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Land And Culture Organization Historical Renovation Projects 2011

Clearing around Church grounds
Clearing around Church grounds

Yerevan, Armenia –This summer, Land and Culture Organization/Organisation Terre et Culture (LCO/OTC) volunteers headed off to two different campaign sites.  One group of volunteers went to north to the Shirakamut village, near the epicenter of the 1988 earthquake, to work on the renovation of the historic 7th Century Tchitchkhanavank Monastery, and another group of volunteers went south to Yeghvard, on the border of the liberated territories of Artsakh, to finalize work on the 17th Century Sourp Astvatzatzin Church project.  Throughout July and August, over 60 volunteers were in Shirakamut, Yeghvard, as well as in Goris.

 

OTC is participating in a joint venture project with the sister cities of Vienne, France and Goris, Armenia renovating the 18th Century Sourp Astvatzatzin Church near the pagan era caves in Old Goris.  Non-Armenian and Armenian volunteers from the Vienne community and local youth from Goris have committed themselves to this project.

The volunteers from Armenia, Canada, England, France, Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria, and the United States were hard at work at these different sites clearing, digging, and excavating, including discovering several ancient artifacts and human remains at the Tchitchanavank site which were turned over to the archaeological experts for review.  During the campaign, the villages become energized by the group and renovation project.  Local children join in the work and villagers express their appreciation to LCO/OTC and the volunteers for their dedication to these projects for their community.

Clearing around Church grounds
Volunteers Hard At Work

During off work hours, the group mingled with each other and locals, explored the countryside, and went on typical and atypical excursions throughout Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, including viewing prior completed LCO/OTC projects.  This not only gives them a sense of Armenia and its history, but an appreciation and inspiration for the work they were engaged in. This unique, off the tourist path, experience gave volunteers an opportunity to live the rural Armenian life and participate in preserving our ancient heritage.

In its 34th year, LCO/OTC is committed to the mission of preserving ancient Armenian historical sites.  All projects are overseen and coordinated with local Armenian archaeologists, historical architects, and experts to ensure that the renovation is conducted properly and restoring the site to its original design, including using as many of the remaining stones.  Renovation projects take four to five years to complete.

For over 30 years, LCO has been one of the earliest volunteers groups in Armenia and Karabakh working to restore, renovate, and rejuvenate the historical monuments and sites of our nation. It has performed this mission through its summer campaigns, by volunteers of every age from the Diaspora and Armenia. To help our mission or join in our summer volunteer program, you may reach us at www.lcousa.org.

  • "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