Saturday, April 27th (Bike tour) - From Yerevan to Etchmiadzin, volunteers rode bikes, stopping along the way to visit other cathedrals before the main cathedral of Etchmiadzin. Before the guided tour, they had dinner at a local restaurant, enjoying good company and good food.Friday, April 26th (Community Service, Recycling Flowers)- After the country paid their respects and laid flowers at Tsitsernakaberd, it was our turn to recycle the flower petals which would later be used to make paper. Soon after, volunteers visited the Armenian Genocide Museum.
Monday, April 22nd (Earth Day, Community Service Project)- In commemoration of Earth Day, volunteers started the day by planting trees with the Armenia Tree Project and the U.S. Ambassador in Jrahovit. Volunteers mingled with the local students and political officials who were present. That was followed by helping out Green Lane NGO prepare a plot of land by clearing it of large rocks and cleaning and painting a bungalow. And, after a long day of work, it was here where a picnic was held, as well.
Friday, April 19th (Havak with host family)- A lighthearted and fun gathering, volunteers ate, drank, and socialized in the home of one of our very own host families.
Wednesday, April 17th (Armenia-Turkey Relations)- An informational forum, volunteers had the chance to meet Dr. Vahram Ter-Matevosyan, a senior lecturer at the American University of Armenia who has published on Armenian-Turkish relations. Volunteers learned about the historical and political relationship and were free to ask questions.
Saturday, April 13th (Garni, Geghard with Little
Singers of Armenia)- What
made this excursion particularly special was that the volunteers had the
fortune of being accompanied by the Little Singers of Armenia, a choir of girls
aged 11 to 16 who have been honored countless times and are internationally
well known. On the way to the temple and monastery, a brief stop was made at
the Charents Arch that beautifully frames the Ararat Valley with Masis in the
backdrop. Afterwards, they made their way to the pagan Garni Temple located in
the Kotayk Province. Along with a tour, the choir serenaded the volunteers with
a mini concert inside this Parthenon-like temple. The next stop was the Geghard
Monastery situated on the cliffs of the Azat river gorge. Once again, the
Little Singers of Armenia filled the silence with a few songs performed inside
one of the churches. This excursion, although shorter, was a heavenly visit
that presented some of Armenia’s most historical and
Wednesday, April 10th (Tumo Center for Creative Technologies)- This one of a kind technologies center is unique to Armenia and the volunteers had the chance to visit this nonprofit which has seen thousands of youths walk through their doors since September 2011. They presented ongoing and future projects, student designs and undertakings amongst many other focus areas. Considering Armenia is a young country, it was a hopeful and astonishing sight to see such a learning environment have a large impact on future professionals.
Sat/Sun, April 6-7th (Karahounch, Tatev Monastery)- This excursion consisted of two extraordinary days full of culture and history. One of the stops was at Karahundj, also known as Zorakarer, in the Syunik province. Older than England’s Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, volunteers had the luxury to see this archaeological site up close accompanied with a tour guide followed by a friendly picnic with a view of the surrounding hills. Afterwards, they made their way to Devil’s Bridge, the deepest part of the Vorotan gorge, climbing the rocks and enjoying the scenery. Next up was the Tatev Monastery. Rich in history and architectural significance, volunteers were given a guided tour and personal time to explore this 9th century monastery. Needing a rest from a long day of traveling and sightseeing, they spent the night at a village near the monastery called Tanzatap. Paired off and assigned to separate villagers who graciously offered their homes, volunteers felt what it was like to work and live in a tucked-away village far from the hustle and bustle of Yerevan. After a long night, they headed over to the world’s longest cable car, riding high above the mountains and gorges. Then, traveling to the nearby city of Goris, volunteers picnicked, explored the ancient cave dwellings, and hiked the towering mountains surrounding the town. Having a lot of information and culture to digest, the overnight excursion became a trip that showed a side of Armenia that normally many would not have the pleasure of seeing.
