First I want to start off saying how honored I feel to be in Armenia, especially with a group like the one I am with. As days go by, our friendships grow closer and although we have our ups and downs, we always end up loving each other at the end. We have met new people, who have inspired us with unique, musical talents along with shocking stories of their experiences in war. Everything has truly touched me since the day I stepped foot in Shushi.
Our departure from Proshyan was interesting as we got to meet three new members in our group: Adrineh, Sarineh, and Narineh (from Holland). As our destination got closer to Shushi, I missed those mornings in Proshyan when I would to wake up to Mount Ararat right in front of me, but I was also excited to discover new sights in Shushi. On the road we stopped at Noravank Church on top of a tall, rocky mountain, and explored the great secrets of the historic rooms and underground rooms. And that wasn’t our only stop. We made our way to Khor Virab, a church right in front of Mount Ararat. I remember seeing a poster of the church and Ararat in my dad’s dental office, and I had always wished to go there and seeing it was a very surreal experience. Then came the best part: sitting on the edge of the church wall and gazing at Mount Ararat’s icy beauty, admiring every second. As hard as it was to pry our eyes away from that sight, we were on a mission to reach Sushi on time, so we made our way — crammed inside a van. The next touristic sight was a special one. It was a sky-lift, the longest one in the world, taking us to Tatev “Vank” (monastery). It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever encountered! Once we reached the church, I saw villagers selling all types of teas and quickly purchased the most unique smelling ones.
A few hours later, finally we arrived at Saro’s house in Shushi. We immediately settled in and joined the Argentinian party, introducing ourselves and making friends; a great conclusion for the night.
This past week has been fantastic. We’ve been exploring Artsakh, seeing known landmarks around Shushi/Stepanakert and continuing our Jampar with 190 amazing kids. I don’t think I would want to go back to America. Spending all this time in Armenia makes me want to live here and make it my home. I want to explore all the other churches, cities, landmarks, villages, and meet different people. I also don’t want to go back and separate from this group. It is such an amazing experience to be able to live with people I’ve never met and create a bond that’s indescribable.
This trip has inspired me to apply again next year so I can live in my homeland for 6 weeks again, or maybe even longer. AYF Youth Corps 2013, thumbs up!
Asbed Levon Sarkissian
AYF Youth Corps 2013