Stowarzyszenie Projektów Międzynarodowych „INPRO”

My EVS experience in Armenia

My name is Kasia, I come from Poland, I am 24 years old and I’m doing my EVS in Gyumri in Armenia. Why did I choose this country? A bit by accident…

After finishing my studies I wanted to go abroad to change surroundings, gain some experiences in working abroad, use my skills and knowledge which I already obtained, and of course have time to think deeper about what I would like to do with my life. In my city Gdynia, I met Almira – an Armenian girl, who was doing her EVS there. She said that there would be an EVS project in her home city of Gyumri. I got interested in Armenia; I didn’t know a lot about it, but I also had to hurry with making my decision, because the project started in a few weeks. I had just finished my studies, so I decided to try and three weeks later I was already in Armenia.

To be honest I wasn’t astonished from the first sight. I came in the middle of October, so it was still hot. I remember my first way from Yerevan to Gyumri, landscapes were so empty, the ground was so dry, and only desert was around. Gyumri also seemed to be in endless renovation. Later I got to know that it is one of the result of tragic history of this city. 30 years ago there was an enormous Earthquake, where many people died and almost the whole city was reduced to ruin. There are still many abandoned half-collapsed buildings and works to rebuilt city to the past greatness last till these days. Despite of it Gyumri is an example of pure and totally unique Armenian architecture, which we can see having a walk on beautifully restored old town with traditional Armenian houses.

The lifestyle here is also much more different than in Europe. Despite that Gyumri is the second biggest city in Armenia, it’s rather calm. Normally nightlife is not really developed, though from time to time there are organized different events and concerts when all the young people take part in. Gyumri is also really traditional. For Armenians the most important value is a family, so really quick I discovered their enormous hospitality, being invited for dinners with a lot of delicious, traditional food and all members of my friends’ family around.

In my organization KASA we run different activities with local youth, like language classes as well as art and discussions clubs in which I take part or lead with other volunteers. Thanks to that I can integrate with local youth and make friendships. KASA gives a lot of opportunities to take an initiative if we have any our ideas for projects or some thematic clubs. The atmosphere here is very positive thanks to the  other workers, who are always very friendly and willing to help. Everyday we try to spend time with whole team by preparing and eating lunches together.

In my free time I try to know the city better or spend time with local people and other volunteers. I enjoy just meeting for Armenian coffee or gathering at home and cooking something together. I like to exercise, so I found places to ride horses or do yoga.

It’s not always an easy time to live abroad, but I am learning a lot about myself, about communication between people from different cultures. I am learning to observe behaviors of Armenians without judging and trying to find deeper meanings of our cultural differences. I also try to take some values from the Armenian culture which I really appreciate and would like to use them in my life, like the importance of spending time with the family, eating together, and hospitality.