When people choose Armenia as their volunteer destination, out of all the possible locations around the world they can go to gain experience and make an impact, we feel proud; when they choose it online, we are even prouder.
Navigating the pandemic has been a great challenge to running our volunteer program with closed borders having prevented our participants from joining us on the ground for a hands-on experience. We quickly exercised flexibility to continue filling the needs of our partner organizations by setting our volunteers up to volunteer remotely. And we’re happy to report their virtual engagement has allowed them to successfully contribute their skills and expertise, despite the distance, to appreciative companies on the ground here in Armenia.
Why did You Choose Armenia?
You, like us, might be wondering, so we asked our remote volunteers: “of all the places to contribute to virtually around the world, why Armenia?” Here are some of their answers:
Vahan Gürmann, one of our Professional Corps volunteers from Switzerland, tells us he has “emotional ties with Armenian people and Armenia. I was born in Istanbul, Turkey to an Armenian family who has lived in Istanbul for several centuries. After being enrolled in an Armenian bilingual primary school (Armenian and Turkish) for 5 years, my parents sent me to an international boarding school in Switzerland, where I live to this day.” Vahan, who has been advising the Business Support Center on a key project proposal, notes that “although online volunteering is a challenge in terms of communication, self-motivation, discipline, and organization of the work, I have past experience in working online and therefore I volunteered for this work with Armenia.”
Moving Mountains Through Online Volunteering
Genevieve Brown, from the UK, has been working on the MyArmenia program website in addition to transcribing lectures for them. She says “I was interested in volunteering in Armenia specifically because, as part of my degree [in Politics and East European Studies] , I lived in Russia for a year and met many lovely Armenians and then traveled to Armenia last summer. I was inspired to get involved because I enjoyed my experience, and also because Armenia is at a really exciting place in its history. I feel like I’ve already learned so much through my work with MyArmenia.”
“As a travel enthusiast, I love learning and discovering different cultures, but my first purpose of visiting Armenia before was for sightseeing only. Upon learning that I could also volunteer in Armenia through AVC, I immediately applied. I thought that volunteering would be a more memorable experience for me while traveling. Still, at this time, it seemed impossible to do so due to the pandemic,” says Edgardo Noblejas, from the Philippines. A Human Resouces Officer with a background in programming, he has been teaching HTML/CSS classes for Arev-Van Educational Center. “When AVC offered online volunteering, I immediately agreed to try. Through this volunteering, I have begun to learn things about Armenia, its culture as well as its people,” says Edgardo.
The Distance Does Not Seem to Matter
Helping Armenia was a priority for Nanor Der Boghossian, our online volunteer from Lebanon. An experienced graphic designer, she has been working with the All-Armenia Fund, on animations, videos, info-graphics and other promotional materials. She tells us that everything is running smoothly, and “the only thing missing is the human in-person contact with my AVC team and my homeland, Armenia.”
The distance does not seem to matter to our volunteers. “My motivation for online volunteering stems from the fact that despite the global pandemic, I still wanted to help out. Volunteering in Armenia was something that I had planned a year before, and when the global lockdown came, I was sad that I couldn’t go. But when the opportunity to volunteer online came, I said yes,” says Silas Taarup-Esbensen from Denmark who is serving at My Agrovillage.