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Lynette Israilian
Canada participant
10 Sep, 2021

When Canada meets Armenia

2 min read

I decided to volunteer with Birthright Armenia in a spur-of-the-moment type situation. Within a few weeks of applying, I suddenly found myself in a new country, not knowing what to expect. As a Canadian-Armenian having grown up in Montreal, I had been surrounded by the culture my whole life, and yet I still had doubts about how I would feel in the motherland. Within the first week of walking down Tumanyan and Saryan streets, most of my fears suddenly vanished. Hearing Armenian all around me, smelling Khorovats and constantly being offered food made me feel right at home.


Volunteering in Armenia 


Where I truly felt a deep connection with Armenia was at Khor Virap and at Yerablur. Seeing what our country has given up lit a fire in me; I don’t think I’ve ever been so motivated to give back to my homeland and help strengthen its foundations. I had the opportunity and privilege to volunteer at Orran, a children’s center for vulnerable kids and on a scientific study at the Arabkir Medical Center. This was the first step in building meaningful relationships in Armenia and using my skills to contribute to the country’s growth. 

The social interactions increased my appreciation for this beautiful country. As a person with endless food allergies, I had prepared a list of questions to ask in restaurants in Eastern Armenian and had even translated it into Russian. Very often, as I sat down and started giving my speech, I ended up having fun encounters and conversations with the locals. What usually started with “Oh gosh, what have you been eating in Armenia?” usually ended with sharing life stories and being told that I was welcome back any time for some delicious allergy-free food. Who knew allergies could be such conversation starters! 

For an introvert propelling herself out of her comfort zone, this was quite truly the most life-changing experience. I urge you to come to Armenia with Birthright, not only to give back through volunteering, but to also forge strong new relationships with some of the purest and most passionate people you will meet.

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