1. Why have you decided to participate in Birthright? What expectations did you have in the beginning?
My participation in the Birthright Armenia program was organized by chance, I must admit. Due to the sanitary situation in France, the hotels I work for were forced to close this winter. I saw this situation as an opportunity to put this "forced free time" to use. I grew up in a small provincial town where the Armenian community was not really represented. It is therefore as I grew up, and especially in view of recent/current events, that I felt the need to be surrounded by Armenians, by my peers. Birthright Armenia was therefore an obvious way to (re)connect with Armenia.
2. How did your knowledge brought from France help you here at your volunteering site?
When I received an email announcing my volunteering place I was pleasantly surprised that Narine and Lilit found me a place in my field.
I was very much looking forward to discovering the hotel and tourism business in Armenia. Since I was a child, I have always been intrigued by the world of hotels, so I wanted to know more about what goes on behind the scenes, about those little hands behind the scenes that make the customer's stay a unique and timeless moment.
Thanks to my parents' support, I was lucky enough to enter one of the most prestigious schools in the hotel industry: the Ecole Hôtelier de Lausanne, in Switzerland. During these four years, mixing practical courses, theoretical courses and internships abroad (Morocco, Canada), I developed my team spirit, my flexibility and my ability to adapt quickly to new environments while working with people from different cultures and backgrounds. It is therefore because of my multi-cultural background and my studies in the field of tourism and hospitality that my integration into my volunteering place went smoothly.
I am very happy and grateful that BR allowed me to immerse myself in the local hotel industry and to create a professional network in Armenia.
3. What was new to you? What did you add to your knowledge base by participating in Birthright?
I was lucky enough to be part of a brand new project because when I arrived the hotel was not yet open to the public.
So I was able to take part in the pre-opening training like all the rest of the reception team. So I followed the same preparation as any other employee, immersion guaranteed!
Training on software, group standards, role play ... everything was in Armenian. This was one of my biggest challenges as I had no knowledge of the technical vocabulary in Armenian, but it was also the best way to improve my understanding of the language.
Through this experience, I can say that I stepped out of my comfort zone professionally, as it was the first time I participated in the opening of a hotel, I used different software than the ones I am used to utilizing it. In addition, this hotel, with more than a hundred rooms, is part of a hotel group with an international reputation, whereas in France I work for a family group.
Having been confronted with many new things, this experience has allowed me to enrich my knowledge and thus acquire skills that I will be able to put into practice throughout my professional life.