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: .

Friday, July 22, 2011

Finding Myself Through Volunteering

Ani Ishkhanian

Working in Armenia for AVC was a very personal transition for me. I had the pleasure of volunteering in Yerevan for three months and I don’t regret a single moment (as cliché as that sounds, one cannot escape from using it because it is the ultimate truth). I was placed at Ghoghanj Children’s Center and was looking forward to my time there, even though I kept reminding myself to not have any expectations. I went in on my first day with a blank mental canvas. I was sitting in the office and was waiting for my supervisor, until a little girl tip toed inside the room and began to speak Russian, thinking I will reciprocate. That’s when this little girl, Olya, entered my Yerevan life and I got my rough introduction to this little wonder of a place called Ghoghanj.

Volunteering at this center was the most interesting month-to-month transition I have ever encountered. My first month was the most challenging and stressful. I had all the common worries anybody might have. You hope to make a difference in people’s lives, you hope to be good at what you’re doing, you hope to not bore the children, you hope the kids like you, and then some. It was like being thrown into the wolves with no preparation whatsoever, and I cannot think of a better way to learn. An experience like this makes one incredibly resilient.

Next thing I knew it was my second month living in Yerevan and working at Ghoghanj. A new challenge proposed itself everyday along with old challenges, which was great because it gave me a chance to retry methods and learn from my mistakes. Again, that resilience. At this point I also started working at another site, a contemporary art NGO called Utopiana. Both of these jobsites were completely different worlds. Everyday I would go from a calm, work at your own pace environment (Utopiana) to absolute chaos (Ghoghanj), I loved the polar opposite worlds. It gave me a chance to experience firsthand different businesses and how locals would deal with specific issues.

As my third and final month trickled in I began to get much more comfortable with my abilities. I realized that I would not see the people I became close with at work everyday, all the mixed emotions naturally led me to self reflect. The amount I learned working at these places could not be summed up with an article. The entire experience has been awakening, inspirational, emotional, stressful, and incredible. AVC gave me an opportunity to figure myself out while being completely selfless. That in and of itself is an incredible gift. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and I’m so happy and proud that I was able to do it.

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