It’s already the 7th day of Jampar and I can’t believe how fast the days are passing by. It feels as though it was just a day or two ago when I was introducing myself and trying to learn all the kids’ names. By now, I have all my students’ names memorized (quite an accomplishment for those who know me). This is because everything feels different here in Gyumri. It’s not just any other group of kids that I’m counseling and working with, but rather my younger brothers and sisters. As cliché as that sounds, it bodes true for me. Although we live thousands of miles apart and have never met before, I feel as though we are from the same family. Although not always cooperative, all of these kids with their crazy ideas and thoughts will always be my younger siblings. Every day, the kids anxiously wait for our arrival, and although some of the counselors may not admit it, we all walk with the same anxiousness to see them. My personal favorite is English class which happens right after breakfast for the Blue Team. I love asking my siblings an English question and hearing them all scream back different responses in English, Russian, Armenian, and of course, that secret language every child creates and is convinced that others will understand.
Come 4 o’clock, as soon as camp ends, I get to spend time with my other family: the 10 other participants and our fearless leader, Arek. It’s clear to anyone who interacts with us for 5 minutes how close we all have gotten. All the awkwardness from the first time we all met is long gone and now we share everything with one another. I’ll admit that at first, the living situation sounded a bit scary… 12 people sharing one bathroom and one shower (which could only be used at certain times during the day). Now, I can’t imagine going to the bathroom and not having to wait in line or being caught in the shower rush. When I say rush I literally mean rush. Anyone who has done Youth Corps in the past knows the shower rules at Deegeen Leelig’s. Hot water goes on, and everyone has to jump in back to back and shower as quickly as possible. Although it sounds like the most difficult thing to manage, we’ve all figured out a fun way to make it work. I love it here.