Well, this is it. After nearly two weeks of touring Armenia and Karabagh with this year’s Young Professionals Trip, I’m back in Yerevan for the rest of the summer. It’s a little surreal — we saw quite a bit of this city during the trip and parts of it began to feel familiar and comforting. Now all of those different places we visited are starting to feel congruent.
Despite my haze from prolonged sleep depravation, a conversation with some of my co-workers this morning started to open things up even more. We discussed the high unemployment that drives so many Armenians out of their homeland and the obstacles women in particular often face to get work — the need to be attractive or young enough to get the job as opposed to professionally qualified, for example. While some of it was grim, they also emphasized something very important that all Armenians need: hope. Without this, many won’t even try to stay here in their homeland. Without this, others won’t strive to further educate themselves. Instead, they’ll simply continue to look for ways to leave, and even abandon their families in the process. So FAR’s mission to build the country’s intellectual capital, give Armenia’s people opportunity, and engage the Diaspora is an extremely important task. My first two weeks helped me delve beyond the program descriptions and reports I’ve read for the past year or so, and now I get to see how things are really done. I look forward to having my perspective changed even more.