How it All Works
The typical Birthright Armenia experience has three phases:
- Pre-country: On-line Eastern Armenian language training to achieve a basic level of proficiency, application to and acceptance into any one of the sponsored internship programs.
- In-country: Volunteer service and participation in the training and education programs, during which participants gain insight into Armenia's potential and the ways they and other diasporans can be part of Armenia's future.
- Post-country: Continued exposure and involvement in community and organizational activities, assisting and facilitating alumni speaking forums to inspire future participants, promoting Armenian economic, cultural ties, strengthening diasporan Armenian organizations and community life.
WHEN YOU DECIDE TO APPLY:
1. Apply to a Birthright Armenia Sponsored Internship Program. You must first select and apply to an internship organization, the one that is responsible for planning you volunteer service in Armenia (i.e. the Armenian Volunteer Corps). See the complete list here.
2. Apply to Birthright Armenia. This online application may be filled before or after you complete step #1, above. You will note on your application which internship program you have selected. Once you are accepted into that Program, Birthright Armenia will automatically accept you as its participant, making you eligible for all of its benefits. Remember that the travel fellowship is reimbursed only after all of the requirements are successfully met.
3. Host Family Living Opportunities. 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.
4. 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.
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 get 50% of the agreed travel cost. This could be achieved by selecting a sponsored internship program that lasts a minimum of nine weeks, or if that program runs shorter, by applying to Birthright Armenia for an internship Add-on satisfy the minimum stay requirement. Check the Volunteer Internship Opportunities page for details on each program.14-week minimum for a 100% travel fellowship: Participants, who complete 14 weeks of volunteer service in Armenia, will get 100% of the agreed travel costs covered. This could be achieved by selecting a sponsored internship program that lasts a minimum of nine weeks, or if that program runs shorter, by applying to Birthright Armenia for an internship Add-on satisfy the minimum stay requirement. Check the Volunteer Internship Opportunities page for details on each program.
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.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 their travel fellowship eligibility. They are as follows:
- Language Certificate
- Training and Education Certificate
- Internship Service Certificate
- Continuing Involvement Proposal
1. Language Proficiency Certificate - 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:
- On-line pretest prior to travel
- Those who score less than 80% on the on-line pretest must register and complete the on-line preparatory course before arrival in Armenia (for those who score higher, the on-line course is recommended, but optional)
- In-country oral test - everyone must take this test of oral proficiency upon arrival in Armenia
- In-country language instruction (5 hours per week) as needed, mandatory for those scoring less than 80% on the oral test. An In-country oral test at the end of the participant's stay will gauge proficiency. This final test must be passed in order to retain travel reimbursement eligibility.
2. Training and Education Certificate
- Orientation (half 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.
- Havaks and Forums
a. 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.
3. Internship Service Certificate
- 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 projects (i.e. a Saturday spent cleaning up Yerevan through the "Makur Yerevan" project with indigenous NGOs) during their time in Armenia.
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 participation.
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 does not reimburse 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 for a minimum of 9 weeks, to allow for sufficient time for orientation and start of internship service
- 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.