This has been a life-changing six weeks, and I am definitely not prepared for it to end. The first blog I wrote was at LAX as I was getting ready to head to Armenia. It seems appropriate that I finish up my final one in LAX again, this time as I wait for Delta Airlines to figure out what happened to my luggage. During my first attempt at blog-writing, I was nervous that the kids might not like me, but now I’m trying to not cry as I think of all the smiling faces we would see everyday. I’m really going to miss all the hugs and excitement at camp.
I have grown so much in what seemed like a blink of an eye and need to begin by thanking everyone involved in this journey. Firstly, our amazing group leader, who helped me realize I can do anything that I decide I can do. And everyone from Vahe who cleaned cow poop off my feet, to Sevana, Melanie and Meghry with whom I had many late-night heart-to-hearts, to Shant, Shavo and Hrag who were always there to help with anything and everything, to Adrienne and Margaret whose constant smiles brought happiness to the group, and to Patil, Arpa and Vergine who were always there to answer the questions this previously clueless girl had.
I didn’t understand the true meaning of being an Armenian until I got here. Yes I speak, read and write Armenian, and knew enough history to not embarrass myself in a quiz bowl, but the greatest thing that I will take away from this trip is that I am now more comfortable calling myself an Armenian. I have lived and worked in the country. I have climbed up the mountains and down into the canyons. I have walked in the places I had only heard about in songs and stories. I have interacted with so many people, and made some wonderful new friends. I have seen first-hand the changes that need to be made in order to improve the lives of my new friends.
If anyone in Glendale had told me two months ago that I would be writing about having climbed Mount Aragats, I would have laughed. I can barely climb up the ladder to get to my bunk bed in my dorm room, but being in Armenia made me a new person. Not only did I become physically stronger, but I also became mentally prepared to take on anything that I decide is important enough. I met a man on the airplane, who after hearing what we had been doing for the past six weeks, told me we are the future of the country; we see its current condition and know there can be improvements. These improvements can only come from us: the youth who are educated, motivated and proud enough of their homeland that they are willing to work to fix it. Having experienced Youth Corps, I now believe him, and look forward to returning to continue the work we started.