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, August 02, 2010

When Nothing Else Could Possibly Go Wrong

Kristene Ghazarian

Deciding to come to Armenia was a decision I didn’t have to think much about. Having had a sister who had come to volunteer here the previous year and hearing her stories I knew it was only a matter of time before I jumped on a plane to come here myself. I flew into this country with no expectations other then that of making great friends and learning as much about Armenia as I could. With only high hopes for a great time its safe to say that my first week in Gyumri made the only thing I was expecting, impossible. Having had traveled before and experienced other cultures I thought nothing could possibly go wrong and cause me to not have the time of my life. Well my first week here really made me question my ability to overcome obstacles. Just about 3 hours after meeting my homestay family I returned to my new room to see that I had ten missed calls from back home. It only took one phone call back to learn that my grandma, the woman who brought me into this world, had just passed away. This news tore me apart, not only was I trying to feel comfortable in a new home with a new family in new city in a completely different country, I felt guilty for not being back home with her for her last few days. I didn’t know who to turn to for comfort and all I could do was cry.

After my grandma’s death I truly believed nothing else could go wrong to make my experience here more difficult, that is until my first day at my job site when I got attacked by a dog. Not being scared of dogs and not thinking much of it, I had to be persuaded to go to the hospital where I was told that the bite was actually a lot worse then I expected and I could possibly have rabies. To add to my already difficult week, this news was not taken easily. At this point I believed it was a complete mistake coming here and had no idea what I was suppose to do now. Feeling defeated and confused with diminishing hope of ever being able to have a good time, I received multiple phone calls from other volunteers calling to see how I was. With their help it didn’t take me long to realize that I needed to change my attitude and think positively. I wasn’t going to let a few puncture wounds get in my way of achieving why I had come to Armenia in the first place, especially knowing that would not be what my grandma would want. After a few changes I finally was able to start experiencing the real Gyumri.

Everyone faces challenges when entering a new environment, some bigger then others, but the importance of staying positive truly saved me from potentially having the most difficult two months of my life. Its been four weeks since all this has happened and not only will I return home with scars that will forever remind me of this unique experience but also friends that will leave a lasting impact in my life, and for that I wouldn’t change a single thing.

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