Survival Guide

yc-blog-khachatourian (1)

AYF Youth Corps volunteer Ani Khachatourian with a camper in Proshyan, Armenia

BY ANI KHACHATOURIAN

Dear Future Youth Corps Participant:

You are about to embark on a journey that will change you forever and I’ll start by telling you that it’s okay to go into this with high expectations – I say this with no hesitation because however high they may be, I give you my word they will be exceeded.

You’ll soon be walking down to camp every morning and greeted with herds of children with pictures they drew for you or hugs that will melt your heart and make your day, or a random fact about America that you’ll pretend to be learning for the first time. Soon you’ll be yelling at the top of your lungs at your favorite camper because he’s really talkative, but everything that comes out of his mouth makes you crack up and he’ll still kiss you on the cheek before going home today. You’ll be forming bonds with incredible people, amazing, and beautiful kids. I’m already jealous of you and I still have a week left of Jampar.

I am no longer fazed by the fact that I haven’t slept in a bed in about a month, or that I wake up in a pool of my own sweat more than a couple times a week, or that flies wake me up every morning – I can easily laugh about all of this nowadays. The living situations may not always be ideal, but it doesn’t matter at all. It does not take away from this experience – if anything, it adds to it.

I had written in my pre-departure blog about how I was excited to give back to my country because it has given me so much, but the truth is this country never stops giving. I know in my heart I have accomplished and given a lot this summer, to the kids, to the people, to my new friends, but I have received more than imaginable. For starters, I was removed from my comfort zone and lived in a house with 11 strangers who would soon become my family – as I presumed before getting here. I have had the chance to live in my country as anything but a tourist. I got to really taste what it’s like to be a “deghatsi”, a native in my own country. Imagine that.

We are officially in our last week of Jampar in Proshyan and while exhausted, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we don’t want this week to come to an end – because that means it’s over. As soon as song competition ends on Friday afternoon, (and Red Team wins) it all ends. And that’s the last thing we want.

This is an amazing opportunity, if I haven’t already made that clear. You have made one of the best decisions of your life. I’ve fallen in love with this country in a different way – I can’t wait for you to do the same.

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