The Armenian Diaspora, as I’ve seen it, is varied in its ability to engage directly in domestic Armenian affairs according to geographic location, size, the resources available, and its particular culture and outlook towards direct involvement. Growing up, I was a spectator to involvement; my American-Armenian community spent more time commenting and critiquing the status quo than finding ways to engage it. Much like you might hear from your disgruntled Armenian taxi driver, I grew up hearing over and over again that things, as they are, are not meant to change. This attitude had frustrated me long enough for it to fester, so I had to see for myself if it was true. In my brief experience with Birthright Armenia, I’m happy to report that my community was wrong. The state of Armenian affairs is novel, malleable, and beautiful. In all fields of business, politics, and culture, Armenia is situated on the cusp of a significant growth path, and everyone is invited along. You do not have to be a spectator.
To break a pattern of complacency, sometimes you need help. I had to surround myself with talent, skill, and competence in all of the incredible people I’ve met during my experience with Birthright Armenia to see that—hey, in a few years, some of these guys are going to shake things up. And the motivation for doing so is two-fold: not only because we can, but because we want to show everyone who believes otherwise that they can, too. I’ve met incredibly determined and capable people that were only ever meant to come to Armenia for a few weeks and stayed for years as they realized the visible impact of their engagements. I’ve met others that, like me, could only ever stay for a short time but have already taken the first steps of their twenty and thirty-year plans regarding the development of Armenia. Not to be motivated and determined to take action was impossible.
In short, I’m proud of my work here, which has only begun. I’m proud to be inducted into a community of movers, doers, and professionals that refuse to be victims of circumstance. For the first time in a while, I am proud to be Armenian, and I intend to keep it that way. The ins and outs of the development of this country and its cultural trajectory are best learned through Birthright Armenia’s immersions and excursions, best shared with like-minded volunteers, and best paired with homemade pomegranate wine.
United States, 2019