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AGBU “DISCOVER ARMENIA” 2009 A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO GET ACQUAINTED WITH HOMELAND AND PARTICIPATE IN COMMUNITY WORKS

“Discover Armenia” has its significant place among the youth programs of Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU). Every year it brings 15-18-year-old Diasporan-Armenian youth to spend an unforgettable vacation in Armenia. This year, from August 7-28, 20 youths from Canada, France, Switzerland and USA participated in the “Discover Armenia” program supervised by Hermine Duzian, AGBU Diaspora Youth Programs Coordinator in Armenia. The participants visited St. Etchmiadzin, Sardarapat, Tsitsernakabert, Matenadaran, Garni, Geghard, Sevan, Vaskenian Seminary, Khor Virap, Noravank, Goris and AGBU “Antranik” Scout Camp in Lori region of Armenia, as well as ascended Mount Aragats. Participation in community activities was also part of the program. The youths helped build a house in Haytagh village of Armavir region together with Fuller organization and built a fence in “Zatik” orphanage of Yerevan. They also visited one of AGBU’s Senior Dining Centers in Arabkir district of Yerevan and helped serve food to the seniors having their everyday meal there. During their visit to Karabakh our Diasporan-Armenian youths opened a new foreign language stand in the Children’s Library of Stepanakert presenting a rich collection of school literature to the library. This initiative of library support will continue during the future “Discover Armenia” trips. Taking the chance the youths also visited Gandzasar, Shoushi, and the AGBU-constructed village of Norashen in the Hadrut region of Karabakh. During their trip to Karabakh the group was accompanied by Haig Messerlian, Vice Chairman of the AGBU Southern California District Committee, and his brother Zaven Messerlian, Principal of the Armenian Evangelical College of Beirut. Aline and Mano Khatchadourian, parents of Lia Khatchadourian, one of the participants of Discover Armenia program wrote, “We would like to thank you for giving our kids a life-changing experience in Armenia. They came back appreciating our culture and thankful for what we have. Lia had an amazing three weeks with you and has come back with a better understanding of her heritage, and improved Armenian speaking skills! She made great friends. Lia has been sleeping since she came home. I guess that’s an indication of all the fun she had in Armenia. Lia said she had the most memorable three weeks with you and the group, and will never forget this trip. She also said it was a good mix of cultural, social and community service exposure, with the highlight being the climb up Mt. Arakadz”.