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: .

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"I didn’t expect to find an exact fit"

Dawn Huckelbridge

I came to Armenia with few expectations. I knew I was eager to immerse myself in the culture and learn as much as I could, especially since I had not previously had a great deal of connection with my heritage. I knew I wanted to try my hand at learning the language, that I hoped to work with community based organizations, and that I wanted to conduct some of my own applied research to try and better understand the political and social environment. Beyond that, I didn’t really know what to expect and what, if anything, I could effectively offer.

After two weeks in the country, this experience has met and far exceeded any expectations I had. My professional and academic background is in gender and policy, particularly women’s empowerment and political leadership. I didn’t expect to find an exact fit for my interests and skills in terms of my work placements, but AVC managed to do just that. I’m currently splitting my time between the International Center for Human Development and the Women’s Resource Center Armenia.

Coincidentally, the week that I started work at ICHD, they were drafting a proposal for a project to promote women’s leadership within the national political parties. I immediately jumped into the project, using some of the research I had done prior to my arrival and also resources from my Master’s thesis. I was able to provide the written rationale for the project, which was submitted this week, and if it receives funding I’ll be able 9to take part in its implementation. The Women’s Resource Center has been equally gratifying. During my first week, the Center was holding a press conference to discuss their work to amend sexual violence legislation in Armenia. I asked if I could help with international press outreach, and was able to connect the organization with Trust Law, a division of the Reuters Foundation providing pro bono legal assistance and press for women’s rights initiatives. Trust Law is now writing a feature story on the Women’s Resource Center and their work and wants to offer legal resources. Additionally, I’m able to use some of my skills in strategic planning and development to work with the Center on monitoring and evaluation, planning, fundraising and outreach.

These projects have fit perfectly within my own professional niche and have afforded me the opportunity to build my technical skills and experience and also to actively take part in the work being done here. On top of this, I’ve continued my independent research on gender and political systems in Armenia, which has been fascinating and really enjoyable - everywhere I go I meet interesting people who can contribute and are eager to speak with me over coffee. I hope to continue this research when I return home to the States, and to do what I can to continue my relationship and work with the organizations and activist movements here.

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