Armen was born in 1988, trapped in a collapsed building the night of the earthquake, and has spent much of his life working to improve conditions in his hometown of Gyumri. He studied in both Armenia and the US and currently works for the Gyumri Mayor’s office.
Armen founded the TravelGyumri tour agency, and is also an avid photographer, working to show the world the beauty of Armenian architecture, landscape and culture. He is currently working on a photo documentary about the daily struggle for survival of those still living in container home communities. He is AiP's onsite project partner.
Director, Kumayri Museum Preserve
Interpreter, International Team Coordinator
Become a corporate sponsors & lead efforts to provide safe & affordable housing and boost Gyumri's economy. Historic architecture has been deteriorating since 1988. Action is needed NOW to save Gyumri’s last remaining economic resource.
DBL US$1490 | SGL +US$200
Includes 3-day tour
Discounts! Past participants always receive a discounted tour fee
Check out AiP's Loyalty Program
Additional Cost Information:
Costs are per person
Stay in Vienna is additional cost
Your fee includes:
- All ground transportation, including airport pick-up and drop-off
- All meals
- Excursions, including 3-day tour
All participants are responsible for:
- Airfare to Yerevan, Armenia
- Visa if required
- Travel health insurance, including emergency evacuation coverage. Send AiP proof of purchase.
- Expenses in Vienna for those including this option
Save Gyumri’s Endangered Architectural Heritage
Dates: May 20-June 1, 2018 Includes 3-day tour of Armenia
Option: Meet AiP leader in Vienna May 18; travel with group to Yerevan.
Learn building conservation skills as you join efforts to save fabulous historic architecture that holds the key to Gyumri’s economic growth.
Why Volunteer in Armenia
Disaster struck in 1988 when the Spitak earthquake devastated the city of Gyumri, Armenia, including its historic core. More than half the city was destroyed and 17,000 people died. Until recently, disaster relief and basic housing were the primary concerns, with many housing options still substandard. It is now very apparent that the unemployment rate, among the highest in the country, must be addressed.
AiP and Gyumri’s municipal government both recognize the great importance of the city’s historic district in generating economic growth through heritage tourism. Jobs created by building conservation, archaeology and tourism are key. The damaged historic district must be saved for the city to survive.
AiP jammers are an important part of the solution! As a volunteer, you will learn building conservation skills as you help repair & adapt damaged buildings for use as B&B’s, housing, shops and museums.
We are also talking to university programs about establishing an ongoing field school to provide students with hands-on experience. Contact us if your university would like to be involved!
My trip to Armenia was the most unique thing I’ve ever done. It gave me a new perspective on the world. While volunteering I got to meet many local families. They have suffered so much yet maintain their strength of spirit and generous attitude. — Lisa Harper 2016
Museum Conservation & B&B Project Plan – Projects and Need
The Kumayri Cultural Museum-Preserve was designated as a historic district in 1980. The registry includes 1,200 historically significant structures and a yet unknown number of potential archaeological sites. Saving and maintaining this district is much more than the local community is able to manage alone.
Gallery of Mariam and Yeranuhi Aslamazyan
This gallery opened in 1987 when the sisters presented the city with 620 of their original paintings. After the 1988 earthquake, the second floor provided housing for people who lost their homes. Even after the building was restored to its use as gallery and art museum in 2004, much conservation work remained to be done.
Join us to continue the very successful work begun by 2017 AiP jammers. Gyumri officials and residents were greatly impressed by the quality of work completed on the gallery’s historic doors and windows. We will –
- Continue conservation of historic doors and windows
- Begin repair and conservation of both wooden and metal balconies.
Conservation Plan to Create B&B
In support of the City’s plan for economic growth, you will spend part of your day developing a conservation plan to adapt one of the damaged historic residences for use as a B&B. Creation of a B&B in a historic residence will serve as a model for the development of small businesses and will provide a sustainable income for both owner and employees.
We will also travel to surrounding villages to identity homes that might provide an overnight stay for those traveling out from Gyumri.
I was able to learn so much more than I ever would in a classroom and I can’t wait to share what I learned. — Jason Mulvey 2017
Flights to Armenia arrive in Yerevan at Zvartnots International Airport where you will be met by one of AiP’s local partners. Plan to arrive on Sunday, May 20. Most flights arrive late night or very early morning, so you may be driven directly to Gyumri from the airport. If you arrive earlier and would like a hotel room reserved in Yerevan, let us know when you register.
If you would rather not arrive in Armenia by yourself, you have the option to meet an AiP staff member in Vienna on May 18 or 19. We will visit sites in Vienna and travel together to Yerevan on May 20. AiP will reserve a hotel room when you register, but expenses in Vienna are the responsibility of each person.
A visa may be required depending on your country of origin. In 2017, travelers from the US did not need a visa. Be sure to check the visa requirements for your country, as requirements may change from year to year.
Bring clothing that is appropriate for the weather and also protective while working. Sturdy close-toed shoes are required for working. Rain gear is recommended. Armenians are typically well dressed and do not wear apparel that is very short or revealing. Please be considerate of these preferences and dress somewhat conservatively.
Lodging and Meals
In Gyumri, lodging is provided at one of the local hotels or B&Bs, conveniently located within walking distance of the Kumayri Historic District, the outdoor market, restaurants, museums, and ancient churches.
Breakfast is provided at the B&B. Lunches and dinners will be eaten at local restaurants.
After settling in on Monday, we will work for 7 days, May 22-28. During this time several special activities are planned. Enjoy visiting a small village where honey, famous in the region, is produced and where a highly awarded 11-year old will perform on the doodook, Armenia’s national instrument. We will learn about ancient recipes brought back by the older generation, made with local plants for vegans or local meats. Plus a tour led by Father Serob to religious locations not open to the general public. Those interested may tour the home of Fourth Way spiritual leader, G.I. Gurdjieff. Many travel to Gyumri each year to visit the source of his teachings on the harmonious development of mankind.
Following our time in Gyumri, we will tour Armenia for 3 days, discovering even more of this beautiful country. Your tour will be led by a trained tour guide from Gyumri Travel. The tour ends in Yerevan on May 31. Departure is June 1.
Contact us if you have additional questions.
If you would like assistance with travel arrangements, contact Peace Frogs Travel/Outfitters, AiP’s partnering travel agency.
If you have any questions or would like to chat with an AiP staff member about joining this cultural heritage experience, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at +1 303-444-0128.