“Connecting Roads, Bridging Issues.” Four words that when put together, spark the urge to become a part of a force of change. Four words that when put together, create the desire to learn more about what separates, distinguishes, and rebuilds. Four words that when put together, push us to become a part of the roads that mend these issues.
When I first heard about the Hidden Road Initiative, I was amazed that one idea, supported by a small group of students, could allocate enough resources to bring change to a place almost 8,000 miles away. The impact of a small effort to provide for the remote community of Akhpradzor demonstrates a commitment to help this town thrive. Before signing up, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend a presentation headed by fellow peers. Hearing their experiences with the village people, and seeing the work they did, made me want to connect with my homeland and with these people. Fall quarter I decided to join this group and become part of this driving force because I realized that a part of the world was benefiting from the dedication of students, students like me.
HRI has strived to work through the distance and connect our society to Akhpradzor. Because the winters are so difficult in the regional areas of Armenia, HRI created the “Winter Coat Project” to collect enough donations to bring warmth to the children in Akhpradzor. HRI members gathered donations by the end of fall quarter, and almost reached our goal to buy the coats for the children. In a matter of weeks, donations were pouring in and people outside our Santa Barbara bubble had heard of our project, and wanted to contribute. The project became a success and the children were extremely excited to receive their gifts, not fully understanding why students on the other side of the world were working so hard for them. What’s most inspiring about HRI is the selflessness and leadership of the individuals involved in this group. It makes us, as a community, realize that we can bring the change in the world, and in order to do so, we must become a part of it.