It has always been one of my greatest wishes to improve my Armenian. I wanted to use this chance when I finished my studies and travel to Armenia for a longer period to fulfill this wish though I was already taking private Armenian language classes for some basic knowledge. After I decided to spend a longer time in Armenia, I came across various organizations and possibilities and found Birthright Armenia. I quickly noticed that there were already some alumni from Birthright Armenia in my community who recommended me to apply.
I wanted to use the knowledge and skills I had gained from my studies and previous jobs to benefit Armenia as well as to get to know the Armenian lifestyle and the Armenian professional life better. I also wanted to network with other Armenians from all over the world. I was already part of another organization in Armenia in 2013, met many people from other countries there, and had a great time with them. I wanted to repeat this experience.
My Birthright Armenia Experience
The biggest highlight was getting to know Armenia, not only from the perspective of a tourist but also from a local resident. Getting a different insight into real Armenian life and culture, as well as meeting locals and other Diaspora Armenians have been such a rewarding experience. I loved seeing and enjoying nature and surroundings through excursions in Armenia.
The people in Armenia are all very warm and hospitable, so I had no difficulty integrating into the team at my volunteer placement and networking with my colleagues. In addition, two young girls my age work at my job, which means that I also spend time with my peers from time to time and we enjoy our lunch breaks together. Furthermore, I quickly made contacts in the organization. Through havaks and forums, you quickly get to know new people with whom you also spend time after the events, for example by going out to eat together. You should just introduce yourself to the group and join a group that plans to do something together after these events. Through the excursions, you get to know many new people, with whom you become friends after a short time and then also meet during your lunch breaks at work. I can say that I have met great people here who became good friends. Since my group of Birthright Armenia friends comes from Germany’s neighboring countries, it will also be easy to maintain contact and visit each other after my volunteering experience.
Meeting the locals
Before joining Birthright Armenia, I knew some locals from Armenia whom I contacted to meet. I had the opportunity to get in touch with locals at my work and spend time with them. It already became a habit to approach people and talk to them about daily life. I have brief chats with my neighbors every morning or evening. Even while shopping at the supermarket or taking a cab, I delve into deep conversations almost every day. I talk to the cab drivers and make small talk with them. My Armenian is not perfect, and I still make grammatical mistakes, but I try to have a conversation with everyone I meet to improve my Armenian. Depending on the dialect of the other person, I find it harder or easier to do so. However, I have learned that it is important to try to start a conversation even if my Armenian is not the best.
Advice to Future Volunteers
In my personal life, I will be able to use the Armenian language better and use it in conversations with my family. Because I met many new people from the diaspora through this program, and I made friends from all over the world. Therefore, if I want to work in or from Armenia, I can do so with the help of Birthright Armenia as a program alumna. In addition, I have to say that through this experience of living abroad I was able to further develop my knowledge of not only Armenian but also English, as well as became more independent in my way of working. Because if sometimes you are stuck due to language barriers, you have to know how to help yourself.
Overall, Birthright Armenia was a wonderful experience that I recommend to everyone. THANK YOU to the whole team!