Author Archives: Youth Corps

The Locals Only Tour of Gyumri

This past week we have been walking around the parts of Gyumri that we have not had the chance to explore yet. Although Gyumri is a relatively small city, there is a lot to see. Furthermore, if you do not have a Gyumri native to point out interesting sights, a lot of the city will pass by without you noticing. Luckily, we have had some great tour guides to show us around and make sure we don’t miss anything important.

The Mystery of Lasdeever

On Friday the 7th, the group went to the home of the Shirak Gen.Gen. chair, Unger Artak. As we sat down to the smorgasbord of delicacies placed before us, Unger Artak’s mother told us her experience from the day of the earthquake in ’88. The vividness of her story turned the events that happened more than 20 years ago into a reality and reinforced the fact that this region still needs our assistance in whatever way we can. The next day, we took a two-hour ride to a camp site called Lastdeever; a truly enchanting place that met us with many surprises. As if it was pre-planned, the second we got out of the van, it started raining. So, in the rain, we all began what would become an hour and a half hike down the mountain. The hike consisted of extremely muddy terrain, slippery rocks and a constant supply of rain to keep us company. We were also limited in our mobility because we each had our hands full with either sleeping bags or other camping materials. Also, our tour guide was a lumberjack-esque man dressed head-to-toe in camouflage, carrying a multitude of seemingly unnecessary weaponry, including a very loud, sawed-off shotgun he enjoyed shooting at inopportune moments.

Youth Corps: And the Jambar Continues…

Monday marked the beginning of the second session of Youth Corps in Gyumri. We had about 80 kids; many of the campers who were extremely satisfied with the first two weeks of camp came again hoping to register for this session as well. The campers were very enthusiastic, ready to begin a fun-filled week of activities and games.

Yerevan Road Trip!

This weekend was a well needed one. Kevork and I arrived in Yerevan on Friday while the rest arrived Saturday; we got an extra night of fun. The Pan-Armenia games’ opening was the main reason for us taking this road trip and it was well worth it.

Session One Comes to a Close

After a long night of fun in Yerevan, we returned to Gyumri to get back to work. It was the second to last day of camp and all the color groups were practicing for the song competition to take place on Friday. We then had our English lessons, which went as smoothly as it could with 20 energetic kids. Our group activity for the day was a quizbowl on general Armenian knowledge. It was really interesting to see what the campers knew and didn’t considering they live in Armenia.

Armenia, My Love!

It all started with an intense game of UNO with some of the kids before the day started. After lining up and singing Mer Hayrenik, a small white and black puppy was found outside, shaking from the cold. The puppy looked so helpless and we immediately gave her some food and water. After taking care of the puppy for a little bit, the kids did some exercises followed by English class.

Flower Power

It’s Tuesday night and we have now completed seven full days of our “Jampar” in Gyumri. The camp is running much smoother now that we and the children have become more comfortable with the daily routine. But, the kids are still extremely excited. It’s very easy to see that they have never experienced something like this camp. Every game, every song, every activity we do the kids genuinely enjoy. Seeing their looks of amazement when they watch Sensei Berj do some karate moves and the giant smiles on their faces when they do the chicken dance with 18-23 year olds during morning exercises are all we need to let us know that the kids are loving the camp.

Jet Lag Shmet Lag… Let’s Do it!

I have been in Armenia for three days now. I am the last member of the Youth Corps group to arrive due to my sister’s wedding which was last Saturday. My plane landed at 3 o’clock in the morning and Berj’s father was nice enough to pick me up from the airport in the middle of the night and drive me to Gyumri. We got to Gyumri around 7 AM and I was happy to see some familiar faces and some new ones. The Youth Corps group is awesome and I am glad we all get along so well. Within minutes of settling in, I felt as if I was a part of the family and that the two weeks that I missed had no affect on the chemistry of the group.

Our Work Begins

Imagine your summer filled with breath-taking landscape, food that entices your senses, monumental structures, endless laughter, meeting locals that will offer everything in their household to you, and taking on the responsibility of being a counselor/mentor to a group of underprivileged kids. Reality transcends imagination when you find yourself in Gyumri, Armenia.