This year’s “Discover Armenia” AGBU youth trip brought to Armenia 31 Diaspora-Armenians from Belgium, Canada, Great Britain, France, Syria and USA. Under the supervision of Hermine Duzian, AGBU Diaspora Youth Programs Coordinator in Armenia, the program, which is eight years old, started on August 6th and lasted until August 25th. As always a rich and variable program was prepared for the participants full of sightseeing tours and visits to the ancient Armenian monuments, meetings with prominent political and social figures, cultural events, and volunteer humanitarian and community activities. The group visited Etchmiadzin, Tsitsernakabert, St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, Matenadaran Museum of Ancient Armenian Manuscripts, Cafesjian Museum, Garni, Geghard, Sevan, Noravank, Khor Virap, Goris. They traveled to Artsakh and ascended Mount Aragats.

On August 24th, together with the participants of another AGBU youth program from France - UGAB Jeunes - the “Discover Armenia” group was received by His Holiness Karekin II at the Holy See of St. Etchmiadzin. An important goal of the program is to spread and promote among the Diasporan youth the ideas of voluntary community activities and providing practical support to the homeland. Collaboration with the “Fuller Center for Housing Armenia” has become a tradition. This year the two organizations held a joint construction project in Kaqavadzor village of Aragatsotn region of Armenia, on August 15-17. The humanitarian aspect of the trip included visits to the Mary Izmirlian orphanage and AGBU and Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Senior Dining Centers.

The youth spent a whole day in each of these establishments talking to its residents, organizing interesting and funny games for the orphanage children and serving meals to the elderly. The participants paid a three-day visit to Karabakh, went to different historical and cultural monuments, also visited the villages in Hadrut region of NKR that have been reconstructed and repopulated by the AGBU. Donations of books to the Children’s Library of Stepanakert has become a part of “Discover Armenia”. The library’s foreign language pavilion was established by the 2009 participants of “Discover Armenia” and since then, each new group of participants of the program visits the library and donates new books in foreign languages to the pavilion. Other activities included a visit to the Yerevan Cognac Factory, participation in the grape blessing day festivities in Saghmosavank, opening and closing ceremonies of the 5th pan-Armenian games and the opening of “Tumo” center for creative technologies.

Their group also visited the AGBU Armenian Representation, got acquainted with the Union’s programs in Armenia and Artsakh, as well as the activities of the AGBU Armenian Virtual College, attended the concert of the students of the AGBU and Holy See Children’s Centers. When asked what was the major difference between visiting Armenia as part of a family trip and as a participant of an AGBU youth program some confessed that during previous trips with family they were able to discover the beauty of Yerevan through it's streets, stores and restaurants while as part of the program they were able to see the real Armenia and create lifelong ties with people their age from all around the world.