Posts Tagged ‘samantha mcqueen’

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[FAR’s Intern(s) in Armenia – Samantha]: Garni & Geghard.

July 10, 2010

By Samantha McQueen

It’s day two in Yerevan and I’m loving this city more and more…I’ve even managed to avoid sun burn (knock on wood). We went to a jazz bar for dinner and met some locals. My grasp of the language is still awful but everyone has been surprisingly tolerant. Even the physical atmosphere is great. The sun never sets before 10 pm and parks are filled with families until 2 am. Armenians are night birds, like me.

We were lucky to have the opportunity to visit Garni and Geghard today. It was interesting to see the remains of an Armenian church physically built on the side wall of a 1st century B.C. pagan temple. It makes me proud to descend from a tolerant culture that respected and remembered their past. Tourists flocked from Iran and neighboring countries. The temple and fortress of Garni had something to interest everyone, from Greek-style baths to rolling hills and streams.

Geghard was completely different than anything I’ve ever seen. It was a monastery built into a mountain, almost like an extremely elaborate cave. I won’t lie, if I lived with the views the monastery of Geghard had, I would have been a monk, too. It was surrounded by gorgeous waterfalls and stunning mountain peaks. The cool interior even provided much-needed relief from the 105 degree F heat. I was absolutely amazed with Armenia.

We’re off to eat some fresh food in Ashtarak tomorrow. Ts’tesutyun for now!

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Credit: iPhone & Samantha McQueen

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[FAR’s Intern(s) in Armenia – Samantha]: Arrival.

July 9, 2010

By Samantha McQueen

I’m in Armenia! It still seems surreal. Everyone on FAR’s Young Professional trip seems great so far. We have a diverse group with only three Armenian-speaking travelers and two fluent in Russian and I don’t think my knowledge of Italian will be helpful (even if we are staying in an Italian-owned hotel).

It’s been a long day of traveling and I haven’t quite established my footing yet, but I’m excited to start exploring Yerevan. So far I’ve been on a van tour through the “Little Las Vegas” of Armenia, right outside Yerevan (gambling, interestingly, is illegal inside the city) and we drove between the brandy and beer factories. Needless to say, I need to leave my hotel and see the real Yerevan.

With all this excitement on my plate, jet setting through countries was not as glamorous as it may have seemed. A layover in the non-air conditioned Moscow airport made my seventeen hour trip a little less comfortable. I’m just glad to be here and the long journey just added to the adventure that is my trip to the homeland. I will certainly go into more philosophical depth regarding my place in this country once I finally start exploring. Ts’tesutyun for now!

Hayastanum.

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Credit: Samantha McQueen

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[FAR New York]: To Donate or Not to Donate? The Way I See It. Part 2.

June 22, 2010

By Samantha McQueen

Stemming from my realization that charities actually help my personal esteem, I decided to look at my role in FAR in terms of nationality. As an Armenian-American, and I emphasize the American, I have always felt a little outside of the Armenian culture. I don’t speak the language (the extent of my knowledge is “parev” and “vardig”) and I never felt like 100% Armenians my age ever wanted to know me. So now the charity question comes back to my place in this Diaspora and why I am willing to volunteer my time, which I seem to have so little of, to an Armenian organization. It’s not just about gaining internship experience for my graduate school applications. I truly believe in the FAR cause and building better lives for the citizens of Armenia. I think deep down I feel like I am earning some credit with all the Armenians who think I don’t fit in, but I really do this because it combines that American compulsion to donate, which I discussed in an earlier post, with that pull of my Armenian background. After all, it feels great to make my Medz Mireg (see, there’s some Armenian in me) proud.

In the end I want this American tendency of donating to come to the land of my ancestors and the people who have gone through so much to fight for it. FAR is that charitable outlet for my fellow Armenians and I feel good being a part of the cause. It makes me proud to know that people out there feel the same about the home-country they feel so distanced from. FAR bridges the gap for Americans like me.

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Credit: Lou Bueno via Creative Commons / Flickr

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[FAR New York]: To Donate or Not to Donate? The Way I See It. Part 1.

June 14, 2010

By Samantha McQueen

I’m a poor college student. Actually, I know very few people my age who don’t feel the financial pinch of college. Then why is it that I feel it is important to donate to charities like FAR? Not just me but so many university students fight for their respective cause. It’s not like we have any money of our own to donate. And since I can’t actually give, I compensate with volunteering. Originally I thought I was following the 21st century trend of celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. But this can’t be it. The average household in America donates $1,000 annually to charitable causes (American.com). Americans as a whole feel that we have a lot to offer as a country of excesses. It almost looks like our superiority complex is advantageous in terms of giving. We like seeing the end result of our excesses. We have some leftover money, so we donate to see what happens. It feels good seeing a picture of a child smiling after receiving a hot meal, especially when you provide that hot meal. This whole concept is obvious when it comes to giving physical money, but time is irreplaceable so volunteering requires a deeper commitment to feeling that satisfaction. It’s not that we never realized that we craved this satisfaction before, Americans just have more outlets and organizations to quench it now.

I guess charity boils down to selfish reasons in the end. I volunteer, therefore I feel good. Simple enough. So it’s not just about that trend, but it’s helping our fellow man to better our mood…like earning brownie points on our own tab. Again, this “obvious” root varies in degree according to the individual. I love what I do here with FAR and I don’t view my internship as a monotonous job. It’s a learning experience for me and fulfills my selfish charitable needs.

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Credit: Tom Small via Creative Commons / Flickr

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[Meet Our Staff]: Samantha McQueen.

June 9, 2010

FAR would like to welcome Samantha McQueen to our summer staff. She is working in the New York office as an intern and remains with us through August. Samantha is an Armenian-American university student and hopes to learn more about the logistics of a non-profit organization before continuing studies in public policy. Her experience includes event planning and marketing with UNICEF Italia. If you could not tell by the name alone, her Scottish Ancestry complements Samantha’s Armenian background. We are sure she will be using this perspective to post her experiences on FAR’s Blog. Please follow her through her internship as she provides a glimpse into the organization from her point-of-view.

Samantha is also updating our Facebook, including both the Hyastani Kidak Society and FAR fan pages, and will begin working on a new project to make FAR’s Facebook “friends” aware of the impact specific programs have on Armenian lives. Along with Yerevan office employee Hasmik Manukyan, she plans to gather information on individual beneficiaries and follow them on their journey to recovery with the help of the organization. Social workers along with other FAR employees help by providing information about new beneficiaries for Hasmik and Samantha. They hope to catch the interests of younger generations.

She looks forward to a busy summer and is excited to share the process with you!

Samantha McQueen

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Credit: Artur Petrosyan