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[FAR Partnerships | ACYOA Dispatches]: The 2010 ACYOA Armenia Service Program Day 3 – Gyumri. standard

By Katrina Shakarian Today we began the service portion of our trip. We’ve divided ourselves into four groups that will be rotating between FAR’s soup kitchen and the Ounjian school. At the soup kitchen, participants helped prepare a meal for the elderly residents of Gyumri. The kitchen provides food for 200 people each day. For most of its beneficiaries, that is the only meal they will be eating all day. Across town, other ASP-ers assisted in renovating the Ounjian school. They spent the day plastering walls. Eventually, they will sand and paint them. Liana and Mitch helping with renovations at the Ounjian school Credit: Katrina Shakarian Armenia is divided into different regions called marzes. Think of them as the equivalents ...

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[FAR Partnerships | ACYOA Dispatches]: The 2010 ACYOA Armenia Service Program Day 2 – Gyumri. standard

By Katrina Shakarian We hit the road Monday morning, and made the 2-hour trip to Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city. It’s located in northwestern Armenia, sitauted close to the Turkish border. Gyumri is known for its artists, actors, poets, and sportsmen. It is Armenia’s cultural capital. It is also known as the site of a devastating earthquake. In 1988, a quake destroyed 80 percent of the city, and took 25,000 lives. Lisa, Paul, and Libby on Route to Gyumri Credit: Katrina Shakarian Our first stop was a local restaurant that farms fish. Lunch was fresh, and barbecued straight out of a pond. Some ASP-ers even got to ride horses. Next, we visited FAR’s Gyumri office. The Fund for Armenian Relief ...

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[FAR Partnerships | ACYOA Dispatches]: The 2010 ACYOA Armenia Service Program Day 1 – Arrival. standard

By Katrina Shakarian Three days ago I woke up on a flight from Paris to Armenia. As I peered out of my tiny window seat, Mt. Ararat came into view. Its snowy peaks, where I’ve learned to anchor my identity, the symbol of our nation, overwhelmed me. Finally, after a lifetime of waiting, we had arrived. Arrival in Yerevan Credit: Katrina Shakarian Since that first glimpse of our homeland, ASP-ers have climbed the walls of Amberd fortress. We’ve lit candles at Samosavank monastery. We’ve tasted fresh lavash, toasted on the walls of a tandyr.  We’ve descended into the tomb of Mesrop Mashtotz at Oshakan village, the founder of our alphabet in 405 A.D. We’ve laid flowers at the Tzitzernakabert Genocide memorial. We’ve visited Keghart monastery, carved ...

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[FAR Partnerships | ACYOA Dispatches]: The 2010 ACYOA Armenia Service Program. standard

A total of 17 young people are taking part in this year’s ACYOA Armenia Service Program, from June 30 to July 20. The three-week trip – which is being led by the Rev. Fr. Tateos Abdalian, with assistance from Katrina Shakarian of Holy Martyrs Armenian Church of Bayside, N.Y. – includes sight-seeing opportunities as well as a service component. In addition to seeing Armenia’s historic, spiritual, and cultural sites, group members will volunteer at the Fund for Armenian Relief’s Ounjian School and Soup Kitchen in Gyumri. This is the first time the ACYOA is partnering with FAR to volunteer in Armenia, as part of a long-term initiative to provide opportunities for young people to visit and serve their homeland. On ...

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[FAR Yerevan]: The Peace Corps Experience – Volunteering in Armenia. standard

By Ashley Killough via ianyan Mag When Danny Lovell, 25, received his country assignment from the Peace Corps, he looked at the word “Armenia” on his invitation—and paused. “I remember thinking, what’s Armenia? What’s in Armenia?” Lovell vaguely recalled studying the Soviet Union in high school, but he knew little about the South Caucasus country. “After I looked at the map, I thought it was in the Middle East because it’s located right above Iran, and I thought I was going to live in the desert for two years.” One month later, on May 29, 2009, Lovell said goodbye to his family in North Carolina and moved to Armenia with dozens of other Americans. For the next three months, the ...

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[FAR New York]: To Donate or Not to Donate? The Way I See It. Part 2. standard

Stemming from my realization that charities actually help my personal esteem, I decided to look at my role in FAR in terms of nationality. As an Armenian-American, and I emphasize the American, I have always felt a little outside of the Armenian culture. I don’t speak the language (the extent of my knowledge is “parev” and “vardig”) and I never felt like 100% Armenians my age ever wanted to know me. So now the charity question comes back to my place in this Diaspora and why I am willing to volunteer my time, which I seem to have so little of, to an Armenian organization. It’s not just about gaining internship experience for my graduate school applications. I truly believe ...

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[FAR New York]: To Donate or Not to Donate? The Way I See It. Part 1. standard

I’m a poor college student. Actually, I know very few people my age who don’t feel the financial pinch of college. Then why is it that I feel it is important to donate to charities like FAR? Not just me but so many university students fight for their respective cause. It’s not like we have any money of our own to donate. And since I can’t actually give, I compensate with volunteering. Originally I thought I was following the 21st century trend of celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. But this can’t be it. The average household in America donates $1,000 annually to charitable causes (American.com). Americans as a whole feel that we have a lot to offer as ...

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