Wednesday, March 27th (Matt Bartelsian, Pomegrantopia)- Volunteers met with businessman Matt Bartelsian, American founder of Pomegrantopia, who lives in Armenia with his family. Having helped built powerful brands like Johnson & Johnson and Coca-Cola, he has brought his visions to Armenia, hoping to expand the young market. He spoke of his emotional and professional difficulties at home and abroad, touching on personal topics that many related to.
Tuesday, March 26th (Armenia vs. Czech FIFA game)-
Doing what for some may
be a once in a lifetime chance, volunteers geared up and watched the 2014 FIFA
World Cup Qualification match between Armenia and the Czech Republic. Feeling
the intensity of Armenian passion for the world’s most popular sport, faces
became works of art and national flags became scarves and blankets to show
support during what was a friendly match. Despite having lost, it was the
experience of screaming fans and the excitement of the game in our home country
that made it an event to never forget.
Saturday, March 23rd (Armavir Vineyard, Gourme Dourmé Chocolate Factory)- First stop on this excursion was the chocolate factory Gourmet Dourmé, founded by brothers Pierre and Diran Bagdadian, located in Ashtarak. Volunteers had the chance to witness the behind-the-scenes work and what it took to create this “maison de chocolat.” Inspired by Austrian taste and Armenian culture, this family owned company has points of sale in major supermarkets and boutiques. Volunteers were even lucky enough to try some fresh samples and take them home! Second stop on this all-day excursion was Armavir Vineyards located in the Ararat plateau. Despite Armavir being the smallest and most densely populated region in western Armenia, it is also the home of this vineyard that produces a variety of international and indigenous wines. Showered with typical Armenian hospitality, the volunteers lunched with the vineyard employees and were given a tour of the estate that will soon make Armenia a household name with wines.
Wednesday, March 20th (UrbanLab Yerevan)- As part of the Forum Lecture Series, volunteers had the pleasure of meeting Sevada Petrossian, architect and founder of UrbanLab Yerevan. He offered a glimpse into the work he and his staff do in providing safe and healthy living environments as well as social and cultural involvement in urban planning.2012 has been an exceptional year of growth for Birthright Armenia: we hit the record number of participants – 128 volunteers from 15 different countries.
2012 infographics on alumni repatriation –
every 16-th Birthright Armenia participant becomes a REPAT!
This as an exceptional achievement, and we believe it makes our organization one of a kind!
Another important meeting held as part of our Forum Lecture series: Ministry of Defense of Armenia! Our participants and AGBU YSIP interns had a chance to hear from the Defense Minister, Seyran Ohanyan. He presented the current security issues and the essential role of the Armenian Diaspora, followed by a Q&A session on military service and situation in Artsakh.
Birthright Armenia Partcipants Meeting with the President of Artsakh Republic
Birthright Armenia signed a Partnership Agreement with
TUMO Center for Creative Technologies
Getting inspired from entrepreneur and philanthropist
The get together provided for a unique opportunity to hear from a inspirational individual whose personal and career ambitions have gelled into a successful engagement with Armenia over more than a decade. James reflected on his childhood, his later connection with his Armenian identity, and bringing his business knowhow and philanthropy to many of Armenia’s regions and Artsakh.
More than half of the 90 minute chat dealt with questions from Birthright Armenia participants, “the smartest questions I’ve encountered from any group”, acknowledged Mr. Tufenkian. To one particular question on how can he avoid the syndrome of being distanced and jaded from the realities of the people and their lives while being on top of a successful business operation. He answered by stating that he makes an effort to go out to the regions, and relate to his employees, and people in the villages, and that those experiences give him the greatest satisfaction.
Agreement signed between Birthright Armenia and
the National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia
“Throughout its 8-year history, Birthright Armenia has signed numerous cooperation agreements, and today’s event is also an important one for us. We believe in the bright future of Armenia”, said Sevak Kabakian in his speech.
According to CEO Khachaturyan, “this agreement is an important step towards further strengthening of our statehood and active engagement of young professionals from Diaspora in projects aimed at development of Armenia”.
Birthright Armenia Goes to Lebanon [video]
Birthright Armenia featured in the Jerusalem Post