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  • Tatev

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LCO-OTC Volunteers Visit Ancient Sites

On Sunday, the entire group went on a journey back in time to three historical monasteries. Our volunteers filled up a van and were driven to the city of Vanadzor, Armenia's third largest city. They had stopped for some minor shopping, to get the sounds and sights of city life after their village stay, before heading off into the past.

 

The monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin have been designated as UNESCO historical sites. They are located in the northern Lori section of Armenia, two hours away from the campaign site. Since it was a Sunday, they experienced Holy Mass at the same church that has been used for the past eight hundred years. Haghpat is a large complex located on a hilltop, with several smaller churches and library.  The 'badarak" could be heard throughout the complex grounds as they were strolling and admiring the views.

 

They next went to Sanahin, located a few kilometers away. Sanahin is nestled in the forest, giving it a very surreal life.  Our group had realized by this time, that the church site they were working on in Tchichenavank, was from the same century as these monasteries. They tried to walk across the length of the walls for good luck. All of them were excited to return to the village and start working on the church again. Calab from Canada, and Nick from America, both said that it was a very rewarding experience to work on the church after seeing these sites.

After a picnic lunch by an "akhpiour" (natural spring), our final destination was the large church of Odzoun, located in the same region, on a high plateau. The volunteers were very fortunate to meet the priest of the church, since this site is still an active church. They were given a tour of the interior, showing the architectural significance of the various walls, where there also exists a stone carving of the very first depiction of Mary and infant Jesus, in Christiandom. They were given a special blessing by the priest, who was grateful to see so many diasporan youth in this remote area of Armenia.
The volunteers were driven back to Vanadzor for a last look at the city, before returning to their village, eager to begin work the next day.
 
 
For more photos of this excursion, please visit our Gallery.
 
  • "There are experiences you shape and then there are experiences that shape you. The LCO Campaign of 2007 in the village of Azat offered me invaluable perceptions into the realities of my fellow Armenian brothers and sisters in a way only a true immersion program can. I urge everyone and anyone who might feel an inkling of belonging to this fascinating country, people, and history to sign up with the campaign immediately. I smile just thinking about what you have yet to experience."
    Noushig K, Azat 2007, CA, USA

  • "Coming back from a 4-day trip to Kharabagh really felt like coming back home, with our family waiting to greet us outside our house. That's when I realised just how attached we'd grown to the place, to our family, to the other volunteers"
    Anoosh Gasparian, Azat 2009, London UK

  • "I went to this trip with no expectations, and came back with a great appreciation for our country.  Life in the village is surreal, the food is beyond delicious and the people are incredibly nice. It was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget!"  Sam Tahmasian, 2009, CA, USA
  • "LCO is an amazing concept. It introduced the deprived Diasporan to their land and their people. It is a wonderful introduction to Armenia and something every young man or woman should experience."
    Madlene Minassian Ispirian, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, Yerevan, Armenia

  • "My most memprable experience was being so warmly taken care by an old village couple, receiving gifts from them, giving them gifts and establishing bonds."
    Naira Der-Kiureghian, Ayroum 2003, CA, USA

  • "...I know that when I reflect back on this experience I will feel ecstatic about the work we accomplished, the things we saw, and the bonds we forged."
    Hovig Saghdejian, Ayroum 2003, California, USA

  • "Dolma is made with mum's careful instructions, grandmothers eyes found on the faces of children, songs of Ararat are as familiar as the Khachkars dotting the landscape. If it smells like home, looks like home then it must be home."
    Datevig Simonian, Shadvan 2004, California, USA

  • "LCO experience was a revelation for me. It gave me the opportunity to expand my horizons both personally and professionally. One of the most important experiences of my life and an important factor in determining my future goals."
    Lara Aharonian, August 1999, August 2001, Montreal, Canada.

  • "I formed strong bonds with my volunteers, and the difference in backgrounds was refreshing. It was interesting to hear the points of view of different Armenians from other areas of the Diaspora."
    Aramazt Kalaydjian, Shoushi 2003, NY, USA

  • "I loved the simplicity of life in the village, the fresh homemade food is wonderful; that people are the friendliest and most hospitable... the children have the most beautiful faces..."
    Sophia Balakian, Shadvan 2004, New York, USA