Ari Hadjian: "Armenia’s Younger, Knowledgeable Generation Gives Me Hope That in the Future We Will Be Able to Improve the Nation"

Interview by Armen Nercesian
In 2010, I decided to fulfill my childhood dream and repatriate to the homeland. I was born thousands of miles away in Argentina where I resided until I was 34 and took the opportunity to move to Armenia. In Argentina, I worked at an architectural studio who offered me to move for two years to Zambia, Africa where the competitor’s headquarters were established. Besides the fact that I had no desire to move to Africa, I always said if I were to move anywhere it would be Armenia. Once I understood that my Argentinian job would not send me to Armenia, I contacted a CEO and informed him of my wish to live in Armenia, and my hopes to find a job there. The CEO provided me with wonderful news – he offered me a job at the Zvartnots Airport. After one more year of work in Argentina with the Armenian architectural company approval, I moved to Yerevan, Armenia, near the Matenadaran.
I met my Iranian-Armenian wife in Armenia in 2007 when I went there for a meeting. She is also an architect and we kept in close contact until I moved to Armenia in 2010, where I saw her again. One thing led to another, and we were happily married. The people of Armenia provide me with an indescribable level of happiness. Living in a big Armenian community with kind, hospitable people, I feel secure and confident that my neighbors and city folk are my family. Not only do the people delight me, but the children excite me as well. Compared to the children in Argentina, these Armenians are extremely bright and very mature for their age. I look forward to raising a family here in Armenia surrounded by thousands of years of history and culture, in addition to the beautiful landscape which is enclosed within a safe environment.
The natural beauty of the land as well as the post-modern Soviet style architecture captivates me. Unfortunately, the modern Soviet-style Armenian architecture is not used in the Western world, leaving me unknowledgeable in the field. Regardless of the differences, I have high hopes that I will find clients desiring westernized architecture. If more Diaspora Armenians migrate to the motherland, I may have more of an opportunity to modernize Soviet Armenian architecture. As of now, I am learning Russian, not only to further integrate myself into the Armenian society, but also to write a book about Soviet architecture in Armenia.
Even though the architectural differences have created a slight struggle in my career, it seems minor compared to the struggles which I endured due to migrating from Argentina to Armenia. Leaving my childhood, friends, and family at the age of 34 has been the most difficult. Although there was the difficulty of starting a new life in Armenia, it was not as difficult as I had anticipated. The children and the people helped to make the transition much easier. For any Armenian desiring to move back to Armenia, you will feel at home. There are a few cultural barriers which one must overcome in order to happily live in Armenia. I still become frustrated with the anti-feminine mentality and am still adjusting to the conservative lifestyle of Armenians. The best part of the Armenian lifestyle however is enjoying the natural and fresh food, taking walks in parks while observing the unique landscapes, and traveling to new places outside of Yerevan on the weekends, especially visiting the magnificent historical Armenian churches.
Although I am surrounded by beautiful landscapes and conversing with the most hospitable people, Armenia, like every other country, has problems. We have serious problems with corruption within the government. The oligarchic system causes great income inequality. The greediness of these wealthy people infuriates me because our country’s poor reside in rundown homes, some without running water or electricity while the wealthy speed down Mashtots Avenue in new BMWs. This country is also burdened by large numbers of Armenians emigrating from Armenia. This creates a smaller population and hurts our ability to strengthen the economy and fight corruption.
Armenia’s younger, knowledgeable generation gives me hope that in the future we will be able to improve the nation. Many of our brightest children and teenagers work at the TUMO center and expand our budding IT sector. I believe that the expansion of our developing country is not necessary in Yerevan, but instead in the towns and villages. Laws created to stimulate agriculture and decrease migration will benefit these villages. Concentration in Yerevan benefits the country economically, but also can be very unpredictable. For somebody repatriating to Armenia, the IT sector and expansion in villages would be a wonderful place to develop ideas for a successful business. However, the Diaspora should move to Armenia without any negative preconceptions, and help Armenia become a more modern, Westernized nation.

RepatArmenia (repatarmenia.org)

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