[YPT]: A Journey of Discovery
September 11, 2013
This year marked the 18th year that enthusiastic young professionals discovered their homeland with FAR during the Young Professionals Trip (YPT) to Armenia 2013. The trip participants, including professionals from the fields of health, journalism, construction management, and music, spent two weeks in Armenia discovering its history, culture, and people.
Under the guidance of FAR’s Project Director Arto Vorperian and tour guide, historian, and comedian extraordinaire Galust Hovsepyan, the YPs explored monumental historical sites, such as Garni, Ambert, Sardarabad, and the tomb of Mesrob Mashots. They also discovered the wealth of the Christian Armenian faith in the churches of Geghard, Saghmosavank, St. Hripsime, St. Gayane, Khor Virab, Noravank, and the majestic Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin. The highlights of the cultural visits were perhaps the visionary filmmaker and artist Sergei Parajanov’s museum and an invigorating performance by the Barekamutyun Dance Ensemble.
An exciting feature of this year’s program was a trip to Artsakh, where the participants had the opportunity to see the area’s natural, breathtaking view and visit the historical Shushi and Gandzasar. Seeing the bustling town of Stepanakert and the scores of young children throughout Artsakh, it was exhilarating to witness the rapid development of such a young state.
In addition to discovering Armenia’s heritage, our YPs had the chance to meet the Armenian people and learn about FAR’s programs. They visited the FAR Children’s Center, FAR’s soup kitchen in Gyumri, and GTech. As a special treat, the participants were treated to two concerts (!) – one at each of the music schools that FAR has helped renovate: the Octet School in Gyumri (which is opening its doors in just a few days) and the Oshakan Music School. Center.
Whether it was the breathtaking greenery in Dilijan, the views of Tatev, the delicious taste of Armenian wine, the smile of a child, the warmth of a grandmother, the sweet tunes of the land, or exciting new and innovative ventures in Armenia, each participant seemed to make a special connection with a special aspect of Armenia that spoke dearly to his or her heart. The travelers made another special bond, as well – with each other, the keepers of the cherished memories they made on this remarkable discovery of themselves, their roots, and their role in the future of Armenia.
There are some 23 nice photos with this article in link below or article link above:
Young Pros Discover Homeland
Posted 11 September 2013 - 04:31 PM
[YPT]: A Journey of Discovery
Posted 14 October 2013 - 10:13 AM
The Armenians: The Most Resilient, Resourceful, and Obstinate People
October 14, 2013
My first experience of Armenia on the FAR Young Professionals trip was nothing short of profound, in all ways.
10 years ago, I was only dimly aware of Armenia’s existence at all. My closest point of reference for the entirety of Armenian culture was Serj Tankian and System of a Down. I began my rather rapid education of all things Armenian in 2010 when I started dating the girl who would eventually be my wife*. She lived the first years of her life in Yerevan, and has visited regularly since leaving. She would often make comments like “These bell peppers are nothing like the ones in Armenia,” or “This bread reminds me of Armenian Matnakash, only Matnakash is way better” or “The figs in America are so tiny and flavorless.”
Along with my education in Armenian foods, I began learning bit by bit about Armenia’s history and culture, and became more enthralled with each new piece. So, when we decided to go on the YP trip, I wasn’t just excited to try out my six words of Armenian on some real locals. I was looking forward to experiencing firsthand everything I had been told about, from the millennial-age monasteries, to the lush beauty of Artsakh, to the 80-dram ice creams, and even to the extra-strength July sun and heat.
Of course, the trip ended up being so much more than just what I expected. I was surprised nearly every day by some unexpected discovery. The monastery at Geghard may have been my favorite. I’ve been inside a handful of European gothic cathedrals, each one being a huge, towering and cavernous structure that seems to be attempting to reach the heavens themselves. Geghard, however, was built the opposite way: into the rock of a mountainside and into the earth of Armenia. I thought it spoke volumes about the Armenia’s religious identity, its roots, and I felt it to be one of the only places I’ve ever been that was truly suffused with spirituality and profundity.
The greatest thrill came on our journey to the Tatev monastery via the world’s longest aerial tramway. When you make the pass over the final tower and the ground is suddenly 1,000 feet further beneath you, it’s infinitely better than any IMAX fly-over shot, 3D or no.
Not every surprise was like Geghard and Tatev, though. Some were certainly more sobering. We were given the chance to see some of FAR’s longstanding projects such as a soup kitchen in Gyumri, and their Children’s Center in Yerevan. At both places we were greeted with immense energy and vigor. Adults and kids alike were incredibly vivacious and spirited. They did in fact represent some of the most disenfranchised parts of the Armenian population. I felt very mixed emotions during these moments. It was abundantly clear that these people had undergone intense hardships. Knowing that a significant portion of the population lives in immensely adverse conditions was a painful realization. On the other hand, to say their unshakeable optimism and vivacity was heartwarming would be a gross understatement. Clearly there’s much progress to be made in Armenia. But understanding what FAR and other organizations are striving to realize each day was perhaps the most important discovery I made.
I saw many manifestations of the uncertain future in Armenian faces. But for each of these instances, I also witnessed moments of pure optimism. I can truly say that Armenians are the most resilient, resourceful, and (in the best way) obstinate people I have met (not even mentioning the wicked sense of humor). There is no doubt in my mind that I will be returning to Armenia in the future.
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