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, June 29, 2006

Makur Yerevan

Below, Argam demonstrates a perfect "Before" and "After"...

Seeing all the trash all over Yerevan sparks something in an individual. Growing up in the States, society teaches you to not liter and to care for your communities cleanliness. Participating in Markur Yerevan made it possible for us Diasporans, in combination with native Armenians, to help in the cleaning of the streets of our home country. It felt good to see the streets of Yerevan clean after lugging out bags and bags of trash and seeing the locals applaud our efforts and promise not to liter. I know that if more locals see that others are contributing to a clean Yereven they too will be inspired to do the same and therefore have a clean capital that we can be proud of.

AVC Takes Action Against the Recall of Ambassador Evans

The AVC teamed up with over 150 activists on June 28th under the TV screen in Republic Square to protests the recall of the American Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans. Evans' recall is the result of his comments a year ago verifying the Armenian Genocide, which Evans defended as a historical fact that cannot be debated, despite increasing Turkish denial of the event. Evans' comments are currently out of line with US Policy, which fails to recogize the First Genocide of the 20th Century.

Volunteers gathered in the Square and lit candles, performing a largely silent protest that lit up their corner of the square and attracted the attention of news agencies, onlookers, and many tourists staying at the Armenia Marriot Hotel.

The protest was staged at 10pm in Yerevan, to coincide with the beginning of the US Senate confirmation hearings of Ambassador Evans' replacement in Washington DC (2pm EST). Photographs of the event in Armenia were quickly emailed to collaborators in Washington and projected on a screen outside the hearings, where other protesters stood with yellow tape covering their mouths.

The yellow candles and tape were representative of the Yellow Ribbon Campaign, which was started by Mr. Edward Balasanian as a campaign against the silencing of the Armenian Genocide. Mr. Balasanian spoke briefly about the campaign and the Ambassador at the protest, which lasted roughly an hour. A special thanks to all the volunteers who showed up to support Ambassador Evans.

You can read more and view more pictures here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

AVC Monthly Meeting

The AVC held its monthly meeting on June 9th. Among things covered, the new volunteers met each other and were introduced to Anoush and AVC Board Member Tom Samuelian. Anoush talked about work sites and what to expect from working at different organizations in Yerevan.

Volunteers then had a screening of several films either made by AVC volunteers, or by organizations that AVC volunteers work with. The line-up included a promotional video for Hieffer International filmed and produced by Sophie Malkasian (2005), a series of short films produced and directed by the children of the Manana Youth Organization where Julie Couston worked (2006), a documentary film about the destruction of Armenian Khatchkars in Naxichevan produced by RAA where Raffi Kortushian volunteers (2006), and a marketing video directed and produced by Anoush Tatevossian (2004) for Bars Media.

AVC in the News

The AVC's efforts in the Russian xenophobia protest on June 5th was cited in a recent news article outlining meetings between Armenian President Robert Kocharian and a representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The protest can be considered a success, as the Armenian government has stepped up diplomatic pressure with Russia to be proactive about the xenophobia issue. Thanks to all those who took part in the event.

You can view the article on

Also check out this article on Hetq Online.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Nick Bazarian

Name: Nick Bazarian
Age: 21
Hometown: Quechee, Vermont
Boston, Mass
Herndon, Virginia

Started with AVC: February 14th, 2006
Worksites: USAID Armenia Legislative Strengthening Program
Armenia Tourism Development Agency/Information Center
Taught English with Mary Keyork

Currently I am working for AVC. I was supposed to leave Armenia in May, but instead took a mini vacation in Europe and came back. I love it here, not so much Yerevan, but all the people I have met since I came in February. Traveling this country is incredible as well. Each region is so diverse, yet so close that one could see half the country in one day and feel like you went to four different continents. I would love to start and adventure/ski touring company here someday...

If you come here, make sure you get out of the city and stay with people in a village at some point. This is where you will truly learn about life in Armenia, because ultimately Yerevan is just like any other city. Learn about people's struggles, joys, and teach them about life in your own country. Learn to drink like an Armenian as well.

