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- What is Birthright Armenia?
- Who benefits from Birthright Armenia?
- If I am interested, how do I apply? Are there application deadlines, and is there a best time to apply?
- Do you have certain eligibility criteria that participants must meet to qualify for a travel fellowship?
- Eventhough I do not meet the Eligibility Criteria for the BirthrightArmenia travel fellowship, can I still apply to Birthright Armenia?
- What does Birthright Armenia's support include?
- Do I need to know Armenian?
- Does Birthright Armenia offer its own youth program in Armenia?
- How exactly does the homestay living option work?
- Does Birthright Armenia secure visas for volunteers?
- What type of job placements for community work are open to me in Armenia?
- How is Birthright Armenia funded?
- How can I contribute to Birthright Armenia?
What is Birthright Armenia?
Birthright Armenia is a non-profit organization, incorporated in the United States of America, with its operations based in Armenia. It was established with the primary goal of attracting a large number of young Armenian adults, aged 20-32, to Armenia by providing those interested in volunteering in the homeland with the opportunity to do so. Birthright Armenia offers travel fellowships, language instruction, lectures, host family living arrangements and excursions in exchange for volunteer internship service to those participants of existing organizations offering youth experiences in Armenia.
Who benefits from Birthright Armenia?
Young diasporans, existing diasporan institutions, the Homeland, and the Diaspora all benefit from Birthright Armenia.
The primary beneficiaries, of course, are the young diasporan adults who seize this opportunity of a lifetime and make the journey to Armenia to reconnect with their Armenian identity by tracing their ancestral roots, exploring the country, making new friendships, and feeling a part of the movement to build our nation state.
Here, too, the organizations and the youth-oriented programs they run are greatly enhanced by Birthright Armenia's services. We assist with recruitment, and provide infrastructural assistance to the programs in-country including volunteer placements, homestays, language instruction, excursions, educational forums and opportunities for alumni activism.
A different dynamic exists in Armenia with an increased influx of young enterprising diasporans from all parts of the globe. Picture the collaborations taking place with local counterparts of youth, the businesses on the ground that benefit from increased consumption, the better understanding of each others' similarities and differences when diasporans and Armenian counterparts put their minds and energies together on a worthwhile project, and the job creation that results from all of the above.
The Diaspora benefits as well, as the future leaders of our local communities around the world will have a solid commitment and sense of belonging to the homeland.
If I am interested, how do I apply? Are there application deadlines, and is there a best time to apply?
Some sponsored internship programs operate for the entire year (i.e. Armenian Volunteer Corps), and others have seasonal internship programs. Since each sponsored internship program has their own application process and timeframes, you will need to check their websites or contact them directly for that information. The application deadline to Birthright Armenia is June 1 for arrival in the summer months, and one month prior to arrival during the rest of the year.
In addition to our summer fellowships, applications are accepted year around for non-summer internship placements through the Armenian Volunteer Corps as well as all of the local sponsored NGOs in Armenia.
Do you have certain eligibility criteria that participants must meet to qualify for a travel fellowship?
Yes we do. To be eligible for a Birthright Armenia travel fellowship, the following criteria must be met:
Participants staying in the program for less than nine weeks will not get travel reimbursement. Those completing 9-14 weeks of volunteer service will be reimbursed 50% of the agreed travel cost . Participants serving 14 weeks or more, will get full travel reimbursement. Starting at the 18 weeks mark program participants will receive a monthly stipend of 60,000 AMD.
Summer months outside of Yerevan: Participants who complete their service during the months of June through August will be eligible only if the service is performed outside of Yerevan.
Note: All participants, regardless of their service location, may still apply to Birthright Armenia to partake in all program services including havaks, forums, excursions, language instruction and homestay living.
Additional Birthright Armenia requirements: Language proficiency demonstrated by proficiency test upon arrival oracquired through Armenian classes, havak participation and forum participation.
Participants must be of Armenian heritage (at least one grandparent).
Participants must be between 20 and 32 years old.
Participants must have graduated high school.
Limitations on Eligibility: Participants shall not have previously received a travel fellowship from Birthright Armenia, directly or via a cooperating program. Former citizens of Armenia are only eligible if they can prove by officialdocumentation that they left Armenia before the age of 12.
