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 14, 2007

Planting trees

In the summer of 2006, I decided that it was time to put my career as a teacher on hold and complete one of my life long goals: to work and live in Armenia. I was able to fulfill my dream in January of 2007 with the help of the Armenian Volunteer Corps. AVC placed me with Armenian Forests NGO. With a background in Environmental Studies, previous non-profit work, and an appreciation and love for the great outdoors, I felt like this was the right place for me to contribute to the future health and growth of Armenia.
Armenia is witnessing the rapid loss of precious forest cover. This loss of forests contributes to many problems that are connected to the social and economic well being of Armenia. These problems include: loss of biodiversity and fertile topsoil used for farming, mudslides, floods, change in local climate, desertification, economic hardship caused by the loss of wild plants and herbs, and increased air pollution. The World Bank estimates that if the current rate of deforestation continues, Armenia's forests will disappear in 20 years.
Armenian Forests NGO is an Armenian based non-profit organization that has a broad approach to protecting and restoring the natural environment in Armenia, including hands on reforestation, environmental policy, enforcement, awareness-raising, advocacy, and civic participation. Armenian Forests NGO has been reponsible for various projects such as restoration of 702 ha (1735 acres) of forests (1, 150,350 trees) through planting and coppicing as of the end of 2006.
I had the opportunity to work with Armenian Forests for 4 months. In that time, I researched potential funding opportunities for a reforestation project on Ara Mountain and created a date base for future reference. In addition, Armenian Forests was published on the website. is an organization that gives big corporations an opportunity to donate money to environmental organizations in order to offset their carbon emissions. I was able to foster dialogue between Armenian Forests and which is a similar organization that deals with carbon offsetting. with the help of Armenian Forests, is looking to plant between 30,000-100,000 trees in Armenian using money from the Dell Corporation to offset their computer waste in Asia. We are keeping our fingers crossed on that project!
During my 4 months in Armenia, I had the pleasure to work with knowledgeable, hard working, and passionate people. The staff at Armenian Forests NGO is dedicated to helping the future of Armenia and it was an inspiration to be around such positive, energetic, and hopeful people. I learned many things from the talented staff. Furthermore, being able to meet Diasporan Armenians who share the same enthusiasm was truly an inspirational experience. I leave Armenia with added knowledge, friendships, a hope for a great country, and an unforgettable experience that will stick with me for years to come.

Websites you can refer to for more information:

Karen Kazanci winter/spring 2007 28, Long Beach, California

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

AVC Volunteer oversees Hospital Renovation

AVC volunteer Joe Levonian from Australia worked for 9 months at the Pediatric Hematology Hospital of Armenia. Noticing the unsanitary and dilapidated conditions of the Hospital, Joe decided to fund raise in order to undertake renovations which would make the facilities safer for the patients. Check out this video of Joe overseeing the renovations which are now underway at the hospital.

Read about more of Joe's volunteer activities hospitals in Armenia here.

Friday, June 01, 2007

AVC - Worldwide!

Alumni Serli Hacikoglu (AVC 2006) and Becky Bagdassarian (AVC 2002-2003) set up an AVC table at the annual Alexandria Armenian Cultural Festival in Virginia, USA. Serli and Becky were handing out brochures, showing photos and sharing personal experiences about the value of volunteering in Armenia!

Raffi Kortoshian, Hagop Cutujian, Samuel Kassarjian and Jack Maghamez (AVC 2006)
were instrumental in assisting Birthright Armenia and AVC by advertising and organizing informational presentations about the programs in Syria and Lebanon this past Spring.

Joe Levonian (AVC 2006-2007) will be organizing several presentations about AVC and Birthright Armenia in Australia within the next few months, to inspire some of our
thousands-strong Armenian community in Australia to join us in nation-building in our homeland!

AVC Exec. Director Anoush Tatevossian (AVC 2004 alum) recently made a 4 country tour giving a total of 9 presentations about AVC and Birthright Armenia communities in Romania,
Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic. The Armenian communities in these countries had not heard about the programs and were very inspired by the opportunity to connect with Armenia, other diasporans, and their own personal Armenian identity.

Constanza, Romania

Warsaw, Poland

Prague, Czech Republic

We look forward to having new volunteers from around the world come together to move mountains in Armenia in the very near future!