The best way to discover Armenia in all its glory, its everyday life and traditions is, perhaps, participating in the Armenian General Benevolent Union’s (AGBU) various summer youth programs, one of which is simply called “Discover Armenia”. This year 50 young men and women participated in the 12th Discover Armenia (DA) Youth Program from the USA, France, United Kingdom, Lebanon, Canada, Dominican Republic and Turkey. As part of the three-week program, participants stayed at the newly-opened AGBU Vahe Karapetian Center. The AGBU Discover Armenia program is open to students, aged 15-18. Participation in voluntary community projects is one of the key components of the program. As part of the community projects the AGBU Discover Armenia Youth Program has cooperated with Fuller Armenia, reaching out to disadvantaged families with housing issues. This year support was offered to the Hayrapetyan family living in Khor Virap village. The family had dreamed of having their own home for 20 over years.

“I have been dreaming about this day for years. Now even my grandson has joined the volunteers in building our house, our own house. I have waited so long to have my own house. I am very grateful to everyone, all the organizers, sponsors, and of course, these young people”, says Raya Hayrapetyan, the new homeowner. One young man, 14-year-old Isahak Karadanayan, will be remembered for a long time to come. Isahak’s parents had given him some pocket money, and during the construction, he decided to give the money to the Hayrapetyan family. He wanted to help.

“I noticed that the family needed money, so I decided to give them some to make them happy. It’s so sad to see Armenian families in need. We should help each other, so that they become happy and enjoy their lives as well”, said Isahak.

Melanie Ekizyan, one of the program participants from the USA, “I have never worked in construction before. This is a wonderful initiative and a very good test of teamwork, communication and it allows us to get to know each other better, find new friends and of course, help these people. We feel happy with what we do. We learn a lot both from the program and each other. This is my second trip to Armenia, which completely differs from the first, when I was accompanied by my parents”.

Between August 15-17, program participants visited Artsakh. During their trip they visited historic monuments, Shushi and Gandzasar, as well as presented new books to the foreign language literature stand of Stepanakert Children’s Library, which has become a wonderful tradition. The stand was established by Discover Armenia participants in 2009, since then, it has expanded with the addition of new foreign language literature each year. As part of their trip, the group also participated in the Grape Blessing Ceremony.

They returned from Artsakh and left for Vanadzor the following morning to visit the children of one of the orphanages in the city. The group brought stationery, clothes and other presents with them. Two of the program participants, Victor and Catherine from the USA had fundraised before coming to Armenia. The 3850 US dollars donated will be allocated to new bedding for the children of the orphanage. This visit of Diaspora-Armenian young men and women to the Shirak region of Armenia, was an unforgettable experience where they had the chance to admire the ruins of Ani and our historic lands that remained in Western Armenia. The program curriculum also included Armenian traditional dance classes, songs and pottery. At the end of the program participants showed what they had learned during the concert at the AGBU and Mother See’s Nork Children’s Center. The group also visited Etchmiadzin, Tsaghkadzor, Sardarapat, Tsitsernakaberd, Khor Virap, Geghard, Garni, Sevan and the Vazgenian Seminary, Noravank, Matenadaran, AGBU Yerevan office and Armenian Virtual College. The group was also present at the 6th pan-Armenian games in Armenia which coincided with the program dates, to support Diaspora-Armenian athletes from various countries.

Like all the other AGBU youth programs, the Discover Armenia program aims to provide a unique opportunity to our Diaspora-Armenian youth to discover their Homland and their roots, face difficulties and overcome them. It also serves as an excellent opportunity for these young men and women from around the world to get to know with each other and discover new cultures and traditions.

AGBU Discover Armenia Program was first launched in 2003. Thanks to AGBU Discover Armenia Program almost 400 Diaspora- Armenians from more than 25 countries have discovered Armenia and all that it has to offer. The program is headed by Hermine Duzian, who is the AGBU Diaspora-Armenian Youth Programs Coordinator.






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