Arsen Afrikyan: “We need to find the Homeland in our hearts”

The doors of the RA Ministry of Diaspora are always open for every Armenian visiting the Homeland, living with the longing for the Homeland and returning to the Homeland. As the interlocutor of one of my interviews said, ‘the Ministry of Diaspora is a home within a home, the home of the Inside…’ It was in the warm atmosphere of the home of that Inside in which I interviewed Arsen Afrikyan, a young Armenian scholar who repatriated from the Russian city of Volgograd a couple of months ago.

“It has been about five months since I moved to the Homeland. I was 8 years old when I found myself in a foreign country and in a new environment. My father went first (at the time, he wasn’t feeling well in Russia or Armenia). My paternal aunts and my maternal uncle were living there. My father had gone with the intention to work for about two years, but when he learned about the earthquake, he got afraid of the situation and told us to come to Russia. My mother, brother and I almost cried as we were leaving Armenia. It was hard to leave the Homeland and start a new life abroad. We have come to Armenia once every two or three years, and I have always had contacts with many of my classmates and have maintained my relations with Armenia and friends. I graduated from school in Volgograd, got accepted to the applied mathematics faculty of the local university and graduated as an expert in computer technologies and a mathematician. Upon graduation, I immediately started lecturing at the same university, after which I was transferred to another recognized university, that is, the Engineering University.

…I have always cherished the dream of returning to the Homeland since I was 8. Neither I nor any one of my family members came to grips with the idea of living far away from Armenia. No matter how good a foreign country is, it can never become the Homeland. In a foreign country, you are secondary, and you don’t feel strong on the land beneath your feet. In 2004, I came to Armenia. I was 24, and I realized that I had to return to the Homeland and that this is where I had to be. I was the head of the youth wing of the Armenian community of Volgograd. I had a job and a business, and almost all my relatives were there, but…my most precious ‘relative’, that is, my Homeland was far from me. Last year, I got married to a girl from Armenia. She also didn’t want to live abroad. We moved to Armenia, and now we have a little boy named Narek. We enjoy the warmth of the Homeland. We, more specifically me, don’t long for the homeland anymore. I am home, on my land and in the Homeland of my dreams. I don’t have a job and don’t work for any state organization, but I do work a little by my profession. I don’t really care about the salary. The only thing I care about is working by my profession and helping my country. I have also contacted the Ministry of Diaspora. I really want to help bring the young Armenians of Armenia and the Diaspora and youth organizations together. The first pan-Armenian youth forum laid the foundation for cooperation and the implementation of joint programs. This year, I participated in the second pan-Armenian youth forum at the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute where I established new contacts. We created a task force. We have very literate and well-trained youth, but the potential is not used very much. One of my goals is to help bring Diaspora Armenian youth to Armenia and, of course, present the advantages of Armenia. Naturally, if I present our country’s advantages with my example, I will convince them and instill faith in them, and that will be credible, if I have a stable job, if our people live well and if we don’t see beggars at every step of the way. I didn’t come to the Homeland because Armenia was thriving and Volgograd was in a bad situation, but the opposite…I came because I was eventually going to return to my home. I regret to see gifted Armenians leaving Armenia. Why can’t we serve the talent of our nation for the interests of the Homeland? We are small in number, but we shine like a diamond. There are wars taking place in almost all parts of the world today. As an analyst and mathematician, I believe now is the right time to take advantage of opportunities, turn ideas into a reality, gain benefits and not suffer losses…The right diplomacy is very important now.

In Volgograd I was a teacher. Some of my students were Azerbaijanis. Knowing that their teacher was Armenian, they would be somewhat afraid, but all of them said they didn’t want war, tension and enmity between nations. Unfortunately, they have been instilled with hatred towards the Armenians since childhood. The authorities, the leaders of countries with the desire for war and their expansionist policies that provoke war, but the average people always support peace. I am one of the descendants of the Armenians who migrated from one of the villages on the Baiazet-Igdir road (in Western Armenia) in 1824, and my parents are from Noraduz. Russian language is prohibited in our family, and the Armenian language and an Armenian upbringing are the image of our family. You asked me what the homeland means to me, and I will say that it is like my grandmother, who was very Armenian…Only later did I understand that we need to find the Homeland in our hearts.

As we approach the New Year, I would like to urge my compatriots to not seek happiness abroad. Happiness is in Armenia. There are many things here that you won’t find anywhere else, like the sun, the immortal war, the power of the land, the great strength and the exceptional spiritual values…”

Karine Avagyan




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