How it All Works
The typical Birthright Armenia experience has three phases:
- Pre-country: Application to Birthright Armenia.Knowledge of Armenian is not mandatory for participation, however, taking our online tutorial is encouraged to help with some basic language skills prior to arrival.
- In-country: Volunteering for 30 hours a week, participating in evening language classes, seminars and gatherings, plus optional weekend excursions. We also highly encourage meeting and interacting with local residents to help gain a better understanding of life in Armenia.
- Post-country: Continued involvement and engagement in Armenian activities, assisting and facilitating alumni presentations to inspire future participants, promoting Armenian economic, cultural ties, strengthening diasporan Armenian organizations and community life.
WHEN YOU DECIDE TO APPLY:
1. Make sure you meet all of the ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA outlined below.
2. Complete the Birthright Armenia online application. The application also asks for a reference letter to be submitted on your behalf.
3. Decide if you would like to stay with a Birthright Armenia Host Family. On the online application, you will be asked whether you want to stay and live with one of our pre-screened host families. These families offer you a private bedroom in their home, a daily breakfast, and lots of traditional Armenian hospitality.
Basically, a home away from home. Birthright Armenia covers host family expenses as follows: 1) Out of Yerevan, all expenses paid in full for all volunteers, 2) In the months of Sept - May, all expenses paid in full for all volunteers, 3) From June - Aug, 50% of the monthly 76200 AMD cost for Yerevan based volunteers, 100% for Out of Yerevan based volunteers, 4). Long term volunteers (4+ months) have their home stays paid IN FULL, without exception. Additional meals and laundry costs are extra.
THE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR PARTICIPATION & TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT:
There are basic requirements to be eligible for program participation, and there are additional requirements for the travel fellowship. The applicant should meet eligibility requirements both prior to travel, and during the stay in Armenia in order to be reimbursed the travel expenses. It is important to become familiar with all these requirements prior to filling out the online application.
A(1). PRIOR TO ARRIVAL- PROGRAM PARTICIPATION CRITERIA: To be eligible for Birthright Armenia program participation, the applicant must meet all of the following criteria:
Four-week Minimum: Participants must complete a minimum of four weeks of volunteer service in Armenia. This could be achieved by selecting a sponsored internship program that lasts a minimum of four weeks.
Heritage: Participants must be of Armenian heritage (at least one grandparent must be fully Armenian).
Age/Education: Participants must be between the ages of 20 and 32 years, and must have graduated from high school (secondary school).
Former residents of Armenia: Former
citizens of Armenia are only eligible if they can prove by official
documentation that they left Armenia before the age of 12.
A(2). PRIOR TO ARRIVAL- ADDITIONAL CRITERIA FOR THE TRAVEL FELLOWSHIP: To be eligible for the Birthright Armenia Travel Fellowship, the applicant must meet all of the following additional criteria:
9-14 weeks for a 50% travel fellowship: Participants who complete 9-14 weeks of volunteer service in Armenia will be reimbursed 50% of the agreed travel cost.
minimum for a 100% travel fellowship: Participants who complete 14+ weeks of volunteer
service in Armenia will be reimbursed 100% of the agreed travel cost.
18+ week participants get a stipend starting at the 18 week mark: The monthly stipend of 60,000 AMD is paid on a monthly basis once a participant has completed 18 weeks of service. The stipend is payable up to a maximum of one year from the start of volunteer service date.
Summer Months: In the summer months of June, July and August, participants must complete their volunteer service outside Yerevan, if they wish to be eligible for the travel fellowship. If a participant is staying long term, and volunteers an additional 14 weeks outside of these summer months (spring or fall), he/she may opt to stay in Yerevan even during the summer. Several of our sponsored volunteer organizations have options to serve outside Yerevan. It is up to the individual applicant to discuss with their sponsored volunteer organization if they have placements outside Yerevan in order to satisfy this requirement.
One Fellowship per person: Participants shall not have previously received a travel fellowship from Birthright Armenia. Former participants who were not eligible for a travel fellowship may choose to be repeat participants and upon completion of the travel fellowship requirements, receive a travel fellowship
Early arrivers: Participants who are already in country when accepted into the program will be eligible for only half the relevant roundtrip airfare.
Applicants who meet ALL of the criteria above are considered eligible for a travel fellowship, and may check the "Eligible" box on top of the online application form.
