Lori Yunises: “One can overcome any fear in the homeland…”

There are lot of funny stories that are connected to the participants of the “Ari Tun” Program for homeland recognition of Diaspora Armenian youth. One of those funny stories is a story connected to Lebanese-Armenian Lori Yunises, who participated in the third stage of the program. I had a chance to meet Lori when I was greeting her at the airport. At first sight, she stood out with her nice smile. Lori admired the lights at night in Yerevan during the whole trip. During our conversation, Lori told me about herself.

Lori: “I am 16 years old. I live in Beirut, Lebanon. Both of my parents are Armenian. My mother teaches the history of Armenia and Armenian religion, and my father is a computer programmer. I attend the Armenian Evangelical College in Beirut and have been playing the violin for 10 years. I am fluent in English, Arabic and French, but I only speak Armenian at home. I had always dreamed of visiting the homeland and had wanted to participate in the “Ari Tun” Program for several years, but I was only able to participate this year.”

When we reached the host family’s house, “Ari Tun” Program coordinator for the Davtashen District Tigran Galstyan wanted to make the girl happy and told her the family had two small dogs. As soon as Lori heard that, she hid behind the gates and said she wouldn’t go in. The landlady standing at the entrance, Iranian-Armenian Arlet Avagian, tried to convince the girl that the little dogs wouldn’t bite, but Lori would get more and more scared after hearing every bark. We held the doggies, and Lori quickly ran inside. We let them stay behind the closed door and moved forward. A minute later, the door opened, and the doggies came in and Lori screamed. We started “dancing” around the couch. One of the doggies was running after Lori, I was running after that doggie, the landlady was running after me, and Mr. Galstyan was running after the other doggie and we were all screaming. We eventually managed to move the doggies to another room, but Lori was afraid and wouldn’t come down the stairs. After a while, everything was calm, and we left. The next day, Mr. Galstyan visited the host family to take the girl home. As soon as he entered, he saw Lori sitting on the couch with a doggie on her lap, and the girl smiled and explained that being in the homeland had helped her overcome her fear.

During the ceremony marking the launch of the program’s third stage, I met Lori again, and she shared her impressions.

Lori: I loved Yerevan. It’s very beautiful at night. In one day, I managed to tour the city. I especially liked the “singing” fountains at Republic Square. I feel so good when I hear everyone around me speaking Armenian.

Hayern Aysor: How does the host family make you feel?

Lori: I feel wonderful. They’re very kind. I feel at ease. Mrs. Avagian also hosted another participant, Shant, and we became very close.

Hayern Aysor: I heard you became close with the doggies. How did that happen?

Lori: Yes, I loved them. When we would have breakfast in the mornings, I would look for them in fear. I suddenly felt a doggie beneath my foot, and when it started playing with me, I overcame my fear. After a while, I approached the doggies. I started caressing them carefully, and then I overcame my fear. The next day, I constantly wanted to hug them. I think one can overcome any fear in the homeland.

Hayern Aysor: Are you proud to be Armenian?

Lori: I am very proud. I am proud to be a particle of Armenia. This is my home. I thank the Ministry of Diaspora for providing me with such an opportunity.

By Marianna Ananyan

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