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Nineh Bidroosian
Iran 2023 participant
12 Mar, 2024

A Journey of Volunteering, Friendship, and Cultural Immersion

4 min read

Moving to Armenia

I had always visited Armenia for vacations. Little did I anticipate that one day, I would make the bold decision to live here. The initial days proved challenging, navigating a new chapter in my life without the familiar comfort of friends and family. Loneliness, an unfamiliar companion, settled in – a feeling I was not accustomed to.

Then, a turning point emerged. In conversation with my cousin, she introduced me to Birthright Armenia and suggested I give them a call. Intrigued by the possibility of connecting with others who shared my passion for this beautiful country, experiencing working in my field of study, I took the leap. Little did I know that this simple suggestion would open the door to a network of friendships, turning my solo venture into a shared journey filled with camaraderie and newfound connections.

A new chapter of my life

After my cousin’s introduction, I considered the possibility of meeting like-minded people who shared the same sense of loving Armenia and wanted to experience a life in our homeland not as a tourist. Despite my initial concerns about securing a job or an opportunity aligned with my studies, I decided to confront that fear and sign up. Once I enrolled as a volunteer with Birthright Armenia, they promptly invited me for a personal interview. I felt a wave of stress before the meeting, but as soon as I engaged in conversation with them, my anxiety melted away. That interview focused on my interests, education, accommodation preferences, and where I wanted to volunteer, either in Yerevan or Gyumri. Through our discussion, they determined the ideal placement for my volunteering experience. Which I am grateful for.

New experiences

My job site was Country Water Partnership Armenia, they are representative of the international network of Global Water Partnership in Armenia. The Global Water Partnership is a global action network with over 3000 partner organizations in 179 countries.

My job site has the best atmosphere; It feels like home. We have a 1-hour break for lunch, which is the greatest part. Since I didn’t live with my host family, I tasted new Armenian popular foods there. Lunch times were fun because all colleagues would gather and eat together, discussing different topics from politics, and traditions to funny childhood memories. We also celebrated our colleague's birthday with cake and wine. In Armenia, each workplace has a gathering called ‘Corporative’ which is held before the New Year holiday to say goodbye to the old year and prepare for the next year. We ate ‘Khorovax’, drank homemade wine and a lot of toasts were made.

As the youngest person there, everyone specially treated me to make me feel comfortable as I’m home not in a different country far away from my family.

At first, deciphering Armenian seemed like a daunting task, and comprehending the language felt like navigating a maze of complexity. Reading and understanding were initially challenging, almost to the point of being terrifying, despite my proficiency in speaking and reading Armenian. However, after just 3-4 days, a remarkable transformation occurred. The once bewildering language gradually unfolded its secrets, and what was once an enthralling struggle turned into a captivating journey of linguistic discovery.

At my workplace, we're fortunate to have a charming garden adorned with numerous trees. As December unfolded, a gentle snowfall blanketed the entire garden, transforming it into a serene winter wonderland. For someone who harbors a deep affection for snow, witnessing the garden draped in a pristine white layer felt like a dream come true. The sheer beauty of the snow-covered landscape was a breathtaking sight, turning an ordinary day at the office into a magical experience.

Forums, Havaks, and Optional Gatherings

During my volunteering, we visited various educational places such as the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, Matenadaran, and the Komitas Museum. It was fascinating to discover that, alongside its rich historical sites, Armenia boasts specialized centers for children's development. At the Komitas Museum, I learned about our famous writers from the past, and at Matenadaran, I explored the vibrant herbs for colors and medicine traditionally used by the Armenian people, examining books from ancient doctors and manuscripts.

We also engaged in enriching discussions, like the Roundtable With Repats, where we learned about their experiences, fears, enthusiasm, and how they decided to stay in Armenia and embark on new lives.

One notable experience was an Optional Havak, where one of our alumnae screened a movie titled 'The Line.' This emotionally charged film depicted the days of the Artsakh war in the 1990s, offering a profound exploration of real love, genuine friendship, and most importantly unwavering love for Armenian lands.

We played Secret Santa as it was close to the New Year, and it was a lot of fun.

As I approached the end of my volunteering journey, I was reminded of an impressive statement from the Birthright staff that I heard and felt from the very first day: 'We are a family; wherever you need us, we are there for you, and we are here to assist you on your self-discovery journey, and why not, cheer you up to come back again.



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