Spotted: Return to Armenia

Update from Helen Holter ’78: I had a wonderful opportunity last summer, when I was invited to be part of a Smithsonian/State Department project to assess rural development opportunities in Armenia. It was incredible!  Beyond 1,000-year-old monasteries, stomach-spinning mountains passes, hospitality in spades, and so much good food and wine I’ll never eat a McDonald’s hamburger again…. I’d say the personal highlight for me was visiting the town of Gyumri, which back in Soviet times was called Leninakan – site of a devastating earthquake in 1988 that killed more than 25,000. I covered it as a TV reporter back in the 1980s, so actually seeing it decades later — much of the earthquake damage exactly as it was then — was sad and sobering.  I’m thrilled to add that I’ll be returning this spring to Armenia, as well as to Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Pictured:  It’s worth driving switchback mountain roads heading north to Alaverdi to land here, at UNESCO-listed Haghbat (“Huge Wall”) Monastery complex in Armenia. It was first built more than 1,000 years ago, overlooking a steep gorge.