AVC Protests Against Racism in Russia

The AVC joined other protesters on Monday, June 5th in front of the Russian Embassy in Yerevan to protest the recent and ongoing killings of Armenians and other foreign peoples in Russia during the last half year. Over the last month, 3 Armenians were killed by skinhead groups in the Moscow metro area. In total, there were around 100 people gathered in the street in front of the embassy, many holding signs saying "STOP". This was a major press event, and many volunteers were interviewed by news agencies. The volunteers described their irritation and anger towards the killings, which they claim Russian officials aren't doing enough to deter. After the rally, protesters marched to the Armenian Foreign Ministry in Republic Square. The protest was considered a success, as this was the first organized resistance of Armenians to the killings.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Maral & Sayat Arslanlioglu

Name: Maral & Sayat Arslanlioglu
Age: 32 and 36
Hometown: Istanbul
Started AVC Service: April 2006
Worksite: Armenia Tree Project & Armenian Forests NGO

We have had the great experience of working with these organizations through AVC, for the reforestation of our beautiful Armenia. We have planted trees and worked in the tree nurseries in several vilages. AVC has also made the arrangement for volunteers to join community tree planting activities in various weekends.

Our experience in Armenia was unparalleled. We met best people and we saw best sceneries there. Each tree is a new hope for the future of Armenia and we have seen many hopes planted for that paradise country.

Both Armenia Tree Project and Armenian Forests NGO are excellent organizations who do wonderful work to reforest Armenia, which has a very critical level of 8% of forests today. Together with AVC, they made every effort to make our volunteering experience a fruitful and pleasant one.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Mary Keyork

Name: Mary Keyork
Age: 23
Hometown: Montreal, Canada
Started AVC volunteer service: February 2006

Work sites:

Bridge of hope wich is a non-governemental organisation and its main goal is to promote the inclusion of chidren with disabilities in our society (

Armenian Legislative Strengthening Program (ALSP) is run by USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and its main objective is to improve democratic governance.

I also conducted english conversational classes with another AVC volunteer, Nick Bazarian.

My experience in Armenia was phenomenal and I will never forget it!! I have never felt more proud of being Armenian! I met the most amazing people and I saw some of the most breathtaking sceneries of my life.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

AVC Spring Community Projects

In addition to their daily work-sites, AVC volunteers undertake community projects. Where contributions and changes are made slowly but surely through day to day interactions at job-sites, Community Projects provide a chance for volunteers to make a difference in Armenia outside the scope of their primary job site and work together with local Armenians and other volunteers to realize larger-scale and ongoing projects.


April 14th & 16th:
AVC Volunteers gathered to try their hand at traditional Easter egg dying by utilizing onion peels. On Easter Sunday, AVC volunteers and alumni passed out the Easter eggs to the community at Katoghike, a neighborhood church in downtown Yerevan.

April 23rd and on April 30th:
AVC Volunteers joined Nig-Aparan’s Tsaradoong 2006 (Tree Plant 2006). The goal of this ambitious project is to plant 3 million trees; one for each citizen in Armenia. AVC participated in plantings both in Gegharkunik Marz in Shirak Marz.

April 29th:
Six AVC volunteers traveled to Kotayk village east of Yerevan to plant trees with members of Armenian Forests NGO and IREX alumni. In total, over 300 apricot trees were planted by volunteers on an open hillside overlooking the rolling hills of Kotayk Marz. The site is one of multiple locations within the area designated for reforestation activities, according to Armenian Forests NGO President Jeffrey Tufenkian.

May 27th:
Together with IREX alumni (Armenian students who have participated in study-abroad programs to the US in high school or college), AVC volunteers joined Habitat for Humanity in its mission of constructing affordable housing for low income families. Habitat’s “Global Village” Project encourages a sense of ownership by coordinating the building of affordable housing homeowners themselves, families who invest their own labor into building their home, and those of their neighbors.

AVC and IREX volunteers helped to spread gravel in the roof of Kegham Hovhannisyan's new house for insulation. The work which was accomplished in several hours would have taken the family 1-2 full days. As Gohar Palyan, Volunteer Program Manager of Habitat expressed, the volunteers “came to help this family without knowing them and made difference in their lives.”

May 28th:
AVC and Birthright Armenia volunteers volunteered their time and muscles to Pyunic Armenian Center for Disabled by partaking in its 16th annual marathon. The marathon is part of Pyunic’s public education efforts to raise awareness about disabled people in Armenia and encouraging the society to welcome them. Samuel, Jason, Karine and Raffi were among the 60+ participants who took part in this 22 kilometer (13.75 miles) marathon from Opera Square to the Holy Sea of Etchmiadzin. The volunteers were astounded by the strength and endurance of the participants with handicaps as such a distance is no small feat even without a disability. The volunteers assisted by pushing the athletes in wheelchairs if they became too tired along the way.