It’s been the best 2 weeks of my life, without a doubt.
Before I arrived, I thought that being part of the Youth Corps program we would be changing lives of underprivileged children in Armenia but it was the complete opposite; these children changed our lives, and they don’t even know the impact they have made on me and the other participants.
The children may be underprivileged, but they are the richest children I know. Their life is all about family, friends, love, and care for one another; and for me that is what life is all about. They do not spend their leisure time in front of laptops, TV’s or mobile phones, instead they are having the time of their lives playing in the streets and spending time with their family. With all the troubles they face every day, even when they wear the same clothes because they don’t have anything else, they still come to Jampar with a smile on their face ready for another day to learn and have fun.
The Youth Corps program is incredibly important in these regions and for these children. They see us as role models, people to look up to, and with whom to create a special bond, which always makes it incredibly hard to say goodbye. One of the children from my group was singing ‘Akhperes oo yes’ while I stood in front of him; he was halfway through the verse when he stopped and pointed at me and said, ‘Akhperes oo yes’. It was at that moment I realized just how much we make an impact on these children’s lives. There have been a few emotional moments during the Jampar, including the first time I heard the campers sing ‘Mshag Panvor’ to close the Jampar for the day. I’ve been singing this anthem for years but I have never heard it sung with such emotion and pride. Standing in Armenia with Mount Ararat visible in the background hearing these children sing was almost too much to handle.
I’ll miss these kids an incredible amount. The smile they put on my face every day, the hugs and kisses, the bracelets, the laughs and friendships – but what I’ll miss most is how they make me feel about myself. But this is definitely not goodbye. I look around Proshyan, Yerevan, and Gyumri and realize that I’ve found my calling; I am home and this is where I belong. I will be back to see my Motherland again, but one day I will permanently call this place home.