Tebi Yergir Forum Inspires Diasporan Armenians

The participants of Tebi Yergir (photo by Ani Ishkhanian)

GLENDALE—The Armenian Revolutionary Federation ‘Shant’ Student Association provided a unique forum on April 1 that inspired Diaspora Armenians to making a meaningful contribution to their homeland. Hundreds flooded the Glendale Public Library to hear about Tebi Yergir: Making Repatriation a Reality and network with over fourteen organizations that facilitate that process.

Sara Anjargolian and Al Eisaian make presentation (photo by Ani Ishkhanian)

“To see Diasporans wanting to engage and to learn more made me smile,” stated Tebi Yergir committee member Manuk Avedikyan. “The future of Armenia shines brighter when I see other people with the will to engage. I saw a dedicated group of Armenians who want to participate with Armenia not only through ideas but through actual work.”

The program featured two distinguished speakers who spoke about their experiences in Armenia. Entrepreneur Al Eisaian (whose current project is a Yoga and Meditation Retreat in the village of Aghtsk) gave examples of how individuals can be more involved and the need to build a new narrative of Armenia. Sara Anjargolian, a documentary photographer who has been involved in various projects in Armenia, walked event participants through her journey, her experiences and her relationship with Armenia.

The event concluded with a raffle drawing for a free one-way ticket to Armenia, generously sponsored by Harout Bronozian, host of the “Veratarts” Armenian TV program found on returntoarmenia.com.

Raffle sponsor Harout Bronozian with winner Hayk Makhmuryan (photo by Avo John Kambourian)

“While globalization makes us all citizens of the world, cultural identity makes Armenia my capital. From the day I emigrated, there were thoughts about reconnecting, and perhaps I was unknowingly waiting for some sign. Winning the one-way ticket to Armenia was much more than a sign, it was the shortest and most direct instruction manual to an adventure that will doubtlessly be not only a detour, but a defining part of my life’s journey,” stated raffle prize winner Hayk Makhmuryan.

For more information and to keep up to date with ARF ‘Shant’ activities, please visit www.ARFShant.org.

ARF ‘Shant’ Student Association’s mission is to assist existing Armenian Student Associations in universities by providing a platform for the study and promotion of all things Armenian on campus. Furthermore, we strive to mobilize the community at large in furthering the Armenian Cause through political, academic and intellectual means. Our work is also geared towards building strong ties of solidarity with organizations and activists in Armenia in order to achieve genuine freedom and democracy.

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13 Comments

  1. Nigol "t" said:

    ARF does a better job to repatriate Armenians to Armenia then the Diaspora Ministry of Armenia. The ministry’s budget is wasted on diplomatic travels of the minister.
    Thanks to ARF “Tebi Yergir” propaganda we and many other friends with families moved to Armenia more then a decade ago and are doing great.
    To build a nation from the ashes of the Soviet era and Levon’s, we need a nationalist government, a president that will think of the nations coffers and not his own family’s.

  2. Andy said:

    Before you decide anything, go there and ask a diaspora Armenian who made the move, would he recommend his brother, sister or best friend to move there, I lived there for 5 years and I know, most of the people who moved there from Lebabon, Syria, and me from US went back, all were engaget in buisness, almost all lost there shirt, don’t take my word for it, go find a diaspora Armenian and ask him, or her, specialy someone who is engaget in buisness.

    • ghazaros said:

      Andy, we all know what you are saying. when it comes to national affairs, one should look for solutions, not sit down and air their personal anger. Too bad you had bad luck. That should not make you campaign for others not to go. Be part of the solution….like as they say, if you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Once you are out of the kitchen, be quiet. Let every one contribute and struggle in there own way. You should have stayed and struggled rather than being of feable heart and retreating. I know of tens of diasporans with stories like yours who are staying and putting up a sttruggle for a better Aremnia to-morrow.

    • Kevork said:

      Andy, I agree that as a result of corruption many repatriating Armenians have lost their behinds trying to conduct business in Armenia. But on the other hand, I believe that the best way this will change is for Armenians to go to Armenia in large numbers, and when that happens, Armenia has no choice but to change for the better. That’s why it’s important that Armenian families start sending their children to Armenia from an early age so they can get used to the lifestyle there and eventually make the difference.

    • Suren said:

      Many of the successful businesses in Yerevan are run by spyurkahyes. There is good stories and bad ones. You can’t go to Armenia with only your heart you need to do research and think of your future logically as well. Many have done well for themselves.

