My EVS mission in Armenia. youth,job, country, people

Barev! I am Colette from France!
Crazy about traveling and with a deep will to discover the world I decided to follow my goal of living in many different countries by doing an EVS here in Armenia. As I studied social economy and development it was obvious for me to help and work in an association such as KASA. I was looking for an experience that could combine being abroad and getting some work experience, so I considered that EVS program was perfect for me! I am a very curious person that loves intercultural challenges and intercultural exchanges. Thus, Armenia was the perfect country to be out of my cultural comfort
zone and to learn from this old and valuable civilization. Here I am involved in several projects, mostly non-formal educations one. I give some french classes
in a couple of primary and secondary schools in Gyumri, the second biggest city of Armenia where I live and work. In total we visit about 10 different classes and we initiate some theater plays projects with the kids. Most of them are very motivated which creates an amazing energy while teaching! I eventually have the chance to be helped by some other Armenian francophone volunteers to do the translation to the kids if needed.
The second project I am involved in concerns citizenship and youth. I oversee the Francophone Club where we organize several debates dealing with controversial or essential topics for citizenship sense development. This project is for me a fabulous chance to get to know more about Armenian mindset, values, and culture through reflections and arguments they use during the debates. EVS volunteers can also propose their personal project to the association. Mine is to create a participative web-radio that promotes new sustainable alternatives that are emerging after the velvet revolution the country had in April 2018.
Eventually Armenia is a country full of surprises where its people are amazingly warm and welcoming. Indeed, Armenia is more than country to visit, it’s a place to live in !

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My name is Kasia, I come from Poland, I am 24 years old and I’m doing my EVS in Gyumri in Armenia. Why did I choose this country? A bit by accident…
After finishing my studies I wanted to go abroad to change surroundings, gain some
experiences in working abroad, use my skills and knowledge which I already obtained, and of course have time to think deeper about what I would like to do with my life.
In my city Gdynia, I met Almira – an Armenian girl, who was doing her EVS there. She said that there would be an EVS project in her home city of Gyumri. I got interested in Armenia; I didn’t know a lot about it, but I also had to hurry with making my decision, because the project started in a few weeks. I had just finished my studies, so I decided to try and three weeks later I was already in Armenia.
To be honest I wasn’t astonished from the first sight. I came in the middle of October, so it was still hot. I remember my first way from Yerevan to Gyumri, landscapes were so empty, the ground was so dry, and only desert was around. Gyumri also seemed to be in endless renovation.
Later I got to know that it is one of the result of tragic history of this city. 30 years ago there was an enormous Earthquake, where many people died and almost the whole city was reduced to ruin. There are still many abandoned half-collapsed buildings and works to rebuilt city to the past greatness last till these days. Despite of it Gyumri is an example of pure and totally unique Armenian architecture, which we can see having a walk on beautifully restored old town with traditional Armenian houses.
The lifestyle here is also much more different than in Europe. Despite that Gyumri is the
second biggest city in Armenia, it’s rather calm. Normally nightlife is not really developed, though from time to time there are organized different events and concerts when all the young people take part in. Gyumri is also really traditional. For Armenians the most important value is a family, so really quick I discovered their enormous hospitality, being invited for dinners with a lot of delicious, traditional food and all members of my friends’ family around.
In my organization KASA we run different activities with local youth, like language classes as well as art and discussions clubs in which I take part or lead with other volunteers. Thanks to that I can integrate with local youth and make friendships. KASA gives a lot of opportunities to take an initiative if we have any our ideas for projects or some thematic clubs. The atmosphere here is very positive thanks to the other workers, who are always very friendly and willing to help. Everyday we try to spend time with whole team by preparing and eating lunches together. In my free time I try to know the city better or spend time with local people and other volunteers. I enjoy just meeting for Armenian coffee or gathering at home and cooking something together. I like to exercise, so I found places to ride horses or do yoga.
It’s not always an easy time to live abroad, but I am learning a lot about myself, about
communication between people from different cultures. I am learning to observe behaviors of Armenians without judging and trying to find deeper meanings of our cultural differences. I also try to take some values from the Armenian culture which I really appreciate and would like to use them in my life, like the importance of spending time with the family, eating together, and hospitality.

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from Colette and Kasia

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