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Shirakamut Welcomes LCO/OTC Volounteers

Hanging out in Yerevan

After spending a few days out and about in Yerevan, the July group of 21 volunteers headed 3 hours north to the Shirak Region’s village of Shirakamut. On their drive up, they toured Hovanavank, Saghmosavank, Abaran, visited a previous LCO/OTC campaign site in Gogaran, and picked fruit from a farm off the road. Upon arrival, 100 locals, including village officials and school children dancing warmly greeted them.   The volunteers got into the spirit and joined with the children in traditional Armenian dance.  Then the group settled into their village homes for the next month.


As always the LCO/OTC group was an international mix of Armenians from Canada, France and the United States.  Joining the campaign is an expat from Aleppo, Syria living in Armenia for the last decade with her family, and four volunteers from Karabagh.  Two of the Karabagh volunteers are returning from last year’s campaign along with two of their friends.  Overseeing the volunteers are OTC France Board Member Dr. Aram Gazarian along with his wife and three children, LCO USA Board Member Dr. Haig Manjikian, OTC France member Hovaness Carabedian, and group leader Garo Manjikian.  The group is living together, dining together, working together, and touring together.  Another group from Europe will be coming in August to continue the project.


Volunteers hard at work

This is the third year LCO/OTC volunteers have been working on the 7th Century Tchitchkhanavank Monastery complex.  Archaeological digs are continuing at the site with bones and relics still being discovered.  Volunteers are digging to unearth the actual perimeter of the church grounds before the monastery can be restored to its original structure.  Tchitchkhanavank is 1.5 miles outside the current Shirakamut village.  Archaeologist Arman Nalbandian is on site with the group overseeing the archaeological excavation of the site.   Unearthed objects are analyzed at the Research Center of Historical Monuments at the Ministry of Culture of Armenia.  Carbon dating will be done in France on bones discovered during the campaign.



July 2012 Campaign Volunteers

Sergey Arutyunov – USA

Armen Atmajian – France

Steven Bagdasarians – USA

Levon Balayan – Karabagh

Garni Baroni – USA

Hovaness Carabedian - France

Loris Chahinian – France

Arevik Cholakian – Armenia/Syria

Aram Gazarian – France

Chouchan Gazarian – France

Manoug Gazarian – France

Mateos Gazarian – France

Meline Gazarian – France

Suren Hambarsoumyan – Karabagh

Nanor Kevork – Canada

Tara Khachaturian – USA

Garo Manjikian – USA
Haig Manjikian – USA
Khachatur Mikaelyan – Karabagh

Yura Sargsyan – Karabagh

Natalie Shahbol – USA

  • "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