Narine and Jora getting married

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 at work

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.

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Jora was born and raised in Armenia, and has spent more than six years volunteering for the Ministry of Defence and helping the Artsakh protection organization to equip the borders. He assists with engineering related work and has a large team of volunteers working with him. Narine caught Jora’s eye in a video made at the cross stone studio in Yerevan, as he recognized her from her time at the TUMO Center in Gyumri. He decided to find the studio she worked at, so he could visit her.

One night when Jora was in Yerevan visiting a friend, they stumbled upon the cross stone studio while on a late night walk. He recognized the studio from the video through its pomegranate symbol. Jora took a photo of the studio and sent it to Narine to spark up a conversation, but it was sadly short-lived. He reached out to her again, but this time about the Sevan Summit start up volunteer opportunity, inviting her to it. Sometime after that, he stopped by the studio one evening to see her. This was their first official meeting, but for Jora, from the first time he saw her, he knew that Narine was the one. They met in July 2019 and spent 2 months dating and getting to know each other.

Narine never thought she would get married, but meeting Jora changed all that. She is someone who thinks with her head and not her heart, yet with Jora, it happened suddenly. When her parents came to Armenia for the first time to visit, she mentioned that there was a guy she wanted them to meet, but they did not know anything about him yet. While on a family excursion in Gyumri, Jora took on the role of a tour guide and through this, bonded with Narine’s dad as he showed them around. It did not take long for Narine’s parents to put the pieces together and figure out that something was going on between the two. While exploring Gyumri, Narine and her family ran out of time and did not get a chance to stop by the popular Ponchik Monchik café for some sweet treats. As a result, Jora very kindly had ponchiks delivered from Gyumri to Yerevan for her parents, which yet again, showed his strong affections for their daughter. He very much wanted his parents to meet Narine as well, as he had told them that he had met a girl and fallen in love. Days later, it happened. Narine ended up meeting Jora’s parents and from there, it was all history.

The couple planned to hold their engagement in Beirut, Lebanon in April 2020, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they were forced to postpone it till July, and changed the location of the ceremony to Dadivank in Artsakh instead. However, on the day of the engagement, the war in Artsakh broke out and they were forced to postpone it again. They decided to finally hold their engagement in Beirut as originally planned, however it was postponed again, due to the explosion that occurred in the city. The final try for the engagement was set to happen on Narine’s birthday in October in Dadivank, but the war broke out again. Everyday until mid-November, both Narine and Jora were busy, until one day there was an announcement that the cross stones had to be retrieved from Dadivank and brought to Echmiadzin. They ended up going there and upon arrival, one of their friends wanted to get baptized there, but it was dark, so using the flashlight from their phones, their friend got baptized. However, the other twist was that Jora and Narine were finally able to get engaged as well. It all came together very unexpectedly, adding yet another unique chapter to their love story. Finally, on October 23, 2021, the couple was able to get married at Saint Gayane Church in Echmiadzin.

Jora and Narine now live in Gyumri and neither can visualize a life outside of Armenia.

Visit Birthright Armenia ( or its sister organization, Armenia Volunteer Corps ( for more information.



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