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Hiking and Exploring

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After several days of work, the group got some time off to explore the surrounding area. Volunteers took a one-hour scenic walk up through lush forests above the city of Kapan to the remains of Halizhor fortress and Sourp Minas Church where David Bek and his soldiers resisted the invading Ottoman army. The local caretaker and his family saw our group walking and invited them for Armenian hospitality and tea. The Armenian music was going and the family and group danced. After the pit stop, the group descended back down the mountains and enjoyed lunch overlooking the Voghji River. Then it was down to the big city of Kapan to hang out for coffee, ice cream, Wi-Fi, and shop for snacks to take back in the village.

Visiting Kapan

The next day on Sunday, we headed to the nearby village of Yeghvard. LCO/OTC and previous volunteers worked in that village for three years renovating the 17th Century Sourp Astvatzatzin Church. This group got to see what a completed restoration project looks like as they are still in the archaeological dig phase in Shikahogh. Yeghvard mayor Spartak Zakaryan welcomed our group and hosted us for lunch in their community center, and then tea and honey back at his house. Volunteers took another long walk outside the village right across the border of the liberated Karabagh territories. They saw primitive, almost alien looking, gravestones and khachkars (stone crosses) in the forest. Archaeologist Arman walked the group even further down the valley to see fossils and where he and his colleagues had found artifacts from the Mithra period that is now being studied by experts. On the way back up to the village, volunteers tightly packed in a car and got a lift from the mayor's 15 year old son Artur who could barely reach the peddle.

Back in our village of Shikahogh, the group had a great dolma dinner and hung out by the campfire, read, and relaxed before starting a new week on the project. After the group got situated in Shikahogh, Dr. Aram Gazarian, a hand surgeon, went to Karabagh to perform two days of surgeries at the Shushi Regional Hospital which OTC renovated the surgical floor at the hospital. He then went to Yerevan for three days of surgeries and gave a lecture on hand transplantations, accompanied by a prominent French colleague of his.

  • "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