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: .

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

From Armenia to Denmark and back to Armenia


My name is Tatevik Revazian. I was born in Yerevan, but my family moved to Denmark when I was 5 years old. Although I’ve lived in Denmark most of my life, gone to Danish school, high school and university, I have still felt Armenian. I study business administration and organizational communication in Denmark and this is my final semester of my bachelor. In my course it is mandatory to finalize an internship period of 3 months, which I chose to do here in Armenia. I am working at a Danish NGO, which is fantastic. The NGO has worked in Armenia since 1992 trying and changing the lives of the disabled. Since October 2009 the organization has the responsibility of combating HIV/AIDS. The numbers of people infected are increasing in Armenia. I am working on a communication plan for this new project, which is very exiting and relevant to my studies. I am working on one of the largest running projects in Armenia at the moment. It feels great converting theoretical knowledge into practice.

Enjoy the reading!


What an experience already! I have only been here for two weeks and I am already full of wonderful memories.

To start off the colleagues at work are great and I feel very welcome. We all went to a restaurant last Friday and for the first time in my life I experienced a restaurant with live music and people dancing. This is so normal here, but I have never experienced this in Denmark – it’s so much more fun!

I am also very happy with my tasks and although I am “only” an intern I have to work independently. For example, so far I have written an action plan and interviewed some of the stakeholders that are in the target group (NGO’s, UN agencies and the Ministry of Health). I am gaining insight knowledge to be able to build the communication plan.

I have also started taking Armenian classes through Birthright Armenia. I speak Armenian, but I’ve never learned to read or write. There are no Armenian schools in Denmark and very few people even know that our country exists. When I arrived I felt Armenian letters were Chinese for me, but after two classes, I am able to read some words and that is such a satisfaction. The teacher is working alone with me and I am learning the letters much faster than I had imagined.

My first Saturday in Armenia was spent with the Birthright Armenia participants. There was a trip organized to Khosrovian Forest. Being used to a flat country it was a very scary experience. The roads were awful and we went there in a military-like van – apparently no other car would survive a trip like that. While the guys were playing football in the van I was begging not to fall into the ditch. BUT it was so worth it. Being surrounded by mountains from everywhere was a breathtaking experience. It was so beautiful and the air was so so clean. We hiked until we reached an old church that was breaking piece by piece. This would be a perfect place for an archeologist. It’s sad that there isn’t money enough to explore places like this, there is so much undiscovered history!

Although I am very happy here there are some things that are difficult to get used too. If you have family here (as I do) please forget the privacy concept, this seems to be non-existing in Armenia. I have a lot of family here and they are all very worried about me – especially because I am a woman. It is my experience that the males in the family feel very over-protective. They feel it is their responsibility that nothing bad happens. I am very thankful for that and I am very thankful for the warmth I feel from my family members, but it is a bit difficult. I am used to taking care of myself. This does not mean that I do not have family in Denmark that worries – I certainly do, but it is not in this extend.

Although I haven’t been here for that long I am beginning to get a deeper understanding of my identity. I have learned that there is so much I love about the Armenian culture. At the same time there are many things I have a hard time accepting. The word accepting is most suitable because to a certain extent I do understand why people think or act as do, but it is difficult to accept.

Note to readers: Tatevik will be blogging each Wednesday for the next several weeks. So, come back next Wednesday!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Meet Edwin from Maryland

Edwin Akopyan
Maryland, USA

Edwin (pictured here with Pyunic Association for the Disabled volunteer Ani Demirdjian of Uruguay) arrived in Armenia in late September 2009 and he plans to be in Armenia for a total of 10 months.

He was born in the heartland of the United States (Oklahoma to be exact) and lived in lot of different places in the United States before settling in Maryland.

Edwin attended the University of Maryland in Baltimore County graduating in December 2008 with a degree in Mechanic Engineering. In college Edwin liked to play and watch (American) football and work on cars. He is a big fan of watching drag car racing. He worked during the summers in college doing all sort of things including construction and even worked as a ramp agent for an airline. After he graduated, Edwin searched around a bit for the right job.

Below is a brief interview with Edwin about his volunteer experience.

Have you ever been to Armenia before: Yes. I spent two months in Armenia with the Land and Culture Organization in 2003, most of the time in Shushi working to renovate the Shushi hospital.

Why did you want to volunteer in Armenia: I have always had a perception that Armenia could utilize help from our large Diaspora. And, I always had big ideas about what could be done if the Diaspora and Armenia worked together. The only thing you can do is try to impact people’s lives in whatever way you can. I want to have an impact.

Where are you volunteering:
I am volunteering at Industrial Technologies Co (ITC).

What is ITC: It is a design engineering firm. People from outside of Armenia ask ITC to design a product and ITC does that. ITC mainly designs tools for clients who don’t have the capacity to design them in house.

What do you do at ITC: Small tasks, general research mostly about manufacturing techniques and materials. I even modeled some parts for an exciting project I am working on.

How do you feel about being a volunteer: I guess I am a bit of a role player. I don’t have a major role at ITC but I am there to help out in any way I can.

Did anything surprise you about your volunteer placement: Yes. There is no running water half the time I am there. And, the vast majority of the people that I work with know English and they know a lot about Western culture, like George Carlin. And, a lot of the engineers I work with are not local, they are from Iran and I am also Barskahay.

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