Contributor: Patrick Babajanian
Participating in HRI 2016 has been an absolutely amazing experience so far, an opportunity and responsibility that I am incredibly grateful to have been granted and entrusted with, respectively.
This trip has been the first time I’ve spent time in an Armenian village, away from the urban rush of the big cities, allowing a quality insight into another, more traditionally rural, aspect of the country of my ancestors. One of my favorite parts of these couple weeks, apart from meeting the people of Shvanidzor and working with my fellow camp leaders, has been getting to experience the nature of the Armenian countryside and getting in touch with a part of the land that has been largely untouched by modern mechanization. That is not to say, however, that modernization is a bad thing; on the contrary, it can provide great improvements to people’s quality of life and in that regard should be encouraged.
Nevertheless, it has been nice to be able to walk through the outskirts of the village, look upon the distant mountains with the sun setting behind them, hear the wind blowing through the valleys, and absorb it all in one transcendental experience. Apart from the regularly used buildings of the village, there were a few that had been run down over the years and which added a level of sad but serenely magical beauty to the scene, one that harkened to days of the past but also inspired hope for the future and the potential of people to make things better. The same spirit of meaning has been reflected in the people of the village I have had the pleasure to have met. So many of them have expressed their powerful dedication to the wellbeing of their home and their ardent desire to ensure its future prosperity. This attitude is in my opinion one of the most significant factors in furthering not only this goal but applying it to a national level if embraced by the population at large.
Overall, I have had an incredible experience so far in Armenia, getting to experience the more explicitly natural side of the country, seeing relics from the past that simultaneously hold hope for the future, and meeting a group of people that have sincerely impressed me.
I can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip holds in store.