Numerous things come to mind when one says Armenia. It is home to the world’s oldest winery. Its capital Yerevan is older than Rome. It’s the first country on earth that adopted Christianity as its state religion. It has the largest lake in the South Caucasus and the longest cable car with a breathtaking view. And it’s home to 345 of Europe’s estimated 530 bird species. During bird migration it’s even a transit country for Flamingos.
What about food? You can taste the sun immediately from the first bite. Due to its geography and weather peculiarities, the fruits and vegetables have an expressed taste. And despite the fact that we have a unique cuisine, our ingredients make the taste much more enriching and mesmerizing. You can visit, see, smell, and taste a lot about Armenia. But as a volunteering destination it has way more things to offer to you.
Armenia: a country of opportunities
As a developing country, Armenia offers many doors of opportunities. Some of the sectors of the economy are rapidly developing, creating room for innovation, creativity, and exchange of experience.
The IT sector, for example, has a strategic role in the country’s development. Offering a high level of productivity with a request of relatively low payment, Armenian IT companies are quite attractive to foreign investors. Engaging into this sector will be very promising for those who seek volunteering, university internship, or exchange of experience opportunities. Especially for university internships, this is a one-of-a-kind place to come. Many of the students make every effort to get an offer from Google or Facebook. But here in Armenia they may register a bigger impact and get more precious hands-on experience than in such big companies, where one will be just a small cell of it.
Other fields in Armenia with promising opportunities include but are not limited to health, environment, human rights and law, policy development, management, business, and many more. Most importantly these fields can be merged into multidisciplinary opportunities, such as combining engineering with health to boost biomedical engineering or environment and policy to come up with environmental policy implementation in Armenia, such as efficient waste management.
Turning these opportunities into volunteering experiences in Armenia
Armenian Volunteer Corps, a Yerevan-based organization, acts as a conduit between more than 1,200 partner organizations operating in the above mentioned fields in Armenia and our applicants. We examine all the applications to figure out the fields the volunteers want to commit themselves to. Then we contact our partners to get the offer for them. Participants can volunteer at more than one organization and field. All these preparations are done before the participants arrive, so that upon their arrival they already have the volunteering offers at hand. Volunteering can be from as short as two weeks to a maximum of one year.
What about the amazing things we were talking about Armenia? Unlike most volunteering opportunities, AVC is a lot more about receiving rather than giving. It’s a unique combination of professional experience and fun, where you end up with an emotionally and professionally fulfilling trip. Along with your volunteering, the program organizes weekly excursions and forums for you to immerse yourself into Armenia’s culture, traditions, and the local life. Excursions are one-of-a-kind and non-touristic, where you can enjoy the sights, interact with locals, cook and eat Armenian dishes, celebrate festivals, and many more. Forums organized during the week uncover so much interesting information about Armenia — from folk music and traditional costumes (taraz) to visiting various companies and organizations. In a nutshell, come, volunteer, discover Armenia from all the angles, connect with people and take a piece of Armenia with you back home.
Volunteer in Armenia at any age, year round!
With AVC you can be too young to volunteer but never too old, find another excuse! We accept international volunteers from 21 and above and our oldest volunteer to date was 86. Applicants of Armenian descent should be 33 and above to join AVC (if aged 21-32, and of at least 25% Armenian descent, you can consider Birthright Armenia).
When can you join? Year round! We accept applications at any point in time, just consider that the application process may last two to four weeks and that’s all! Whether (1) you took a gap year from your studies and want to have volunteering experience; (2) just finished the university and want to do an internship; (3) you are a professional in your field and want to do experience sharing; or (4) you are a retiree who has a vast knowledge to share and is in search of a new journey, come volunteer in Armenia in 2022. Come move mountains!
By Lusine Minasyan, Armenian Volunteer Corps