By Lilian Galstanian
YEREVAN — Armenia is a place of opportunity; a place to call home. Here, you can settle down and create a life surrounded by the Armenian community and culture. If you open your heart and mind to the idea of exploring the endless possibilities in Armenia, you will without a doubt fall in love with everything the beautiful country has to offer. This is the story of how a Birthright Armenia volunteer, Narine Poladian from Lebanon, and a local Armenian, Jora Abgaryan, found love in beautiful Armenia.
Narine’s journey in the country began with Birthright Armenia, an organization that offers diaspora from around the world a chance to connect to their roots. Birthright creates opportunities for Armenian volunteers from around the world by carving out a path that allows for self-discovery. Throughout this journey, volunteers are given the chance to explore different paths that they may not have been able to pursue in their home countries. All volunteers enter the program with a different mindset and ideal on what it is that they wish to pursue and achieve during their time in Armenia.
Narine is an alumna now and has repatriated to Armenia to begin the next chapter of her life, along with her now husband, Jora, whom she met in Armenia.
Born and raised in Beirut, Narine came to Armenia in 2018 with little knowledge on the Birthright program and what it would entail. She had been to Armenia once before in 2014 for camp, and while during this trip she was able to explore the country, she did not get the chance to connect with many people. Therefore, with encouragement from her friend, she applied and started her Birthright journey in order to fully immerse herself in the Armenian community and get to know the people.
Narine started off as a volunteer in Gyumri for three months, before transitioning to Yerevan for the next three. In Gyumri, she volunteered for the TUMO and GTC Center teaching AutoCAD and drawing classes for kids. In Yerevan, she volunteered at an architecture office during the weekdays and at a cross stone making studio on weekends. The cross stone studio had caught her eye when she visited Yerevan one weekend and while she had no previous experience with cross stone work, she was eager to learn. Her persistence landed her an opportunity at the studio, which allowed her to take part as a student and learn the craft of cross stone making. Eventually, as she developed her skills and was already keen on staying in Armenia permanently, she was able to land a job at the studio and then work her way up to making unique souvenir cross stones in Gyumri. Getting involved with cross stone work is actually how she met Jora.