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Work Progress and Village Stories

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Work Front of Chutch

The volunteers have done an incredible job in a week's time. The church's floor has been completely cleared of dirt and the stone floor can be seen. Now they are working on the front wall of the church that must be cleared 5 feet out and 6 inches deep, and the north wall outside of the church grounds that must be dug out 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep to reach the wall's foundation. Small hand tools are being used for this work. After getting 5 feet in, shovels and larger tools can be used to dig the area and remove the dirt. As always, archaeologist Arman is on hand supervising this archaeological phase of this project.


After a few intense days of work, the group enjoyed some day trips and visited the majestic 9th Century Tatev Monastery and rode the aerial tram. While there, the group visited the village of Tatev and a previous LCO/OTC restoration project of the village's 17th Century Sourp Minas church. On another excursion day, they again headed to the northern Syunik city of Goris to visit the joint Vienne, France-Goris sister city project, overseen by OCT's Joe Papazian and Jirair Akian. The 1771 Sourp Astvatzatzin church has been renovated and now a few French and local Goris volunteers are finishing up some exterior groundwork so the final "ozhoom"/blessing can be done in September. This site is located in the Old Goris area dating back to the 8th Century B.C. The group saw the church and explored the nearby caves. Goris Mayor Nelson Voskanyan greeted the group and invited them to a nearby café for coffee and ice cream. Afterwards our volunteers had a joint lunch with the French volunteers. Then the group headed off to experience the prehistoric megalithic stones of Karahunj/Zorats Karer, which are 3,500 years older than Stonehenge and 3,000 years older than the Egyptian pyramids.

Degeen Marietta

Back in Shikahogh, mayor Jirayr took volunteers to villagers' homes to hear oral history from some of the village elders. 74-year-old Deegeen Marietta told the village fable about how her great-great grandfather wrestled a bear. The family then treated the group to tea and "khorovodz"/barbeque. The village's eldest person, 92-year-old Haroutiun Haroutiunyan, an herbalist-village doctor who delivered some of the village's babies, spoke about the last priest in the village who disappeared during the 1930s. They gave the volunteers "tootee oghee"/mulberry vodka and thanked the group for coming to their village. The volunteers appreciated their hospitality and got a better understanding of the history of the church they were working on and connected with the villagers.

  • "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