“So why did you come to Armenia?” | Camille Perrusson

 

“Are you Armenian?”

“No”

“So why did you come to Armenia?”

“Why not?”

 

At the dawn of my 25th birthday, I decided it was time to explore new horizons.

I needed change after five years of studying without really taking time for myself.

Mentally turned off, I listened to my heart and trusted my intuition.

I packed to go to Armenia knowing almost nothing about the country.

To be honest, I didn’t choose Armenia, Armenia chose me first among the few applications I sent to go abroad.

To go to a country of which I didn’t know the culture, the alphabet, the language, and with no experience abroad to my credit was madness for a hypersensitive like me. I still remember the surprise in the eyes of some of my relatives and friends when I told them that I was going to spend 8 months here.

Saturday, March 30, 2019, 4am.

That’s it, I’m here. Here I am in Armenia.

With a red suitcase and a purple backpack, I don’t go unnoticed in the middle of the warm reunion and hugs that punctuate the arrivals area. Taxis and security agents come to me and speak to me in Armenian or Russian. They understand that I am not from here. Some insist, others continue on their way.

As for me, I wonder on what adventure I embarked.

40 minutes later, my driver finally arrives. We cross Yerevan in the pouring rain.

The city seems abandoned and sad. Culture shock is present.

What about today? I think it was the best decision of my life. This experience abroad has changed my outlook on life on many levels. It’s been seven months since I moved to Yerevan. Since, the days follow each other and are not alike. Most of the time, I do not know where I am going, I do not know where the paths that I choose to take (literally or figuratively) lead me, but I choose to follow them. I let myself be guided by discoveries and encounters. Every day, I walk where life is sunny.

The first few months were difficult. I faced a number of difficulties: the feeling of being misunderstood because of the language barrier, the loss of bearings, the feeling of not being in my place, the questioning of everything … and especially of oneself. In spite of these questions and these moments of doubt, the wonderful sensation of feeling alive, anchored in the present moment, never left me since I put both feet on Armenian soil. I experiment moments of great emotion, I discover the story and the riches of a country that has a lot to teach us, I contemplate landscapes and cultural heritage of indescribable beauty, I enjoy the Armenian food…

At the professional level, I had the opportunity to work in different structures and to carry out cultural projects with different types of public, especially in the educational department of the National Gallery of Armenia. If the sector of cultural mediation was familiar to me in France, I discover here other visions and other ways to apprehend artistic and cultural education. The flexibility of AVC has also allowed me to explore other horizons and broaden my scope. I have supported several NGOs whose mission is to provide medical and social support to children with disabilities, with the aim of developing their autonomy and social integration. In this context, I participated in setting up and running educational workshops.

Obviously, this experience abroad wouldn’t have been so rewarding without all the beautiful encounters that crossed my path and illuminated this stay. My host family, my roommates, Birthright Armenia and AVC family, my co-workers, and all those people with whom I had the pleasure of sharing moments of joy that I would not have dared to imagine such as witnessing an Armenian wedding.

Whether it be chance encounters, unexpected, obvious, inspiring, overwhelming, I cherish each one of them.

Thanks to AVC for your commitment. What a great mission to gather people from all around the world in one place in order to grow together and know more about where we come from, who we are and who we want to be.

I will end this feedback with a quote from Paulo Coelho that makes sense to me since my arrival in Armenia:

“If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello. ”

Merci Hayastan jan

 

29/03/2019 – 29/11/2019

Camille Perrusson

France. 2019

03/12/2020