Հուլիս 28, 2017
My long-term EVS volunteering experiences with the Youth Studies Institute was truly one of a kind.
The cultural differences between Caucasus and Europe are quite noticeable and one greatest challenges that volunteers are facing is always the process of adaptation to new reality in which they are going to be living and working. The thing that was lifting up my spirit during the moments of the greatest homesickness was an amazing sense of community among fellow volunteers and organizations. They’ve always managed to somehow help me out with unexpected problems or explain me some of the more unprecedented situations.
The tasks I’ve been involved in during my volunteer service in Armenia mostly focused on working with youth. I’ve been responsible for conducting English language lessons, organizing discussion panels and running hobby clubs about movies and British culture. I’ve also created separate seminars which were devoted to issues such as overcoming stereotypes, personal development and critical thinking in decision making.
During my language classes I’ve put a lot of emphasis on intercultural exchange and non-formal education methods. I’ve tasked my students with presenting elements of the Armenian culture during my lessons so I could have better understanding of it, and in exchange I’ve shared my knowledge about European traditions and beliefs. This way we’ve all learned something from each other and just a standard lesson of English language transformed into interesting exchange of cultures. Thanks to that kind of an approach I was able to somewhat start understanding Armenia and thus feel part of it quicker.
With the help of my host organization and other fellow volunteers I’ve also created my own project called “Humangraphy – People of Armenia” which was a photography and social studies project focused on creating an exhilarating atlas of passionate portraits and stories shared by inhabitants of Armenia. The aim of our project was to present the richness and diversity of Armenian society and culture throughout sharing interesting stories, opinions and beliefs to wider public on social media. This project was meant to show how diverse and talented this nation is and it will be continued by other volunteers even after my return home.
During my leisure time I’ve studied the culture, history and art of the entire Caucasus area. Local people, with their unmatched willingness to help, quite often explained me some of the more complicated or incomprehensible topics.
Although I’ve spent most of my time in Yerevan I was also able to visit two of the bordering countries – Georgian and Iran. Caucasus as a whole is mountainous region of many fascinating and uncharted places where wildlife thrives. Every type of traveler is able to find something for themselves here – from hiking trails filled with beautiful vistas, through charming little towns and sleepy villages to live and festive capital cities.
The Caucasus cannot never be tamed or fully understood. Nonetheless, the long-term volunteering is a great opportunity not only do some good in the world out there, but also to get closer to this unique and thriving culture.