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Shikahogh Adventure Begins

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From the US, France, Canada, England, and Russia and 17 LCO/OTC volunteers from different points in the world slowly arrived in Yerevan.  Some had the opportunity to walk around Yerevan and take in city life while others were in Yerevan for a few hours.  Once everyone arrived, the group set off on a long journey from Yerevan to our new home for one month in Shikahogh.  Our first stop along the way was Khor Virab.  It was a pretty clear day and the group took in a good view of Ararat.  Volunteers released two white doves for a successful campaign.  After doing the tourist stop, we were on our way towards the southern most part of Armenia. 

First Day

After a 10-hour mountainous and winding scenic drive, with occasional animal traffic of goats, cows and sheep, we arrived in Shikahogh.  The village mayor Jirayr Badvaganyan and villagers greeted our group.  As the volunteers walked from the main road into the village, they took in the lush mountains, local stream, fruit trees, and a cow resting on the path.  The group got settled into their village home where they will all be living together as one big family.   Aren Basmadjian, OTC France Board Member, a campaign veteran and group leader for many campaigns, will be group leader living with and overseeing the volunteers.  LCO Armenia and project architect Stepan Nalbandian walked the volunteers up to the church to explain the restoration work and what work the volunteers would be doing.     

Now it was time to relax and enjoy their first organic village meal al fresco.  We had a large group with LCO/OTC board members and project heads joining and welcoming the group on their first day.  OTC France President Dr. Aram Gazarian welcomed the volunteers and thanked the mayor and villagers for their support of our group and the project.  From LCO-USA Haig and Hilda Manjikian, Nazareth Kevonian and Lena Kaimian came to Armenia ahead of time to review the volunteers living and work conditions and coordinate their trip.  After dinner, local village boys took the group on a walk through their village and visit to the village market.  The group winded down and started to settle into their home and village.  

2013 Volunteers

 Alison Snowball            -Canada
 Stepan Gasparian          -England
 Azad Derderyan             -France
 Jean Mouchet               -France
 Sevan Mouton              -France
 Mickael Nigoghossian     -France
 Nayiri Tcharakhoutian    -France
 Vladimir Areshyan          -Russia
 Shant DerVartanian        -California, USA
 Steven Gallatin             -California, USA
 Arsham Hayrikian          -California, USA
 Arman Hayrikian           -California, USA
 Aram Nalbandian          -Massachusetts, USA
 Adrineh Nalbandian      -Massachusetts, USA
 Azniv Nalbandian         -Massachusetts, 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