One size does not fit all. Likewise, one’s way of life will not resemble another’s. This reality hit me rather quickly upon getting on the airplane toward Armenia. I can list a million grievances I have with people’s behavior out here, but in return, the list is quite lengthy from their viewpoint toward us.
Stripping yourself of all judgments is a necessity in order to be able to truly discover what this land and people are about. Yet, you need to take it a step further and make yourself humble, accept the way of life you experience as you travel throughout the country, and do all you can to not impose your way of life on the rotating wheel of customs and culture out here. This is the starting point for change. The people will listen to you if they accept you. Otherwise, you are a circus clown to poke fun at and bring entertainment to a rather bored audience.
I’m so proud of our Youth Corps group when it comes down to their behavior and attitude throughout the four weeks of camp we’ve had so far. We were literally slapped in the face by various cultural norms as we worked together with the kids, the local Yeridasartats Tashnagtsootyun members, and the various city locals we came across. It was especially shocking because our group is almost entirely made up of girls, and the locals love to put pressure on the behavior of women. In the end, we gained their respect in return and planted the seeds we came to sow.
Choosing your battles is a must. It adds flavor to foreign relationships, and it allows concrete ideals to shine. I have grown and expanded as an individual, and I have helped my brothers and sisters in the motherland do the same. There’s a lot of beauty to be discovered in the cultural chaos of Diaspora-Armenia relations, and we can only have a say with programs like Youth Corps that put you in the heart of our meshing Armenian reality. Five camps was a great success this year, now let’s expand.