Hasmig Tatiossian recently spent a month in Armenia, first as a participant in the Hayastani Kidak Society’s Young Professionals Trip. A FAR ACYOA intern, she also spent time working with FAR staff, visiting project sites and spending time at the FAR Children’s Center. Below is a note she sent to staff a week after returning to the U.S.

Dear FAR team,

It’s now been a week that I’ve returned to New Jersey, and have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about my experiences there, with you, at many of the FAR project sites and the Children’s Center. I appreciated the time you spent introducing the projects to me and answering my numerous questions. I was particularly moved by my interactions with everyday folks who make up the constituency that FAR benefits.

My experience in Armenia was multi-faceted. In addition to becoming acquainted with the procedural aspects and goals of FAR’s work, I also had the opportunity to accompany you to “the field.” Whether visiting needy families in the Kotayk marz, speaking to residents who still live in temporary housing in Gyumri, interacting with the elderly at the VOAH, spending time with employees and patrons at soup kitchens, watching shows put on by the children at the Children’s Center, or responding to a case of domestic violence/child abuse in Yerevan, I had the chance to witness and assess the diverse needs that FAR addresses. Aside from the information-gathering segment of the work, I also appreciated being present and listening to people’s stories. These interactions were the most powerful and meaningful experiences I had in Armenia. Poverty, child neglect, unemployment, or domestic violence are all statistics I regularly read, but the opportunity to see the human face of “numbers,” to speak with those most directly affected, paints a picture in one’s mind that’s difficult to forget — nor should be forgotten. I’m grateful to have been able to bear witness to some of the struggles, as well as the human spirit that seeks to surmount them.

You each shared with me a unique piece of the puzzle that makes up FAR, and I’m deeply thankful for your insights, time, and dedication to the work. There were several people I didn’t have the chance to meet or spend enough time with, and it is my hope that we can make up for that the next time I’m in Armenia or you’re in the States.

Warmest Regards,
Hasmig Tatiossian

Gorge at Garni

Credit: Hasmig Tatiossian