Izabella Hayrapetyan’s History of Volunteering at AVC

 

Why did I choose AVC?

 

When I decided to go back to my homeland, I carefully thought through my plans long before my arrival. Volunteering caught my interest during this period. Coincidentally, a friend, who had also been repatriated, had begun volunteering with Birthright Armenia. She credits this experience for sparking her love and profound connection with Armenia. She recommended AVC to me, and following her suggestions, I soon found myself in their Professional Corps program.

What appealed to me most about AVC is its inclusive environment that welcomes people of diverse ages and nationalities to fulfill their potential. I think it’s remarkable that Armenia offers numerous educational and support initiatives for young Diasporan Armenians seeking integration and contribution to the nation’s progress. Moreover, beyond this demographic, there are also individuals in many countries, regardless of ethnicity, who have a deep interest in Armenia, its culture, nature, and people. They cherish the chance to immerse themselves in the country, engage in work, travel, and delve into various aspects of local life. In this regard, AVC stands out for its incredible facilitation of such enriching experiences.

I was greatly impressed by the organization of AVC’s operations. From the initial application process to completing my volunteering service, I consistently received comprehensive information and support from AVC staff. This reliable assistance gave me confidence that I could depend on their help whenever needed. Even after completing my volunteering service with AVC, I am delighted to maintain connections with the program and eagerly participate in any organized activities whenever I can.

I actively participated in AVC-organized forums, particularly focusing on initiatives related to women’s empowerment and employment in Armenia. In my view, women play a crucial role in the country, actively contributing to its progress. Nonetheless, there remains a pressing need for more acknowledgment of their contributions, particularly concerning their status and fair compensation. Employment in Armenia is one of the priority areas of development. For volunteers like myself who want to stay in the country, it’s the most pressing issue. That’s why it’s so important to understand the current state of the labor market in Armenia and seek opportunities for its further improvement.

 

Life in Armenia

 

Transitioning to life in Armenia was a relatively smooth process for me, devoid of significant stress. While my personal norms and routines didn’t always align perfectly with those prevalent in the country, mutual willingness enabled us to address any major issues effectively. The newcomer’s experience is undoubtedly influenced by the social environment they encounter, and Armenia generally extends a warm welcome to visitors. Armenians also, to a reasonable extent, embrace the varied life experiences and problem-solving volunteers bring with them. From my perspective, the more people with diverse life experiences coming to Armenia, the calmer and more tolerant the overall situation in the country becomes, thus paving the way for new opportunities.

 

About Volunteering

 

I value the volunteering experience for its ability to foster professional relationships in a less formal setting. Unlike official employment, where there’s often a period of adjustment to new work dynamics that can unnecessarily prolong the adaptation process, volunteering typically operates within a limited timeframe. In this case, the relationships are built faster and at the same time more thoughtfully. It’s also important to note that for successful volunteering, both parties—the volunteers and hosting job sites—play a crucial role. These two sides are similar in the way that they both are willing to share and receive experiences.

Through my participation in AVC, I had the opportunity to volunteer with several partner organizations in Yerevan.

Volunteering with Frontline Therapists was truly an incredible experience, and I felt privileged to be part of the team. Our alignment in values, approaches, attitudes towards life, and profession made the collaboration immensely fulfilling. The therapists in Frontline Therapists are flexible, open, unafraid to discuss complex situations and experiences, support each other, and are adept at conveying difficult issues in the most accessible and delicate manner possible. Our series of joint seminars and training sessions for professionals received a very warm and sincere response from participants.

In addition, I took part in a psychosocial study focusing on displaced people from Artsakh. Throughout this period, I witnessed the emotional warmth and the strong commitment of my Frontline Therapists colleagues in aiding those in need, not only in psychological terms but also through their readiness to travel to various regions of Armenia and provide much-needed support. As such, my engagement with Frontline Therapists not only brought me a sense of professional fulfillment but also immense personal satisfaction.

During my volunteer service, I also collaborated with the Armenian Red Cross Society, where I conducted seminars for employees on the topic of preserving psychological well-being and preventing burnout. Furthermore, I had the wonderful opportunity to conduct an introductory lecture on infant development methodology at the Oghak NGO. Each country has its own specificities concerning child development and upbringing, and it was valuable for me to exchange experiences in this field with invited specialists and an interested audience.

In essence, what I am trying to say is that volunteering offers a unique chance to experience the diverse and authentic aspects of the country’s life. It also presents opportunities for unexpected challenges and changes, underscoring the importance of adaptability and problem-solving skills. Through navigating these experiences, we not only grow and develop in new environments but also gain deeper insights into the world around us and within ourselves.

 

Izabella Hayrapetyan has more than 20 years of experience a psychologist, consultant, lecturer, workshop facilitator, and researcher at a scientific laboratory in Moscow. She joined AVC’s Professional Corps in January 2024 for two months, supporting Frontline Therapists where she conducted a series of seminars for specialists dedicated to crisis and extreme situation psychology and first psychological aid; and the Armenian Red Cross Society, where she conducted seminars for their employees. She also delivered a lecture on early childhood development at Oghak NGO.

May 24, 2024