Smithsonian Folklife Festival Blog: “How I Came to Understand the Heart of Armenia”

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival blog features an article authored by Armenian Volunteer Corps (AVC) participant Ophelie Patin (23, France). Ophelie volunteered in Armenia for five months. Read the full article here. Below are excerpts.

So what is this country where I’ve chosen to live, where all the names end in -yan, and where you need to take a deep breath before saying “thank you” in the local language (try saying shnorhakalutyun)? Armenia. At age twenty-three, I headed to Armenia to be a volunteer for five months. I decided to take a break in my studies in public policy at Sciences Po Paris for my first grand experience abroad. After five months at a university in Russia, I was looking for an experience both professional and personal. […]

Discovering AVC confirmed my decision to go to Armenia. There I had the opportunity to work with two NGOs based in the capital city, Yerevan. I volunteered three days a week at Transparency International Armenia (TIA), where I conducted research on economic competitiveness. Two days a week, I worked on inter-culturalism and social entrepreneurship at the International Center for International Research, Learning and Dialogue. […]

What I wanted more than anything, though, was to really understand the heart of Armenia. So for five months, I lived with a host family in their apartment in Yerevan. This afforded me a unique way to communicate with former soviets, whose daughter Arevik (“small sun” in Armenian) is my age.

As you start planning your travels, why not consider a service experience, be it professional or less formal; alone, as a couple, or with friends. AVC will customize the experience for you. Email us your questions at When you’re ready, you can simply apply online.

July 6, 2018