Akhpradzor, Armenia--Nanor Balabanian
From being unable to properly hold a mouse, to setting up a personal gmail account, the children of Akhpradzor have impressed us all with their quick comprehension and utility of their new computers in their school.
It has been an unforgettable few weeks here at Akhprdazor for both our HRI team and the villagers. They had never seen anything like our computers and we had never seen anything like their village life.
The village learned a lot from us, but we really learned a lot more from them. Our cultures were extremely different, but our Armenian blood united us all. On our final night, nearly 25 of us sat at one small table in our host family’s house. That’s when it all started. Genats after Genats (toast after toast). Every villager and intern toasted for the project, for the village, for the Armenian nation, for the diasporans, for the dadigs and babigs, for the beautiful village children, for our nation’s well being, for friendship, for our mothers and fathers, for our relatives.
It was such a unifying moment. I couldn’t feel anything different from anyone around me. Although the woman next to me milked cows, worked in the fields all day, took care of her family and her animals, and didn’t get off her feet from dawn to dusk, there was nothing different between me and her at that moment.
We were one.
Yes, we were all one.
There is no stronger feeling than the feeling of unity, of shared history, or a common ground. It is that commonality that bonds people together. If it weren’t for our shared vision and goal, our project would not have been a success. But because of the collaboration of teams across the world, and because of the shared understanding that what we were doing was going to be beneficial to the village, our project came true.
But what is more, is that, aside from the computer lab and internet access, there was something much bigger that happened. Real influential relationships and bonds were built amongst the students and the interns. The bond that formed between us was much more important than any single computer, or any lab.
These children who literally have nothing but their families, mountains, and animals went crazy over the 2-week-long attention they got from people outside their village. They loved the computers but moreover they just loved the time they could spend with the interns.
Some mornings the kids would bring us the flowers they collected on their way to school. Other mornings they would run towards us as we came to unlock the classroom doors. It was moments like these that touched our lives forever.
Yes, difficulties and health issues came in our way, such as food poisoning, diarrhea, fever, weakness, etc., but nothing could ever stop our team from surviving the village life and finishing what we started.
This is only a beginning towards a bigger project. It is only the start of a new Armenia. Akhpradzor will forever stay in our hearts. We will never forget the forgotten.
We will always find the hidden road.