Retrouvant la Patrie

Le voilà ! Si clairement visible de loin. Si connu et en même temps si insolite. Si grandiose et indescriptiblement beau. Comme si une image de rêves apparaît devant les yeux et devient une réalité.

harut

Ararat ! La première chose, que j’ai vue depuis le hublot de l’avion, en arrivant un vendredi soir à l’aéroport Zvartnots à Erevan. Puis, à travers la baie vitrée du terminal, j’ai pu plus en détail examiner toute la beauté de notre montagne biblique et jouir de son aspect impressionnant.

La prise de connaissance surprenante avec l’Arménie anticipait un séjour aussi remarquable pendant trois mois estivaux dans la patrie de mes ancêtres. Maintenant, à l’expiration de ce temps, je peux dire avec certitude que les émotions et les impressions ressenties pendent cet été, ont surpassé toutes mes attentes. À partir du tout premier jour – la rencontre avec la famille d’accueil, qui m’a accepté, sans exagération, comme son membre et en finissant par la conversation déjà en langue arménienne, avec le chauffeur de taxi, me déposant le dernier jour à l’aéroport, j’étais envahi par un sentiment interne que je suis chez moi. Et c’est étonnant, puisque ce sentiment je ne l’ai jamais ressenti dans aucun pays où j’ai vécu, mais seulement ici, en Arménie, où je me suis trouvé pour la première fois. Un sentiment énorme !

Je sais que sans Birthright Armenia ces émotions seraient incomplètes. Elles auraient été tout à fait différentes car, en effet, cette organisation offre le format idéal pour la perception du pays et de sa vie. A travers les excursions remarquables dans toute l’Arménie et l’Artsakh, les forums avec les représentants de diverses organisations engagées dans le développement du pays, mais aussi la possibilité de rencontrer un grand nombre de personnes différentes, des bénévoles, des Arméniens de toute la diaspora et des personnalités simplement intéressantes. Ainsi, ВА crée l’atmosphère spéciale, la perception vive et émotionnelle de la vie arménienne. Par ailleurs, ВА donne la possibilité de ressentir l’Arménie réelle, en premier lieu par le biais du volontariat, à travers la communication avec ses habitants, la compréhension des problèmes et les complexités de sa société.

Birthright Armenia c’est nous tous : les participants du programme, nos familles d’accueil, les professeurs d’arménien, les guides des excursions, tous qui sont liés à notre séjour ici, dans la patrie. Mais dans son cœur – un petit collectif de personnes sensibilisées et énergiques, aimant leur pays et croyant à son avenir radieux. Moi-même, j’en ai foi et donc je reviendrai absolument pour participer à la construction de cet avenir.

Ayant quitté l’Arménie, rentré dans ma ville, en me rappelant les moments magnifiques passés dans ma patrie, en regardant les photos et en pensant à nouveau à toutes ces personnes que j’ai rencontré: les collègues de travail, les bénévoles de tous les coins du Monde, tous les représentants et les participants du programme, la famille, avec laquelle on s’est vu pour la première fois et même les nouveaux vrais amis, je commence à me rendre compte que ces trois mois étaient, peut-être, la période la plus heureuse dans ma vie. Période de recouvrement de la patrie.

Invest | Harvest | Digest

Originally posted on kohar minassian:
Yesterday, the Birthright Armenia excursion took me to the ArmAs Winery in the Aragatson Province of Armenia, about an hour away from Yerevan. It was really a relief to be out on the land with…

Reflections from Armenia: Twenty Years after Re-Independence


Rupen Janbazian (Canada)

My first trip to Armenia was in the year 2000 with my family. Although I was quite young at the time, the trip would leave a lasting impression on me, which would prompt me to visit several times thereafter, for various different reasons – from attending conferences and meetings, to sightseeing and exploration with friends. Although I had visited Armenia many times and contributed voluntarily within the Armenian community of Toronto for many years, I had never been able to volunteer my time and efforts within the country. As I approached my university graduation, I felt as if it was time to visit Armenia for an extended period of time, to give back to my homeland directly – something that I believe everybody of Armenian descent is obliged to do at least once in their lifetime. Luckily, there exists an organization called “Birthright Armenia”, which facilitates diasporan youth volunteerism in Armenia.

I decided to volunteer at the Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation (HMF). Founded in 2009, the HMF is a non-profit Armenian think-tank, committed to the development and advancement of public policy issues that promote the core values of social democracy through education, training, research, and regional and international cooperation. Although a relatively new initiative, the HMF has already began laying the foundations for long-term, systematic solutions to Armenia’s social, political and economic problems,  and has contributed to the development of a more transparent, accountable, equitable and prosperous society. Through the HMF, I have been able to take part in several exciting and interesting projects and initiatives. From planning conferences and seminars, to aiding with the day-to-day activities of the foundation, in my short time at the HMF, I quickly realized that Armenia is in great need of such programs, which look to find enduring and practical solutions to the various problems our country faces.

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On September 21, 1991, Armenia declared itself independent from Soviet rule, with over ninety-nine percent of eligible voters saying “yes” to statehood. After seventy long years under the USSR, Armenia was once again a free and independent country. While most believed that joy and prosperity would come about, the years immediately following independence would prove to be bleak and disappointing. Ongoing war with neighbouring Azerbaijan, devastation following the major earthquake of 1988, severe economic hardship, unchecked ownership and entrepreneurship and an illegal blockade were just a few of the several problems the newly formed republic faced. The people of Armenia, who had been so optimistic at the ballot boxes, were soon losing faith in the system they had so courageously fought for and, for the first time, feeling a sense of disenchantment toward the idea of independence. Continue reading

Armenia the Country

Christophe Kolandjian
(USA)

Four months ago, I arrived at Zvartnots Airport in Yerevan, Armenia. I wandered down the walkway into a sparse white room and approached one of a series of square glass windows that lined the far wall. The customs official behind the window, a middle-aged Armenian man, spoke only Armenian. Speaking Armenian would be my most difficult and most rewarding challenge in Armenia. After a few unsuccessful attempts at communicating, I convinced a young, Armenian American women, whom was standing in line one window to my right, to translate the remainder of the encounter.  When the business end of the conversation was complete, she asked me with blunt honesty: “Are you Armenian? You don’t speak Armenian, why did you come here?”

At that point in time, I did not have any answers to her questions. The internal monologue in my head was skeptical. What was I doing seven thousand miles away from home in a country I knew almost nothing about?  Her questions inspired me to begin thinking deeply about my purpose in the country. I thanked the women and left the airport.

Living for four months in Armenia was an incredible experience.  The brilliant blue water of Sevan, the picturesque icy forests of early-winter Dilijan, and the breathtaking tree-filled mountains of Artsakh will stay with me long after my trip.  Equally valuable were the everyday experiences. Armenians in Armenia, both diasporan and locals, are some of the warmest people I have ever met. I will never forget the kindness of the Grigoryans. Ashot, Armine, Karo, and Galust welcomed me into their home and their family, something for which I am deeply grateful. All these experiences changed me in a way that I struggled to clearly define until after an early morning conversation on my return to Zvartnots. Continue reading