As the granddaughter of genocide survivors who later migrated to Uruguay (the first country to recognize the Armenian genocide), I’ve always been proud of my heritage and yearned to go to Armenia not only to visit but to also give back to the community. However, finding the “right time” was difficult until recently, when I decided to quit my twenty year career as a Spanish teacher to travel around the world. I didn’t have a plan or buy any plane tickets ahead of time, and after a few months of traveling to places like the Philippines and Guatemala, it wasn’t until I found myself in Romania that it hit me. “This is the right time. It’s the moment I’ve been waiting for. I want to go to Armenia”.
Finding AVC and Conquering Fears
I made the decision but now what? I had many questions swirling around my head: Which organization would be the right fit? How far ahead of time would I need to prepare before arriving? Would it be safe to go there with the conflicts that are going on nearby? What if I don’t speak Armenian fluently? When would be the right time to go? Could I afford it?
Armenian Volunteer Corps (AVC) caught my attention for several reasons and I decided to begin their online application process before leaving Romania. However, I got a little discouraged when I read that the AVC placement could take a while. I almost gave up thinking I waited too last minute to complete the application forms online. I only had 2 days left and had to buy a plane ticket soon! Fortunately, my friend Laura convinced me to finish the application. She had a hunch that AVC would contact me much sooner than I thought… come to find out, she was completely right.
Miracles Happen With AVC
One of my favorite passages from Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist reads “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” and what happened next I can only describe as a miracle. Soon after submitting my application, Ms. Arina Zohrabian (the executive director of AVC) and the AVC team contacted me to schedule a Zoom meeting the next day! We had a wonderful and meaningful conversation about my objectives and goals during my stay in Armenia, my skills and interests, and what organizations I would be interested in working with. In less than 24 hours, I bought my plane ticket to Yerevan, the AVC team placed me with a wonderful homestay family, and they sent me all the necessary forms and information that needed to be completed before arriving in Armenia. They were always very communicative and transparent with the process and expectations while at the same time accommodating.
Volunteering in Yerevan
The universe continued opening more doors. A few hours after my decision, the director of the State Committee for Tourism reached out to AVC expressing that they had an urgent need of a volunteer who could help translate their website to Spanish. I immediately accepted it. For two weeks, I had the pleasure to work with the State Committee for Tourism where their main mission is developing tourism in Armenia and this was the perfect fit for my skills and interests. I contributed by helping promote tourism to Armenia to Spanish speakers.
In addition to the translation assignment, I volunteered at the beautiful Yerevan Botanical Garden helping with tasks in their gardens while enjoying nature and good company. I absolutely enjoyed trying something new and out of my comfort zone.
An Unforgettable Experience
I was pleasantly impressed how AVC made the whole process so smoothly and quickly! I enjoyed every moment of my volunteer experience and giving back to the community. Also, I had an unforgettable experience with my loving homestay family, created lifelong friendships, and I looked forward to attending my Armenian language and culture classes.
In addition to volunteering, I had the opportunity to do some sightseeing. I loved visiting a few of Armenia’s breathtaking towns such as Gyumri and Garni. In Yerevan, I absolutely cherished and was overcome with emotion when I visited the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex and the Genocide Museum.
I am so happy I took the plunge and made it to Armenia! I wanted to immerse myself in the culture and make a meaningful contribution to the motherland. I know my grandparents would be very proud of me and I look forward to coming back in the future to stay for a longer period of time. If you are considering coming to Armenia, do not hesitate to do it. Go for it! You will be in good hands and AVC will definitely take care of you.