Absolutely yes. An applicant who does not meet the eligibility criteria for the travel fellowship may still apply and take advantage of all program services such as havaks, forums, excursions, homestays and language instructions. It must be noted that language classes have their own participation requirements which must be adhered to by all participants.
Our support begins with free roundtrip airfare to Armenia and continues with programs to keep you engaged with the Homeland long after your actual Birthright Armenia experience ends. We provide a wide range of special services including:
- Free online language instruction supplemented with in-class language instruction
- Free volunteer referral and placement services
- Free homestay living (with some exceptions)
- Free student counseling and referrals to accredited study programs
- Free in-country orientation, forums, networking events, weekly excursions and "havak" tie-in meetings with other volunteers from across the globe
- Online hub of information pertaining to opportunities available in Armenia
- Future alumni events
No. While being able to speak Armenian is certainly a plus, it is not a requirement for eligibility. Birthright Armenia has supported the development of an online Eastern Armenian tutorial, to assist participants in getting the language basics under their belt before departing for Armenia. Once in country, there will be continued language tutorial support for each participant, a minimum of five hours per week. The remaining part of your experience in Armenia will be the true instruction in language development.
Does Birthright Armenia offer its own youth program in Armenia?
No, Birthright does not offer its own program per se. Rather, it was created to buttress those existing organizations that do implement youth oriented internship programs in Armenia. Therefore, potential volunteers must first apply and be accepted into one of the sponsored internship programs (diasporan or Armenia-based) listed on the Birthright Web site. Birthright Armenia will supplement with an Add-On internship if the term of the original internship chosen is less than 9 weeks.
When a volunteer is accepted into the Birthright Armenia program, she/he can choose to be placed with a local host family during all or part of his/her stay. Each host family is pre-selected and pre-screened by Birthright Armenia, and usually has at least one member of the family who is within the same 20-32 year age bracket, which allows for youth-to-youth contact at home.
Thehost family option works like a modified bed-and-breakfast. Accommodations include a separate, private bedroom within a host family's home and access to a communal bathroom, kitchen and living area. Volunteers will not necessarily receive a house key, and should respect house rules regarding guests, phone use, privacy, and evening hours. Birthright
Each Birthright Armenia participant is responsible for securing their own visa to enter Armenia. You can secure your visa in one of two ways: 1) applying through your local Armenian embassy or consulate or 2) Purchasing a visa that is valid for 120 days upon your arrival in Yerevan at the Zvartnots airport. A 120-day visa costs 15,000 AMD. Make sure your citizenship and travel itinerary allows for a purchase of the visa in Armenia. Some transit cities may require the Armenian visa to be purchased prior to starting travel.
Volunteers that will be in Armenia for more than 120 days will be give options to renew their visas in Armenia.
Birthright Armenia maintains an extensive database of potential job placements for volunteers that include community service positions within Yerevan and outlying areas. These placements include positions within governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, as well as the private business sector. Depending on the volunteer's primary program, the interests and skills of the volunteer and the needs of local organizations, Birthright Armenia will work with volunteers closely to find an enjoyable and rewarding job placement. Click here for a list of possible job placements. While volunteers should find their initial job placements through their primary programs, Birthright has the available resources to aid volunteers in their search for additional community work or as part of the Add-On volunteer program.
The founder of Birthright Armenia so wholeheartedly believes in the Birthright Armenia mission that she used her own personal funds to start up the operation. Our fundraising plan by design includes seeking diversified funding from multiple sources including contributions from individuals within the global Armenian community, corporate sponsorships, private foundation grants, and income-generating special events.We have donors who have committed tocovering all of our overhead and administrative expenses, and fundraisefrom individuals and private foundations for the necessary remaining funds to cover all program related costs.
How can I contribute to Birthright Armenia?
For those interested in supporting Birthright Armenia'smission and services, you can make a donation via credit card by visiting our Online Donation page. Alternatively you may send your tax-deductible donation by check or money order to:
333 E. Lancaster Avenue #330
Wynnewood , PA 19096