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, August 18, 2009

From Arizona to Yerevan

Gabrielle Kaprielian
Arizona, United States

As an American trying to start a career in international relations, I had been attempting for some time to live and work abroad in a developing country. After a few other options fell through I finally found Armenian Volunteer Corps. What could be better than to get great work and life experience and to do in a place that I have a connection to? I was looking for something more long-term and AVC gave me the opportunity to stay for an entire year.

I was placed with an organization called Counterpart International, which works towards developing Armenia’s civil society and improving democratic governance through grants and other support for local Armenian non-profits. I feel so lucky to have been given a volunteer position at Counterpart. I have wonderful co-workers, have learned so much about working in development, and feel that I have made a real contribution. While there remains much work to be done here, I am proud to work for an organization that is making a difference.

Living in Armenia offers great opportunities for learning and personal development. You just have to look for them and take full advantage of what is here. I have been able to meet incredible people and take part in very interesting events that I would never have the chance to do in the US. I feel that I learn something new and important every day I spend here. Perceptions that I arrived with have been changed, and this knowledge will help me in my future career and in life. It’s one thing to read about how a society works, and a completely different thing to come and actually experience it. And I know that there remains much more for me to experience while I’m here. For that I couldn’t imagine leaving any sooner.

While there is much to be pessimistic about in Armenia, there is also a lot of room for optimism. Each time I have a negative experience on a bus or read a depressing story on human rights, it always gets counterbalanced with something that gives me hope for our future. Sometimes it comes in the form of a project that my organization funded that helped get a law passed to protect the rights of mental health patients. Other times it’s meeting local people who are working hard to ensure a better future for Armenia. I’ve met amazing young people here who have the same desires for a better Armenia that I do.

When people back home ask me what it is that I love about living here, it’s hard for me to come up with a simple list of what keeps me here. Living in Armenia is difficult to describe, but amazing to do. I have recently been given the opportunity to stay on for an extra five months, working with Counterpart, and I’m very excited for all that I will discover in my next chapter here in Armenia.

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