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Our 2015 LCO Campaign Adventure Begins!

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Yerevan, Armenia - After countless hours of planning and a sixteen hour flight, we have finally arrived in Armenia to begin our adventure! We eleven volunteers from the US and Australia are here for the next three weeks to rebuild a 16th-century church, in the remote village of Shikahogh in the southern Syunik region.

 

To make this journey a reality, most of us used our school break or vacation days for 5-6 hours of daily manual labor and an unprecedented personal experience as LCO volunteers. For most of us, it's our first time in Armenia, and half of us don't speak the language. We don't know what to expect, but we are all very excited - not only to learn about and connect with the land and people who live here, but to make a difference for the Armenian heritage! Read more about LCO's mission here: http://www.lcousa.org/about-lco/our-vision

 

So far, Yerevan has given us a very warm welcome, both literally and figuratively! Daytime temperatures exceed one hundred degrees, and we have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know our fellow volunteers, group leaders, and locals.

 

After our LCO leaders greeted us at the airport, we arrived at the centrally located Travelers Hostel. The owner, known as "lovely Alice," has welcomed us with legendary Armenian hospitality. Every morning, she ensures we eat delicious meals of fresh eggs, cheese, yogurt, and homemade jams of fig, boysenberry, apricot, rasberry and cherry. Everythings healthy and local, of course!

 

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Yesterday we did a walking tour of the city to visit the beautiful modern art museum, cascade steps and opera house. Yerevan is pleasantly modern, with wide, tree-lined, walkable streets that lead to many public squares, with countless water fountains spouting natural spring water. The sounds of chirping birds perfectly accompany the live street music on nearly every corner, from flutes, to jazz, to acapelo singing. For lunch and dinner, we ate savory family-style meals at outdoor cafes with both familiar and new cuisines!

 

Today we were lucky to participate in Vardivar, a traditional festival with Pagan roots where everyone in the country throws water on each other all day long. There must have been a thousand people, young and old, participating in Republic Square alone! Folks used buckets, hoses, squirt guns, and even dunked each other directly in the fountain, all in the spirit of fun. We had no choice but to join in, and we ended up touring the National History Museum soaking wet, squeaking shoes and all!

 

Tomorrow we will drive to Shikahogh village, where we will live and work for the next three weeks. Wish us luck that all continues to go great!

 

*** You can follow our progress via photos posted in our Flickr Album ***

  • "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