Tenni Adamian: “Repatriation helped me find happiness”

Hayern Aysor’s correspondent sat down for an interview with Iranian-Armenian graphic designer, painter Tenni Adamian, for whom destiny has played a major role in her life. Tenni’s visits to Armenia motivated her to pursue her higher education in the Homeland. Later, this became the reason for her repatriation. After a while, on one symbolic day, by fate, she met Tom, who would later become her husband.

Hayern Aysor: Tenni, what made you decide to continue your studies in Armenia?

Tenni Adamian: One of the main reasons was that youth in Armenia have quite a lot of advantages and opportunities, compared to youth in Iran.

I was safe in my hometown Tehran and had no problems. I have never been under pressure. The Armenians of Iran have always been respected as a Christian nation.

I simply had a great desire to receive a higher education in Armenia. I wanted to receive a higher education more and more as I visited Armenia over the past few years. I had friends studying in Armenia, and they advised me to follow their example.

In 2001, I visited Armenia for the first time, and that visit became fatal. Upon my return to Tehran, I thought hard for a year and decided to return to the Homeland in order to achieve my goal.

Hayern Aysor: How did you parents react?

T. A.: At first, I was a little worried about how they would react to my decision, but they trusted me because they understood that I was serious. So, it was easy to receive their consent.

Hayern Aysor: What profession did you choose?

T. A.: I chose to become a graphic designer because the profession was close to my heart. I got accepted to the Department of Graphic Design of Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts and continued my studies to obtain a Master’s Degree.

Alongside studies, I also worked for an advertising company.

Hayern Aysor: What kind of graphic designs do you work on?

T. A.: As a graphic designer, I work on design and branding, but I have also designed websites. I am still working on graphic art projects.

I also paint to express my feelings and emotions.

I have always been captivated by painting. I mainly draw and paint portraits. My father also loves painting a lot. Although he is an accountant, he also creates miniature paintings with traditional Persian patterns.

I like to paint portraits of people whom I personally know. The more I know a person, the easier it is for me to portray him or her. Recently, I showcased two portraits at the 2nd Art Expo 2016 exhibition.

Hayern Aysor: How did you find out about the exhibition?

T. A.: I knew the organizer, Lebanese-Armenian painter Vako Armeno Khakhamian for a long time. I was a guest at last year’s exhibition where my friend was showcasing her work. I was aware that the exhibition was being held with the support of the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia and was showcasing the works of Diaspora Armenian artists.

That was when I thought of participating in the exhibition next year. I told Vako about it. What made my participation in the exhibition memorable was when I was granted a letter of appreciation by RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan, and I am very grateful for that.

Hayern Aysor: Have you participated in other exhibitions?

T. A.: I have not participated in many exhibitions. My works have been showcased at the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art (NPAK) where Vako was introduced to my works, but I still haven’t held a personal exhibition abroad.

Hayern Aysor: Now let’s talk about repatriation. Was it easy to come and start a new life in Armenia alone?

T. A.: The only hard thing was communicating with the people, but it was clear. Of course, in the beginning, people in Armenia don’t receive Diaspora Armenians with open arms because it takes time for them to get to know them and trust them.

However, I made that psychological transition because I have always been surrounded by the warmth of the Armenian community of Iran and have never felt estranged.

Since childhood, Armenian children of Iran and I have been told that Armenia is the cradle of all Armenians and that people in the Homeland are waiting for us.

Hayern Aysor: Objectively speaking, could you tell us what your greatest achievement was after repatriating?

T. A.: I discovered Armenia more, got to know the people and the morals in Armenia. This helped me understand the real value of being Armenian.

However, the greatest achievement is that repatriation helped me find happiness and start a family in Armenia. My husband, Tom is an Englishman. He came to Armenia as part of an adventurous bike journey.

I met him at a club in Yerevan on St. Valentine’s Day. I didn’t want to go out on that day because I was studying for my exams.

I listened to my friend and agreed to take a little load off.

As I got to know Tom better, we formed a circle of friends and started talking about various topics. During our conversation, I found out that he was going to be leaving for Iran in a couple of days and offered to help him. I gave him my parents’ and friends’ phone numbers so that he could call them, if necessary. However, Tom kept postponing his departure, and the reason was already clear. Our love story eventually led to marriage.

Hayern Aysor: How does Tom feel in Armenia? What does he think about the Armenians?

T. A.: He feels great. He has traveled to many countries and says Armenia is one of the most precious and the most beloved countries. He is charmed by the great nature in Armenia and the thick forests that convey positive energy and make him feel great.

My husband has found himself such an interesting job that will become very important for tourism in Armenia.

He and his friends are currently working on a project that will become the first route for hiking in nature and the mountains and will stretch along the entire length of the borders of Iran and Georgia. That route will especially be mapped and numbered. In other words, they are discovering and unifying the exotic paths for hiking in Armenia.

He is assessing Armenia’s opportunities and says they need to be used to the fullest.

Tom already speaks half in Armenian and half in English. What helps him learn the language are his contacts with people in Armenia’s cities and villages.

Interview by Gevorg Chichyan

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