Armenian Hogwarts & Road Trips

It’s been a busy first week. In some ways it feels like we’ve been here way longer than one week, and in other ways it’s still so new. It’s been a week of impressions in so many ways.

The week began with two days of work at Ameriabank, I feel lucky that I can help with something I hope I know a little bit about, Information Management. It still feels weird saying my volunteering placement is at a bank. I have to keep telling myself that competency in other fields than social work is also important for the Armenian society as a whole.

I got my chance to acquaint myself with the other youths, younglings, and youthsters who are in Armenia as part of Birthright Armenia on Tuesday. It felt like coming into Armenian Hogwarts, maybe a little bit less magic but still opening a world of Armenians from all around the world. I got to meet Armenians from Brazil, Argentina, Lebanon, France, USA, Canada and much more. There was even another person from Sweden there! Another reference to the world of Harry Potter is our own version of Hagrid, Hayk is the excursion coordinator, a big guy with a big beard, a tough first impression but in the end a teddy bear.

Leo Zakarian trying to blend with younger people

We got the chance to go see Armenia – Italy football game, a interesting experience, Armenian fans are a bit more engaged than the ones I’ve seen in Sweden, it was a really nice game. The only thing that sucked was the “food” inside the arena. The worst French fries I’ve had in my life, and a sorry excuse for a hot dog, never the less a good first day of meeting other volunteers in Armenia.

Later on Saturday we had a excursion together with the Armenian Volunteer Corp and Armenia Tree Project. Their goal is to plant more trees in Armenia (duh), and we were helping them prepare an area that’ll be turned into a park. It was a really hot day but basically my first workout session since arriving to Armenia so it felt great doing some physical labor. I really need to find a gym before I turn into the statue from the first day in Armenia post.

Lastly Emma and I finally got the chance to go on a trip of our own, we went to Vanadzor, Armenias third largest city together with Emmas host sister and others for a contemporary art exhibit. The landscape on the way there was amazing with mountains in the clouds. It was a real shame that it was a rainy day, I was looking forward to take some cool drone pictures, another time I guess.

Both in Yerevan and the country side there are a lot of reminders of the post soviet legacy. Abandoned factories, houses, half finished power plants and much more. It’s both an eerie feeling and a very interesting one. I’ll make a post of post soviet Armenia another time, it deserves more depth than I can give you right now. The same can be said about the cities, there’s a strange beauty to the cities. As Emma put it, it’s not exactly Versailles, but it has a beauty of its own. Like you’re walking in the glory of a former empire, observing what once was.


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