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 new class of volunteers, the 17th group since Armenia opened its doors to Peace Corps in 1992, underwent rigorous training in language and cultural skills. At the same time, they lived with host families in their “training villages,” where they quickly became exposed to the Peace Corps life—one filled, at first, with bucket baths, outhouses and the tedious task of washing clothes by hand.