A warm welcome from Armenians reconciled my language barrier
The decision to come to Armenia was on my mind for quite some time. It was going to be my third time coming back, so I already had an idea of what to expect. However, I still didn’t want to have any specific expectations, especially since I was going to stay for a longer time. I was ready to experience Armenia in a different way, to immerse myself in the culture, and to use my experience to benefit the community.
As soon as I arrived in Armenia, I was taken to my host family’s apartment. I was nervous, and I knew that I was going to face challenges, but I kept an open mind. When the driver dropped me off, I was greeted by my host mom. I tried to use whatever Armenian I could, and she was welcoming and kind to me. Soon after, I met the entire family, and I realized that language would be a challenge, but I didn’t want it to become a barrier. I was determined to use whatever little Armenian I knew and to learn the language as much as possible while I was there.
Challenges make us stronger
During my stay in Armenia, I was placed at different job sites. I mainly taught English at the European Institute of International Languages and the International Children’s Center. They welcomed me and made me feel like I was part of their family. I honestly believed there would be some resistance and maybe skepticism from their side, but I was completely wrong. I gave it my all, and I put myself in uncomfortable situations. I was out of my comfort zone as I attempted to teach 4-year-olds! They showed me appreciation and support that I wasn’t expecting.
I definitely faced many challenges during my stay. I’m not going to sugarcoat my experience and just talk about how amazing my experience was because life isn’t like that. Armenia is not the easiest place to live in, and comparing it to where you come from or any other country is not going to help. Armenians have been through many hardships, to say the least, and that has impacted society. Listening to people’s stories and seeing how people live, you can sense a division and maybe, at times, some hopelessness. However, on the other side, there is determination and a desire to live a better life. There is perseverance and sacrifice and an understanding that nothing comes easy. I’ve definitely learned a lot from the people that I’ve met, and this showed me a deeper appreciation of my life and how sometimes I just took things for granted.
I am thankful for this unique experience. I came wanting to benefit the community and share my skills and experience, but I also learned many life lessons and met incredible people I’ll never forget. Armenia is developing, and there are many ways to help and contribute. It’s easy to complain when things aren’t what we expected, but it doesn’t change anything. If we want to change, then we need to strive and do our part. There’s a quote by Roy T. Bennett that says, “It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” I truly believe this, and I would like to add that once you decide to do something about it, that’s when you start seeing results. Armenia is my second home, and I’m leaving with a deeper sense of connection…this is not the end but just the beginning.