Alique Bedikian said there was no culture shock. For five weeks, she lived in rural Armenia, foregoing almost all amenities like electricity and running water.
"I got so used to living that humble lifestyle that it didn't matter," she said. "I really appreciated everything they have as well, all those things are very different and very simple. Coming back wasn't a shock. It was just different."
The 12-volunteer team from across Glendale and the globe returned transformed after their time in Yeghvard, in southern Syunik province in Armenia.
"We were basically celebrities in the village," said Montrose resident Nare Davoodi, who also turned 20 years old while abroad. "The kids would call our names every morning, afternoon and night for us to go play with them or have coffee with them and their parents."
The volunteers participated through Land and Culture Organization, a France-based nonprofit that organizes summer trips to connect young Armenians with their native ancestry. The team from Glendale joined other French teens, Canadian teens and young adults to restore the village's 17th century Sourp Astvatzatzin Church.