“When Dilijan is your home” is a joint project by Mediamax and UWC Dilijan College introducing the stories about Dilijan and life in Armenia by students from different countries.
Nour, Lebanon, UWC Dilijan ‘18
Nour is a second-year student at UWC Dilijan; he is originally from Sudan, but he and his family had to flee the country because of the civil war. After spending years moving from one country to another they settled in Lebanon. As a part of his Service at UWC Dilijan Nour chose Transformation Through Tennis, where he is learning to play tennis together with the kids from socially challenged families and families at-risk from Dilijan and neighbouring villages. He also enjoys teaching kids from Dilijan how to draw as a part of the Arts in the Community CAS.
First time I spent my winter break in Armenia was in Alaverdi together with my friends from Nepal, Thailand and Malawi. When we arrived, we were welcomed by the host mother and her son Taron, who knew some English and later became our translator. I remember saying hello in Armenian to them and Merry Christmas perhaps too. During lunch I learned names of Armenian dishes and realised that meat was the main component of Armenian gastronomy.
Hrant, the host father, was a police officer and took us to many different villages such us Haghpat and Sanahin. We walked around so many monasteries, saw many impressive churches, so it was obvious that most of the believers were Christians. One of the churches had lots of holes on one of its sides, it was believed that if someone could use these holes to walk from one end to the other, his wish would be granted. Honestly, I don’t remember the wish I made that time, however I do remember that I did not fall while walking on the dream path.
After my first year at UWC Dilijan, I wanted to spend my summer holidays in Lebanon. I applied for visa a while earlier and was still waiting for a response from the Lebanese embassy, when I was told that my family in Alaverdi wanted to host me again. I met my old friends Lilit and Taron, at the entrance, and they welcomed me with a wide smile. I was walking around the house and felt as if it was my home. Although I had become a vegetarian since my last visit, it didn’t seem to be a big deal for Lilit, as she would find a way to feed me and prepared delicious vegetarian meals. My visa application got rejected, and if it weren’t for my host family, I would feel very sad; I don’t know what sort of magic they used but it worked really well to bring back a smile on my face while playing chess or cards games.
In Sanahin, I met lovely people, relatives from Hrant’s side. They had farm animals and worked with the soil. I had a nice walk outside on the tough paths of mother nature, it was awesome to be on top of that cliff where I had a splendid view of the landscape, I felt like being a conqueror and wanted to have my flag with me.
Garik and Taron took me to such a wonderful place one day, it was near an old abandoned house. Inside we found a fuel burner that we used to make coffee. Grisha, Taron’s older brother joined us. We sat on a wooden bench, and I tried to imagine me living in such kind of place, having nature as a comrade, perhaps that imaginary life would be both simple and peaceful?
Before going back to Dilijan, Lilit Jan said that I was her son by now, that their house was my house and she even suggested me to come to Alaverdi to celebrate my birthday. I could not manage to go to Alaverdi for my birthday, instead, my family came to see me at the college. Taron used color pencils to write Happy Birthday on a piece of paper which is still hung over my bed. They also bought for me lots of chocolate and a scarf, sometimes I just wonder, do I really deserve all of that?
Photo: UWC Dilijan College
When my third term at college was about to end, I had that feeling that I should go and spend my winter holidays at home in Alaverdi and nowhere else. The bus ride was really long and I honestly thought that I was lost at some point, that was until I saw the colorful stairs that Taron and I went to once, when he took me to the river Debed.
“Welcome to your house”, mama Lilit said.
I was proud of both my little brother and my mom because their English improved so much in comparison to my Armenian which was still really poor. The day before the New Year they bought for me a pair of socks and a beautiful pull-over with African motifs. On New Year’s night, after celebrating with my family, we all went visit our relatives, because that turned out to be the tradition. We went to our grandfather’s place, congratulated him, then to our relatives in Sanahin. The next day, more relatives and neighbours started coming to our house to celebrate the New Year with us. For them I was a stranger who did not know Armenian, but I at least I was able to say “Shnorhavor” and shake the hand of each coming guest. Another thing which I guess was strange for them was my love story with vegetables.
When the time came for me to go back to Dilijan, they gave me two jars of jam, a jar of honey, a big jacket and even a pair of gloves because my mother thought that mine were not warm enough. They gave me so much; I realised that whatever I could give them is never going to be comparable to what they had already given to me. God bless them.
Now my mother is constantly texting me on messenger to check if everything is going well.
I love my mom!