Armenian Volunteer Corps

Welcome to the Armenian Volunteer Corps (AVC) blog. Here our volunteers and alumni reflect on their experiences living and volunteering in Armenia. For more information about our programs, visit our website, follow us on Facebook or drop us an email: .

Monday, February 01, 2010

Back in New York

Tracy Serdjenian
New York, USA

I’ve actually been back in the United States for over a month and now I am finally writing! I am still thinking of the last few months in Armenia, and the people I met there, all the time…

I was in Armenia, for my first (but not last) time this fall. I split my time in Yerevan as an AVC volunteer between two organizations: Counterpart International Armenia and Women’s Resource Center Armenia. They happen to be right near each other, on the same street, which made my life easy. These volunteer placements were a great fit for me because both organizations related to my educational, professional, and personal interests – my background is in sociology, social work, and community organizing. Working at two organizations allowed me to do different kinds of work and meet a lot of wonderful people.

As part of Counterpart Armenia’s Civic Advocacy Support Program (CASP), which works to improve democratic governance, support the development of local NGOs, and expand civic participation, I worked primarily on the organization’s community development manual, editing portions of it, assessing what additional content might enhance it, and then developing an action plan and creating a list of resources to guide future work on the manual. I also reviewed reports on climate change to explore how community development and advocacy could be integrated into climate change mitigation and adaptation work. Additionally, I ate a serious amount of cake. At Counterpart, it seemed that almost every day was someone’s birthday, or they just got married, or had a child or something – which was fabulous, because whatever the occasion, it meant CAKE!

At the Women’s Resource Center, I worked with another volunteer to organize and facilitate a discussion group (in English) around issues impacting women. It was really interesting to be a part of the exchange of perspectives and experiences between women who had lived in different countries (Armenia, United States, Georgia, and France) while supporting people who wanted to practice speaking English. I also helped organize and prepare for, and participated in, a variety of events around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. I put up stickers with information about violence against women throughout the city, took part in a peaceful protest/march and candlelight vigil/open mic event, and gathered anti-violence posters from around the world for an art exhibit and film screening event.

People sometimes say that through volunteer work you get back more than you give. My experience working as an AVC volunteer was really special in that way, because while I contributed to the work of each of these organizations, I received so much more in terms of my own learning and also, most importantly, relationships. Being an AVC volunteer really allowed me to be a part of something in Yerevan. It was very meaningful to me that volunteer work wasn’t completely separate from the rest of my life in Armenia. I spent time with co-workers outside of work, and Counterpart co-workers, fellow Birthright/AVC volunteers, and other friends took part in Women’s Resource Center events and activities, which was so exciting. Even though I am back in New York, through these experiences and relationships, I feel more connected to Armenia now, and it doesn’t feel quite so far away anymore.

PS I kissed Sokho.

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  • At 11:09 PM, March 31, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Did you live with a host family or made your own housing arangements¸in Yerevan?


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