’s experiences highlight once again how volunteering in Armenia can bring about meaningful change. Elouan advises future volunteers to arrive without preconceptions and embrace the local lifestyle. At the same time, Sinan emphasizes the importance of an open mindset and the willingness to immerse oneself in the local culture.

Through their experiences, both volunteers contributed to the communities they served, embraced Armenian culture, and left with memories and friendships that transcend borders. With its blend of tradition and hospitality, Armenia offers a unique setting for volunteers to learn, grow, and contribute to a global community.

May 30, 2024