Armenian Volunteer Corps

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Notes from Gyumri

Aleksan Giragosian

July 16, 2011: It's funny being in Armenia again because it doesn't seem as foreign as it used to. Perhaps it's because the streets and fashion look more western. Perhaps it's because it's my fourth time in this country. Or perhaps where I live (Glendale) is becoming more and more like Armenia. Although many of the superficial things I noticed in 2007 have changed, many cultural things linger for better or worse. For better is the sense of community I see among locals living in the same building or in the same neighborhood. For better is the hospitality shown to foreigners or family. For worse is the treatment of women, children, and the environment. For worse is the collective pessimism that remains a stumbling block on the path to a free, independent, and prosperous Armenia.

And then there are the bard trees; apparently I'm allergic to them. I haven't stopped sneezing, coughing, or blowing my nose since I got here. The incessant second-hand smoke and the dusty streets may also be playing a role. I don't mean to come off as a whiner, but I was literally ill for the entire duration of my trip in 2007, and I'm afraid of a similar repetition in 2011.

Actually, being here makes me wonder if I can actually live here. I tell my friends and family that I want to move to Armenia, but I seem to forget sometimes that I am an American. What I mean to say is that a move to Armenia would entail more than a change in location. It would entail sacrifices on almost every level (economic, political, cultural). I say "sacrifices" because, at the moment, I do not see any gains that can made through relocating to Armenia. The only thing that keeps me from abandoning the idea altogether is the psychological conditioning, one might even say brainwashing, I underwent in Armenia school and at home that has instilled in me a longing for my fatherland.

However, I remain hopeful that alongside those "sacrifices," I will discover gains. Big Gains.

Aleksan Giragosian is volunteering with the Armenian Young Lawyers Association in Gyumri.

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  • At 11:47 AM, June 22, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with what you said about ACTUALLY being able to live in Armenia. I would just like to say that when I was visiting England and France I said to myself, “lucky is the person who lives in their own country. I was so envious of the English and the French who were living in their own country, working for their country and helping THEIR country prosper. I understand Armenia demands more sacrifices from the people living there. But again, lucky is the person who lives and works in his ethnic country.

  • At 8:53 PM, September 09, 2011, Blogger timjimdeets said…

    Dear Aleksan Giragosian: I'm a lawyer myself and have been to Armenia twice. I am of Armenian descent, but only on my Mom's side. I applaud your desire to help out Armenia. I hope to move there myself sometime, but I don't know how realistic that is. In any event, glad that you are helping out Armenia. Tim Deets in USA


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