A Birthday in Martuni

Youth Corps volunteer Nairi Dulgarian in Martuni on her birthday


As a summer baby, I always seem to be away from home on my birthday every year. Whether I’m with my friends at AYF Camp or with my family on a beach in Hawaii, Glendale is rarely the place I spend my birthday. This year was no different.

On Monday, I had the privilege of celebrating my 20th birthday in Martuni. Since I am again not at home, I wasn’t really expecting too much, because we have all been preoccupied with camp activities. A quick song and a small cake would have sufficed. However, instead I got an experience I’ll definitely remember for the rest of my life.

From the moment we walked through the school gates to begin our day at camp, I was greeted by campers with hugs, kisses, Russian “happy birthday” balloons, flowers, and gifts. Each gift I received was homemade and unique, and it was clear that each camper put a great amount of thought and effort into it. The rest of the day, not a second went by that I wasn’t reminded about my birthday. I heard about a hundred “շնորհաւոր ծնունդ”s, was asked how old I was countless times, and was carried up in a scary moment during a dance party (I still feel bad about pulling Vahe’s and Puzant’s hair, sorry guys).

Nairi Dulgarian celebrates her birthday with her fellow Youth Corps colunteers

After an already amazing day at camp, I came home to a birthday party hosted by my group, complete with pasta, garlic bread, two cakes baked by residents of Martuni, and, of course, birthday themed cups and plates. It’s safe to say that I have never felt as special and appreciated as I did that day, nor has my face ever been so red from smiling and blushing.

The love and attention I received on my birthday fully reveals the character of the people of Martuni, as well as the group of participants I came here with. I have known most of these people, both the residents of Martuni and many of my group members, for only one or two weeks, yet every single one of them went out of their way to make sure that I have a day to remember. It goes to show how in this short time, we have truly become a family and created a bond unlike any other. It really was the best birthday ever, and I’m looking forward to creating more memories like this throughout the rest of this life changing trip.


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  1. Steve said:

    I hope you can spend every birthday in our hayrenik, what a beautiful gift that is to your ancestors.

  2. Steve said:

    I hope you can spend every birthday in our hayrenik, what a beautiful gift that is to your ancestors.

  3. Stephen T. Dulgarian said:

    Hi Nairi; Happy Birthday on your 20th year and enjoy your six weeks in lovely Armenia. Take a lot of pictures on this tour. Your Grandparents Pop & Mom Dulgarian