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A Story From Our Volunteer - Natalie Shabol

Today we had a regular day at work, but we we're surprised to have special guests at the end of our workday. A big group of people from a Catholic Church group joined us as they learned about the story of Tchitchkhanavank and the reasons behind why the LCO program has taken the time and dedication to work on it. The kids got to also work on the site, just like the volunteers. The wheel-barrowed, shoveled, and used a pick-axel, just as we do everyday. Their fresh energy and excitement got a lot of work done in the little time that they were present, and definitely helped a lot, as we are exhausted at the end of the week.

My Birthday

After our day of work, we were invited to a friend's house from the village. Ani, who is a friend of LCO members, also helped videotape and document some of the moments of LCO volunteers. As we entered her home, she and her mother were very welcoming. They had a long table ready for us and they had couches! We haven't seen couches for weeks now! We all sat around the long table, devouring the delicious food. We had potatoes, eggplants, home made raspberry juice, and so much more! As we thought we couldn't possibly take another bite of food, Ani came out with a cake for me, since it's my birthday on Sunday. The cake had candles spelled out Shnorhavor in Armenian. Everyone sang to me as we celebrated, and we found room to eat a slice of the delicious cake Ani baked. Today, we got to enjoy the company of heart-warming and enjoyable people, who live in the village we have been working on.

Natalie Shahbol


  • "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