B. WHILE IN ARMENIA: While in Armenia, there are four requirements that participants must meet in order to maintain travel fellowship eligibility. They are as follows:
- Basic Proficiency in Armenian
- Participation in the Forums and Havaks
- Continuing Involvement Proposal
1. Language Proficiency - Participants must either demonstrate or acquire minimum communication skills in Armenian to assure that their volunteer and living experience is fulfilling. The steps are as follows:
- Online language tutorial prior to arrival in Armenia, if the applicant has marginal proficiency
- In-country language immersion, participation in classes 4 hours per week
- Post-service verbal language assessment in order to show language proficiency
2. Participation in the Orientation, Forums and Havaks
- Orientation (full day) on basic Birthright Armenia requirements, introductions and background information pertaining to placements, practical advice on how to get the most out of the program and coverage of emergency and policy procedures.
· Forums and Havaks
Havaks are informal gatherings, sometimes with the participation of local youth, during which Birthright Armenia participants share experiences, mutually problem solve, discuss their feelings and ask questions of each other. Havaks are held at the BR/Depi Hayk offices as well as outdoor venues, and volunteers are expected to attend a minimum of 50% of organized havaks.
b. Forum sessions with guest specialists in areas of special interest including: Armenia's economic and cultural development, the business sector, the environment, healthcare, politics, education, etc.. The forum series consists of presentations at our offices, and visits to other venues. Volunteers are expected to attend a minimum of 50% of organized forums.
- Each participant must complete a minimum of 30 hours per week of volunteer work at their place of internship, plus periodic participation in joint volunteer Community Service Projects.
4. Continuing Involvement Proposal
- The experience is Armenia is meant to serve as a basis
for life-long commitment to Armenian affairs. In that context, each
participant must submit a 1-2 page proposal on how he/she intends to stay
continually involved in Armenia affairs, whether in Armenia or in the
Diaspora. The proposal must be a realistic, sustainable and achievable
roadmap for the volunteer's post-experience phase. It could involve taking
on an active volunteer or leadership role within an Armenian organization
or within their community, initiating community activism and awareness, or
continued direct involvement in the development of Armenia. The proposal
must not be a one time event, rather a foundation for long-term
Birthright Armenia participants waive any and all claims against BRA and any of its partner organizations. Participants are responsible for their own health and travel insurance. All participants are required to enroll in and pay for local medical insurance arranged through the INGO Insurance Company at a cost of 5000 AMD per month. BR/DH staff will make all the proper arrangements for your enrollment. This plan covers in-country medical emergencies and unexpected medical needs only, and does not include evacuation costs or out-of-country treatments. Each participant agrees to abide by the rules and regulations of BRA and its partner organizations and understands that BRA and its partner organizations reserve the right to terminate the participation of any participant whose behavior does not conform with its standards.
TRAVEL FELLOWSHIP REIMBURSEMENT POLICY:
The following travel fellowship policies must be followed by all participants:
- Upon official acceptance into Birthright Armenia, all participants must obtain airline ticket price quotes from the list of preferred travel agents sent to them by Birthright Armenia. Participants may also submit additional quotes from other sources. After reviewing the quotes, Birthright Armenia will give directions to make the final ticket purchase. Tickets bought without prior approval or by other means will not be reimbursed.
- Birthright Armenia will reimburse the participant for the price of an economy class round trip ticket (city of residence to Yerevan), but not to exceed the average cost of comparable tickets for that journey at that time. Each geographic region has a maximum cap on ticket prices.
- Birthright Armenia reimburses only the equivalent roundtrip airfare, and does not reimburse additional costs for itineraries that include extended, optional and additional stopovers, or flight insurance.
- Birthright Armenia does not reimburse for flight insurance or excess baggage costs.
- In an effort to keep costs down, we require that tickets be booked within 5 days of receiving the welcome letter, and no later than four weeks prior to departure. If there is any increase in the average cost of the ticket due to a less than four week prior purchase, the volunteer will be expected to pay for the difference.
- All itineraries must be scheduled to include an additional week for orientation, start of internship service, and debrief.
- After arrival in Armenia, the participant will submit an official travel itinerary, including an official invoice for the amount paid. Upon completing all terms and requirements, Birthright Armenia will reimburse the participant within 6-8 weeks.
- Participants who are already in country when accepted into the program will be eligible for only half the relevant roundtrip airfare.