    • Al Eisaian said:

      Dear Andy,

      I have no reason not to believe you, as I am sure there are cases of bad treatment. I am curious if you can share some details of what exactly happened that made you come to this position. I would also love to engage you in a dialogue on or offline. I have been doing business in Armenia since 1999 (3 software business, and one a retreat) and have not had a SINGLE issue. I know of several friends, too many to list here, that have also been successfully operating in Armenia for years if not decades. From hotel operators, to restaurant owners, to SW development companies, to coffee-shop owners. I am being very sincere and honest by saying that NO ONE I know personally in Armenia has told me of any issues in running their businesses. I have however HEARD 3-rd hand of certain diasporans having issues. I am hoping that these folks will come forward and speak in detail and honestly about the specific issues and the specific governmental persons or other citizens that have caused them these difficulties. Only through open and transparent conversations can we begin to turn the tide. Again, I thank you for the sacrifice that you have already made and I hope you will write a long and factual article about your experiences asap and publish. We need all voices to be heard and the truth to come out whatever, it is and begin the road to solutions.

    • Al Eisaian said:

      Dear Andy,

      I have no reason not to believe you, as I am sure there are cases of bad treatment. I am curious if you can share some details of what exactly happened that made you come to this position. I would also love to engage you in a dialogue on or offline. I have been doing business in Armenia since 1999 (3 software business, and one a retreat) and have not had a SINGLE issue. I know of several friends, too many to list here, that have also been successfully operating in Armenia for years if not decades. From hotel operators, to restaurant owners, to SW development companies, to coffee-shop owners. I am being very sincere and honest by saying that NO ONE I know personally in Armenia has told me of any issues in running their businesses. I have however HEARD 3-rd hand of certain diasporans having issues. I am hoping that these folks will come forward and speak in detail and honestly about the specific issues and the specific governmental persons or other citizens that have caused them these difficulties. Only through open and transparent conversations can we begin to turn the tide. Again, I thank you for the sacrifice that you have already made and I hope you will write a long and factual article about your experiences asap and publish. We need all voices to be heard and the truth to come out whatever, it is and begin the road to solutions.

  3. Anush said:

    Go to Armenia for a short visit and spend your vacation money there instead of anywhere else. BUT DON’T SETTLE IN ARMENIA!! At least, not yet. It will take a few decades for anything to improve there, unless the Armenian Diaspora organizes an effective MASSIVE REPATRIATION similar to “Nerqakht”. But I don’t see that happening unless the situation in the Middle East becomes so unbearable (on individual and community levels) that an organized migration takes place from Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait and Jordan/Israel… The rest of the Armenian Diaspora can enjoy the self-fulfilling satisfaction by “generously sponsoring raffle drawing for one-way ticket to Armenia”…

    • ghazaros said:

      Anoush jan, you sound like one of the natives who have LEFT Armenia. When you say “do not settle in Armenia”, are you getting payed by the Azeri’s?. Massive repatriation would be the solution, of course. In the mean time, besides negative contribution, please let us know what effort are you spending towards such an end. Got your message, you hate Armenia. Get out of the middle and let the diasporan youth’s dream gradually become a reality……We have met the enemy, and it is us!!

      • Anush said:

        ghazaros, if you are repatriated and currently, permanently living in Armenia, my hat’s pff to you! But if you are still in the Diaspora, then please allow me to tell you that you don’t know anything about the realities in Armenia, thus you can be considered a hypocrat filling the ranks of blindfolded individuals utterng outdated slogans. And please, put an end to the childish and worthless mentality of “whoever doesn’t think like us is our enemy”.If you had learned SOMETHING about Armenian history you would have been familiar with the Turkish cheap accusations against any Armenian they wanted to get arrested, and that was by saying “he cursed at Mohamed.” If having a realistic approach to the situation –based on my lifelong experiences– makes me your enemy, then I hope you take the blindfold off one day. Hope sooner than later.

        • Al Eisaian said:

          Dear Anush,

          Do you believe there is a middle-ground? It seems that Armenia and Armenians lose if we hold on to extreme positions of “DON’T SETTLE IN ARMENIA,” to “MOVE THERE AND FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT.” I think there are several positive engagement possibilities between these two extreme positions. I am curious to learn about your own experience that has brought you to your current position. May be the next event should be a widescale dialogue and sharing of personal stories from diasporans that have attempted to move to Armenia and have had difficulties settling there. Then we can cool-headedly examine the causes and begin to demand addressing of these issues. Nonetheless, we can not afford to attack each other. We need to attack the problems and create solutions and possibilities. I for one thank you, Anush and all the rest of you, for staying engaged and continue caring about Armenia and common Armenian person.

  4. Edward Demian said:

    Armenia needs rural workers. Peasants, who work the land. You won’t find those among the city slickers of Beirut or Los Angeles. They have enough of those. You want settlers, you need to provide land and loans to start a farm, a viniard, a cattle herd. Those people are found in Northern Syria, Southern Moldova, Krasnodar, Russia, Ossetia etc. Those are the ones that need help. The churches are more aware of those than anyone else. But this is a good idea anyway, such as it is. What I want to know is, Who is doing anything about bringing to Artzack the Hamshen of Russia? One family at a time would still be something.

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