Birthright Armenia: bridging the gap between Diaspora and Homeland

 Tania Sahakian

I find it harder and harder to express myself from an outsider’s perspective when it comes to Armenia. I guess my first time here was not all that long ago, visiting with family in 2004, but during my time with Birthright Armenia the following year, I really got my bearings in Hayastan.

My experience with Birthright Armenia helped in making Armenia part of my life. Not only have I been back six times since, but my seventh time – a year ago now – I made the move.

So I feel quite confident in thinking of myself as a Yerevantsi, since Armenia is very much and undeniably a part of my life. I also feel that I am in a unique position to simultaneously understand the dilemmas and challenges of what it means to be an Armenian in the Diaspora and what it is like to live in Armenia itself as a local thus becoming a connector between the two.

In the past year I have been working two jobs that I can only consider to be dream jobs for me, both in fields about which I am passionate, leading toward the career path on which I had hoped to end up. My move to Armenia did not mean in any way to sacrifice my career or standard of living, in fact it did quite the opposite. Not only that, but both jobs deal with today’s Armenia on tomorrow’s terms. It’s no secret that this country faces many challenges.

My work at Counterpart International has to do with strengthening civil society, and promoting the rule of law, democracy and human rights. And working at the TUMO Center for Creative Technologies allows me to do my part in putting the steering wheel in the hands of the next generation of Armenia’s programmers, animators, musicians, robotics experts, and creative geniuses of other varieties.

They are both environments that offer me opportunities to feel really encouraged about the future of Armenia.

And I couldn’t have done it without Birthright Armenia. This organization allowed me to connect with Armenia in a way that nothing else could have, and it also helped put me on the path that eventually led me to move here.

Birthright Armenia is one of those unique organizations that is opening the lines of communication and helping bridge the gap between the Diaspora and Armenia. The key to any relationship is communication, in order to understand what each entity needs. It’s time to invest in organizations that are helping bridge this gap for a healthier future both in the Diaspora and in Armenia itself.

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