April 24, 2015

April 24, 2015 marked the 100 year anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide in 1915. This Centennial was a big deal around the world, but especially in Armenia. The whole month of April was a very special and exciting time to be here. Yerevan was full of tourists, exhibitions on the Genocide, conferences, and a general buzz. I feel very lucky to have been in Armenia for this special commemoration, but I feel even more fortunate that I was able to live in Armenia for 6-7 months before the April activities. This gave me a deeper appreciation for the gravity of the April events and how they relate to modern day Armenia. Continue reading

Two Weeks, Three Celebrations of Love

Something I have noticed during my 5 months (!!!!!) in Armenia is that Armenians love to celebrate. From extravagant weddings, to week long celebrations of birthdays, to the two weeks of celebrating Christmas, Armenians love to extend their celebrations. I think this is a fun quirk because it gives everybody a lot to look forward to over a longer period of time than just one day. In general, there are a lot of celebrations during the year in Armenia because many of the traditions go all the way back to pagan times and the beginnings of Christianity. So many traditions, such as the blessing of the grapes in August, has roots in pre-Christian and early Christian traditions and it has survived to modern times through the Church and families upholding the traditions.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ll address the three most recent traditions and celebrations that have occurred over the last two weeks: St. Sargis Day on January 31, Tiarn’ndaraj on February 13/14, and of course Valentine’s Day on February 14. All of them have to do with celebrating love! Continue reading

Armenian Christmas and a Trip to Georgia

It has been a very long holiday season here in Armenia with many many days of celebration. December 24 and 25 are not days for Christmas celebration except for the international crowd. We volunteers celebrated of course on those days! Most people ended work on the 28th and then return to work on January 12, so there is a lot of off time for people to occupy.

New Year’s Eve is the kickstart of the holiday celebrations in Armenia. On the 31st the tradition is to eat dinner very late (we ate around 11pm) and then welcome the New Year with family. I ate with my host family and the family of my host sister’s husband. We had the New Year TV program on in the background and it was pretty entertaining – I am posting it below for your viewing pleasure.

Continue reading

Out of Yerevan

Dilijan, Meghri, Kapan, Gyumri, Karakert…these are some of the cities/towns/villages that I visited in November. There are a lot of opportunities (with Birthright and without) to get out of Yerevan and see Armenia. What’s amazing about Armenian topography is that because it is in the mountains, the geography of the country is very diverse. Armenia is so tiny (about the size of Maryland), yet has so many topographical features!

November journeys

Continue reading

Autumn in Artsakh

As I approach my two month anniversary in Armenia (Nov 9) I am realizing how fast the time has passed. Other Birthright volunteers that have been here for a while told me that my many months here will go by quickly, but I didn’t really understand/believe them back then. “Back then” is actually an accurate term to use because 3-4 weeks ago I was still new here and had no idea what was I was doing. I still have no idea what I am doing, but everything seems less shiny and new now (which is good)!

So the topic of this post will be Artsakh aka Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (the names are interchangeable); there is a photo gallery at the end! We went on a 4 day trip to the region a couple weeks ago, and I was told it is one of the best trips Birthright does. And it absolutely was. Continue reading

2796 Years of Yerevan

This has been a week of milestones; Yerevan celebrated its 2796th birthday, I attended my first professional football (soccer) game, and I attended my second professional football game! I have not yet spotted my corgi and I am slowly achieving my goal of 1,000 lamajoon. Speaking of lamajoon, I found out that the Eastern Armenian word for it is actually lamaJO and the Western Armenian word is lamajoon. I am very upset by this news. I feel betrayed. And I am going to keep calling it lamajoon. Continue reading