Birthright Armenia alumni reunion 2007

Birthright Armenia alumni reunion 2007


Alumni line-dance after tonir lavash

baking demonstration and lunch

Yerevan, Armenia ?Whether it be painting walls of a long-term home for disabled individuals or  hearing about the blossoming corporate culture from the director of a leading mobile phone company, the feelings expressed by a collective of alumni volunteers who returned to the Homeland this summer are unanimous.  Rewarding.  Meaningful.  Spiritually invigorating. 


Eighteen young adults from the US, Canada, Great Britain and Syria, who represent a very active segment of the Birthright Armenia alumni base, returned for the inaugural Alumni Reunion Week sponsored by Birthright Armenia, eager to reminisce on their past experiences as volunteers, but more importantly, to ?give back? to the country.  This time around, however, their days wouldn?t be spent working 9-5.  As participants of the nine-day reunion activities, they came ready to solidify their existing connections and to create new relationships with young colleagues with whom they share many commonalities, most of all future community leadership initiative.   Their action-packed itinerary included a balance of educational and cultural events, community service and social tie-in meetings with youth. 


?The best memories are not so much of the entire trip, but of small individual experiences like teaching small children rugby and algebra at the Khor Virap village, learning ethnic dance from a leading instructor in Armenia, and seeing a young boy sing about the mother he never knew in SOS Children's Village in Kotayk province?, comments Armand Sarvarian, a law student in London, who volunteered his services for the Armenian Young Lawyers Association in 2005.  ?It's really the little experiences that were the most profound and meaningful for me,? he continues. 


In addition to the above, the alumni did a collaborative house build with partner organization Habitat for Humanity,  actively participated in a mixer with local university students at Common Ground to discuss Javakh and Nagorno-Karabagh, visited the ruins of the medieval capital of Ani from the Armenian-Turkish border, explored caves in Yeghegnatsor, and so much more. 


Having nearly four years of experience and history with sponsoring volunteers since its inception, the time seemed right to convene as many of them as possible in Armenia for this first-ever organizational event.  Ms. Adrienne Tashjian, of Winchester, MA, although thousands of miles away from the frontline of reunion activities, is someone who understands the importance of working toward strengthening the bridge between Diaspora and Homeland youth.  She generously wrote a check that financed the entire reunion to show her appreciation and support for Birthright Armenia and the organization?s steadfast commitment to its alumni. 


Sarvarian adds, ?I decided to attend the reunion in order to keep up my ties with the Homeland, to gradually prepare myself for repatriation in a few years' time.  I think the experience as a whole taught me both how far I've come in terms of cultural knowledge, and also showed me how far I have yet to go?.


Dzovinar Derderian, a graduate student at Georgetown University, volunteered at the Information Office of the Council of Europe in 2004, and has made multiple trips back to Armenia since.  ?It was great reconnecting with many of the alumni and seeing how some have come back not just as tourists, but have either moved to Armenia or are contributing to it in some ways?, says Derderian.  ?It was also great realizing the great network that has been created among the Armenian diasporan youth through Birthright, which gives me great hope for the future of Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora.?


This fall the organization will begin planning another alumni reunion in Armenia for summer 2008, to mark the fifth anniversary of Birthright Armenia?s launch in Armenia. 

Birthright Armenia?s mission is to strengthen ties between the homeland and diasporan youth by affording them an opportunity to be a part of Armenia?s daily life and to contribute to Armenia?s development through work, study and volunteer experiences, while developing a renewed sense of Armenian identity.


Press Release by Birthright Armenia
Contact: Linda Yepoyan
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: (Banner on the right side is hosted by Azad-Hye).


Border visit Volunteers

Visit to the Turkish-Armenian

border near Ani?s ruins

Hagop Cutujian (AVC 2006),

Taline Kavazanjian (AVC 2005)

and Stephanie Ash (CYMA 2005)

on a house build in Khor Virap