Contributor: Kathryn Dermenjyan
After an amazing weekend spent relaxing, keffing, and exploring the indescribable beauty that is Tatev, we jumped into week 2 of HRI camp with little to no time for preparation.
Despite this, the day went smoothly—almost too smoothly for a Monday. The nervousness and newness of the first week—referred to by Pato (Patrick) as ‘one giant icebreaker’—was over, and coming back to the village felt like a homecoming. The flow of the camp schedule, the names of the children, all the details of village life came naturally; it felt like we had lived in Shvanidzor and known these people for years.
We had lessons in the morning, Vartavar: Day 2 in the afternoon, and an American Independence Day celebration in the evening. We essentially spent all day with these wonderful children, and although some of my colleagues are probably doing the smart thing by not getting attached to them, I feel like all 60-some of them are my brothers and sisters.
It’s going to be very hard to leave Shvanidzor not because the bathroom amenities are so comfortable (sarcasm); not because we’ve finally gotten good at swatting flies and dodging bugs and we’re not going to have as much use for that skill anymore; not because the food here has exponentially more taste units than food in the States; not even because of the amazing pomegranate wine you can only find here. It is going to be hard to leave this village because of the love and respect that has surrounded us since we got here. Armenians are known for their hospitality, but the people of Shvanidzor are not just hospitable; they love us. They shower us with attention and care and brotherhood. They don’t begrudge us room in their homes or food on their table. They trust us with their children, they are interested in what we have to offer, and they welcome us back to our ancient motherland with open hearts.
They love us, and we love them. Our nightly reflection tonight revealed that we are all already anticipating how strange it is going to be to wake up next week and go about our ‘normal lives’.
We technically only have two more days here, but we know we can always come back to the home we’ve found in Shvanidzor.