My trip to Armenia was the most unique thing I’ve ever done. It gave me a new perspective on the world and I would absolutely go again. The project is in Northern Armenia, in Gyumri, the cultural capital of Armenia. It has historically been home to craftsmen - stonemasons, iron workers, ceramics; and artists - painters, playwrights, poets, etc. There are still many craftsmen and artisans here.
Everywhere though are signs of the large earthquake that damaged the entire Northern half of Armenia in the winter of 1988. Although significant funding was donated to the Armenian people following the quake, very little of it actually reached the people who needed it. Many people are still suffering in Gyumri and the rest of Armenia from the earthquake.
The volunteer work I did with Adventures in Preservation was an attempt to preserve and repair some of the historic buildings damaged in the quake. I worked alongside volunteers from Birthright, an organization that brings young ethnic Armenians who are living across the world to the country to learn about their heritage and volunteer in the country for several months.
My guide for the two weeks was Armen. He is also in charge of the project. He is an extremely knowledgeable young man, very kind and very fun. He works for the local municipality and knows absolutely everything about the city and the region.
While I was there we were working on measuring three historic buildings in Gyumri badly damaged in the earthquake. The buildings a beautiful examples of traditional Armenian architecture. It is an art form that is being lost and needs help to be preserved.
While volunteering I got to meet many local families. They have suffered so much yet maintain their strength of spirit and generous attitude. The invited us into their homes for sweet apricot juice, coffee and treats. They deserve this small but significant support.
After my time volunteering Armen took me around the region to see some of the stunning historic landmarks in the region. I learned so much about early Christian history. We saw churches from the beginning of Christianity in the region, some of which are Unesco World Heritage sites. And beautiful greek ruins out in the middle of large fields, near villages. At one point we came across a huge field of poppies. It was all stunning and away from the beaten path. You will have those memories for a lifetime.
Everyone I met in Armenia was kind, generous and wonderful. Armen was a wonderful host. He took care of everything I needed. The hotel I stayed at was very comfortable, and there was even a litter of kittens to play with. Lastly, the kindness and support I received from the staff at Adventures for Preservation was just perfect. They are an amazing organization. I’d absolutely recommend this trip.