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: .

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Johnny Boghossian

Name: Johnny Boghossian
Age: 32
Hometown: Montreal, Canada
Length of AVC service: 2.5 months

Having just completed an MBA, I thought it was the best time to go on my first trip to Armenia and do so in the way I wanted to all along. My goal was to go on a longer trip and be there as a volunteer in order to contribute to the country and really meet people at the same time. My volunteer work in Armenia was at the Center for Agribusiness and Regional Development (CARD), which is an NGO funded by the USDA and aims at to develop the infrastructure of Armenian agricultural industries. CARD operates a goat breeding center in the town of Yeghegnadzor and that is where they sent me for the second month of my stay. Called ARID, the center imports purebreds from America and Europe and crossbreeds them with local Armenian goats in order to enhance their milk productivity. The USDA however which has financed all these projects from day one severely cut funding this year (by 70%) leaving ARID scrambling to find ways of becoming financially sustainable. My job was to review there finances and consult the management on the best business strategy they should undertake.

The project got me out into the countryside where I saw a completely different perspective of Armenia, one far away from the night clubs, cafes, and bars of Yerevan. Instead of spending evenings dodging Yerevan traffic, I spent them picking fruits off trees with my host family and grilling Armenian khorovadz in view of some spectacular mountains. As a result, I saw a side of Armenian culture untouched by music videos and neon lights; one that hinted at how our ancestors could have lived hundreds of years ago and at their customs which still live on.

The project itself was incredibly fulfilling. I came to it with absolutely no agricultural experience, however during my time at the center I visited cheese producers, goat farmers, and distant villages up in the mountains; I witnessed the birth of a goat and came away with an appreciation for everything that goes into getting food from the earth to our tables. All the while I met Armenians and learned about my own culture and of the history and people of this young republic. I hope the plan I provided the managers assists them with their strategy, but I know that for me every moment of my two months in Armenia was well worth it.


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