Archive for February, 2009

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Why did I decide to go to Armenia this year?

February 23, 2009

My Armenian grandfather, Aram, immigrated to the United States in the early 1920’s. He eventually settled in Minnesota and he and I were very close.

However, he did not share his Armenian heritage with his family, but was very supportive of local and Armenian causes. Since I did not understand my own Armenian background, I was very curious about it, especially in my late twenties. Since then I have discovered and fallen in love with the Armenian church, its people, and its culture.

I am on the Parish Council of the only Armenian Apostolic church in Minnesota, and I am active in the Women’s Guild. I have delved into Genocide readings and lectures, researched Armenia online and through publications, and talked with Armenians from Armenia as well as diasporan communities. When someone visits Armenia, whether it be for the Peace Corps, or to help build homes, or to provide support to relief agencies, they all say one is changed forever. I hear it is the trip of a lifetime and I am very much looking forward to it.

Amy Samelian – YP 2009

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2009 YP itinerary has been posted.

February 18, 2009

I just wanted everybody to know that the itinerary for the 2009 trip has been posted. Please check it out @ http://www.farusa.org/

– Arto

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Sweet Memories

February 18, 2009

Traveling to Armenia on a trip organized by Arto is really amazing. I had the chance a couple years back to go on a Diocesan pilgrimage he led — he is apparently one of the most loved and most connected people in Armenia. He knew everyone, everyone knew him, and his knowledge really made our trip uniquely memorable, even for an odar like me!

Arto made the YP sound like so much fun. Not only do the YPs get to see all the sites (and somehow Arto packs them all in), but they really get to experience the culture and people of Armenia. I hope one day soon (before I loose the Y in YP) to join one of those trips.

Like I said, our trip was an amazing life-changing experience for everyone. Each of us (from the college students to the couple celebrating their 40th anniversary) came away really knowing Armenia. A lot of people ask me if Armenia was like I thought it would be, and I honestly say no. Though I had read almost everything about Armenia, I realized I didn’t know it until I got there. It’s so varied – traditional and modern, desert and lush forest, foreign and comforting. I truly didn’t expect to have such a wide spectrum of experiences.

And don’t get me started on the “Bonchik” at Grand Candy! Warm, fried donuty dough with powdered sugar! Worth the trip just for that.

Jake Goshert

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My First Post

February 10, 2009

Hi Everybody.

I am Arto, working with the Fund for Armenian Relief here in New York.

I had the pleasure to lead young and enthusiastic people on our yearly trips to Armenia since 1995 and am very excited to get our first blog ever going.

So many stories to tell, so many photos to share. And now we are going to do exactly that, on this blog and our upcoming Facebook page.

Moreover, I will, from time to time, update you and all interested in our upcoming trip in June 2009. Stay tuned, share, ask questions, and be part of the journey (re)discovering Armenia.

Yours,
Arto

PS: If you were one of the previous participants of our trips from 1995 to 2008 and want to share your story – just call, leave a comment, or drop as an e/mail (far@farusa.org) and we let you in…

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Armenian Impressions

February 9, 2009

There is nothing like arriving at Yerevan’s airport for the first time. There is anxiety, suspense, and Armenian being spoken around you. It’s strange and wonderful at the same time. Here we were returning to a home that we never knew! For years I watched friends visit Armenia. They returned home a bit transformed/moved by the experiences.

At first I was afraid and nervous to be honest. Armenia was apart of the Soviet Union and perhaps too much Regan propaganda hit to my core. When I made the decision, I recruited my friend Keri for the journey. We arrived after many hours of flying in Yerevan very late and wanted to go out. Arto took us to Republic Square for beer and pistachio nuts. The night marked the beginning of my love affair with a place that outside of Armenian school remained a mystery to me. For two weeks we traveled and visited the places that I learned about in Armenian school. The nuns were not lying. These places were real.

To top it off, our leader Arto ensured that we gained a real understanding of the country, its culture, and the current challenges in the most comfortable way for a Westerner. The people, sights, and landscapes are a bit magical. Were the cultural differences between what I thought being Armenian was? Yes. Has that deterred me from returning? No. This trip kicked off many of my world trips to follow. It also helped me in my perception of how I look at the world while not in the US. It was a wonderful introduction to Armenia and I highly recommend participating for your first trip to Armenia.

Robin Barone – YP 2002