“I’ll be back.”
That’s what I said as I gazed out the window towards the beautiful Armenian landscape and Mt. Ararat. I just finished my month-long tenure with the Armenian Volunteer Corps – and it was the experience of a lifetime. I would say it is a once in a lifetime experience. However, I don’t want it to be so. I hope to return soon to this land and these people. Armenia was a wonderful experience; from the food to the sights, and especially the people, I loved it all. Having not traveled much outside of the United States, a lot of things were new for me. I think my eyes were glued wide open for the first three days!
I had begun learning Armenian when I served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Glendale, California. There I quickly developed a love for Armenians and their hospitality. Although not ethnically Armenian myself, I decided that I wanted to go to Armenia and experience the homeland for myself. In my research before traveling to Armenia, I came across AVC. The wonderful people at AVC helped to make my dream a reality by organizing my airport pickup, a lovely host grandma, and a volunteer site placement. AVC’s employees were so helpful in my journey; they were quick to respond to any questions and ensured that I was enjoying my experience.
Volunteering in Gyumri
I decided to stay in Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri, and I’m so glad that I did. There, I found the authentic Armenian life (and very little English!). I grew to love the unique Gyumri dialect (“inch khes”) and the cozy marshrutka rides 🙂 My host “tatik” has become another grandmother for me, and I made so many great friends there. I even helped to teach English to one of my neighbors’ kids.
My job site was Annaniks LLC., a software development company in Gyumri. With around 15 employees, Annaniks develops mobile applications and websites for customers around the globe. I worked on back-end application development with the Python Django framework for an EV Charging Application. In addition, I helped with a community service project of renovating a local school. In all of my volunteering efforts, I felt like I was contributing and helping to make a difference. You can’t duplicate the satisfaction and joy that comes from serving others, and I felt that throughout my time volunteering in Gyumri.
So, for a great trip to Armenia, I say thank you. For the wonderful friends, food, and experience, I say thank you. For the nice lady who sold me khatchapuri to the long list of strangers who “hyurasirec” (were hospitable to) me, I say thank you. And to AVC, who made it all possible for me, thank you.
I’ll be back before long.
Written by Chad bell, a 21 year old participant from the United States