ARMENIA isn’t your typical holiday destination.
But for Kirsty Smith her trip to the former Soviet country wasn’t a holiday as such.
Kirsty, 25, originally from Honley, was passing on her skills as a Girl Guide to aspiring Guides in Armenia.
The former Honley High School pupil joined follow Guide leaders from around the UK for missions to developing countries including Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Malawi, Tanzania, Gambia and Guyana as well as the former Soviet Bloc states of Latvia and Armenia.
Kirsty’s trip, part funded by her parents Philip and Merran Smith and Honley Village Trust, was organised as part of Girlguiding’s International Opportunities programme.
While in Armenia earlier this month, Kirsty and her Guiding friends toured camps across the country leading activities and presentations as well as training new Guide leaders and passing on skills such as first aid.
Kirsty, who now works as a maths teacher in London, said: “It’s a mixed country. Some people are very rich and some streets in the capital are quite Europeanised but beyond that there are lots of abandoned ex-Soviet buildings.
“It’s not extreme poverty but it’s not wealthy.”
Kirsty, a former student at Greenhead College and an Oxford University graduate, added: “We were giving young girls a voice in countries where they might not have one.
“We went to different places and gave girls an experience of Guiding that they hadn’t had before.
“I didn’t even know where Armenia was but it was amazing. We had the most wonderful time.
“We didn’t get to do the normal tourist things but the people made it great. They were so friendly and really glad to have us and include us.”
Armenia is a landlocked Asian country surrounded by Georgia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran.
Unified in around 600BC, Armenia is one of the oldest existing countries in the world. Its capital, Yerevan, was established in 782BC.
The Armenian language, distantly related to Greek, has a unique alphabet.
Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301AD.
Up to 1.8m Armenians were massacred by Turkey between 1915 and 1923. Many Armenians fled the country and today there are significant Armenian populations in the USA and Russia.
All members of popular metal band System of a Down are of Armenian descent.