Mi Hogar, 14.300 km. lejos de Casa

Andrés González Kazazian
(Santiago, Chile)

Al comenzar esta experiencia, no sabía bien qué iba hacer acá,  con qué me iba a encontrar, a quiénes conocería y menos, saber que este viaje realmente cambiaría mi vida.

Antes de comenzar el viaje, creía que dos meses y medio era demasiado tiempo, pero debo confesar que siento que el viaje duró sólo un par de semanas y más que un viaje, fue vivir un sueño, un sueño del que siempre me hablaba mi abuelo y que por fin pude comprender.

Antes nunca había sido un gran fanático de Armenia, pero estar acá no tuvo comparación. Cuando caminaba por las calles de Yerevan me sentía como en casa, demasiado cómodo, como si llevara años viviendo en estas calles. Resulta increíble cómo mi abuelo fue capaz de transmitirme el amor, pasión y cariño por la Madre Patria, y que sólo una vez acá me pude dar cuenta, que sin importar lo lejos y desconocido, acá siempre había estado mi hogar. Un hogar de todos los armenios y donde los descendientes de la diáspora tenemos un compromiso innegable y que ojalá todos puedan al menos conocer.

Quizás manejen pésimo, fumen en todos lados, conversan como si estuvieran discutiendo, pero el cariño e interés con el que me preguntaban y se entusiasmaban cuando les contaba que allá lejos en Chile habían armenios, o la pasión y paciencia con que me enseñaba mi profesora de armenio, no se ve en todas partes. Si hay alguien que me demostró su cariño día a día fue la familia que me acogió durante mi estadía. Siempre preocupados de que no me faltara nada, que saliera bien abrigado a trabajar, dándome comida hasta no poder más, preocupados de que no me perdiera en la ciudad y lo más importante, es que me hicieron sentir como un miembro más de la familia. Sin duda alguna, los extrañaré, porque los aprendí a querer.

Hubo momentos alegres, otros tristes, intensos e increíbles, ningún día se pareció a otro y todos me marcaron. Hoy más que nunca puedo decir que estoy demasiado orgulloso de ser armenio.

Lo único malo de esto, es el día de la despedida, el ver que esta experiencia llega a su fin, tener que ver partir a grandes amigos y dejar a otros acá. Siento tristeza y nostalgia, porque esto está llegando a su fin, si de mi dependiera, haría todo lo posible para que esto nunca acabara. Me siento profundamente agradecido por haber vivido una experiencia única, que nunca olvidaré, marcando un antes y un después.

Al staff de Birthright Armenia, AVC, Civilitas y Centro Hispano, les quiero dar las gracias por todo, por haberme dado esta oportunidad, por haberme aguantado y hacer de este, el mejor viaje de mi vida. Prepárense, que el día menos pensado me tendrán de regreso.

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My home, 14.300 km. from my House

Upon beginning my experience, I was unsure what I was going to do in Armenia, what I would discover, who I would come to befriend, let alone whether this trip would perhaps even change my life.

Before beginning my trip, I thought that two and a half months was too long, yet I must confess that my trip felt like it lasted for only a couple of weeks. It was more than just a “trip”- I was living a dream, a dream that my grandfather always spoke about; I can now finally understand or at least fathom what his experience was like.

Being from Chile, I never was a big fan of Armenia before, but now I know there is no greater comparison to it. When I walked through the streets of Yerevan I felt at home, often times too comfortable, like I had been living in these streets, in this country for years. It’s amazing how my grandfather was able to verbally convey his love, his passion, his commitment to the Motherland; being here for the first time, I can truly say that no matter how far I travel, no matter where I am, and despite where I go in life, Armenia will always be my permanent home.  It is home for all Armenians and descendants of the Diaspora and our fellow Armenians must realize, if they haven’t already, that we have an undeniable commitment to it.

Perhaps there exists much pessimism in Armenia, smokers everywhere, people caught in heated conversations, but the affection, attention, and tone through which the people spoke to me with, and the enthusiasm I was met with when I told them many Armenians inhabit Chile, or the passion and patience my Birthright Armenia language teacher had with me, is something that doesn’t exist everywhere.

My host family, day in and day out cared for me and showed their love and tenderness. They were always worried about whether or not I had enough money, that things were going well at my workplace; they insisted on keeping me well-fed even after I was already full. They were always worried that I would get lost in the city, and most importantly they always made me feel like a member of the family.

Without any doubt, I gravely miss them, because from them I learned how to truly love.

There were happy moments, some sad, some intense and amazing, no one day was like the other and each day was significant and special in its own way. Today, more than ever I am able to say that I am very proud to be Armenian.

The only downside of my trip was the day of my departure, when I finally realized that my experience had finally come to an end, and that I had to say goodbye to my great friends, leaving them and my experience all behind. I feel sadness and nostalgia, because it is all over, and if it was up to me, I would do everything possible for my trip to have never ended. I am deeply grateful for having lived such a unique experience; I will never forget it, as ever single memory is deeply ingrained in my heart.

To the staff of Birthright Armenia, AVC, Civilitas, and Centro Hispano, I want to thank you for everything, for giving me this opportunity, for putting up with me and for making this trip of mine the best experience of my life. Be prepared: one of these days you will see me return.

Translation by Birthright Armenia participant Romina Keshishyan.

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