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, May 07, 2013

Hi, I’m a random European

Jessica Massucco
UK, 2013

Well Armenia, what to say. I volunteered because I had two months to do something and the Caucasus looked interesting. I was curious.
At least six people in Yerevan told me I look Russian. My Slavic friends will find this hilarious. Sometimes I felt uneasy in Armenia. It is so small, so homogeneous and so isolated. It’s so preoccupied with its past and with ethnic pride. I am not familiar with any of these things. Other times I felt very comfortable in Armenia. I stayed with a lovely host family, easily navigated myself around and met some wonderful activists.
Armenian Volunteer Corps (AVC) placed me with the ArmenianEnvironmental Network (AEN), an NGO directed by two former AVC volunteers based in the USA. This was a great place for me. I’d done similar work before and AEN introduced me to brilliant people. Activists in Yerevan are well connected and regularly support each other’s campaigns. This seems essential for a society attempting to balance serious environmental problems with social and political priorities. I learnt a lot about poverty, domestic violence and corruption in Armenia and this reminded me that not all societies can ruthlessly prioritise recycling. It was the reminder I needed and had come to receive.
The Caucasus is a biodiversity hotspot and Armenia’s environment is extraordinary. I was already concerned about Armenia’s environment before I arrived – a detached environmental concern. Now I understand that this land is a Homeland to millions. So much has been sacrificed to protect it; even now soldiers continue to die along the Azerbaijan border.  Having survived so many tragedies it is impossible to imagine that mere plastic bottles and chemical waste could ruin Armenia forever. I hope this can be prevented and I would recommend any curious reader of this blog to volunteer with AVC and support the work yourself.
Thank you Armenia for treating me kindly and teaching me something new.


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