He admired Armenia, so does Armenia him. Roffi, a resident of Seattle, U.S., once decided to visit Armenia on call of motherland, and chose to stay forever. In four months, he walked through the whole Armenia and discovered the country for himself and the TV audience. Roffi talked to Panorama.am sharing memories from his childhood, his daily routine in Yerevan and future plans.
“My father is an Armenian, born in Persia, my mother - an American of French and English origin. When my parents got married, my mother started learning Armenian language. My dad then brought his parents, the family of his sister to the U.S. We lived in a big family of ten people before my dad and uncle found jobs and we moved to separate houses,” recalls Roffi.
He started freely communicating in English when attended the school, yet Armenian phrases, like “I am hungry,” “very tasty” always remained a part of his routine. In later life when he came to Armenia he started learning Armenian from scratch. Despite his fluent Armenian speech and reading, he still strives to an absolute literacy in Armenian.
“I have always felt being an Armenia and once thought what did it mean being an Armenian. My dad had never been to Armenia, used to tell the history of Armenia though. When I get acquainted with strangers, they ask for my name and I introduce myself as Roffi. People often wonder what name is that: whether it is Rafayel. I say no, Raffi, and start telling the history of Armenia. One day I realized I didn’t know that history well enough and felt the duty to see and feel my roots myself, to discover Armenia’s ‘taste and smell’,” Roffi notes.
Roffi wishes his children to preserve their Armenian roots, knows that would be quite difficult in America, especially when married with non-Armenian women. He would again have to take the burden of preserving the Armeniancy. That was the motivation beyond his decision to leave everything, the job, house in America and come to Armenia to study the language and the traditions.
Roffi says the life in Armenia is calm and more insightful specially for a person with a specialization of a botanist as he is. “In America, I was engaged with landscape design, In Armenia I mostly work as an actor, feature in advertisements and am recorded. The job occupies large part of my day. I earned more in America, yet I ask myself what to do with more money – to buy a bigger house or two cars? Those were not relevant to me, since I simply want to live an interesting life, therefore I moved to Armenia,” explains our interlocutor.
Roffi goes on saying he has not been to America for four years, hasn’t seen his mother since settling in Armenia. “My mother even threatened to fly to Armenia despite her fear of planes,” jokingly added he. The American –Armenian first time came to Armenia as a volunteer and got acquainted with the executives at Bars Media, which is producing “Chanaparh” (Road) TV Show on Public TV. Roffi says he wants to produce a TV program not about himself but rather help people to discover Armenia through his journeys. He wants to tell the life of ordinary people in Armenia by showing a random day from their lives.
Roffi clearly sees the differences in the family life in Armenia and the U.S. He prefers the Armenian model of family, where people live in big families and share both achievements and daily hardships. He says the roles and responsibilities between men and women in a family are clearly separated which, as he believes, makes their common life easier.
Raffi has been fond of sports since childhood. He used to play football, went in for karate trainings and expeditions. It is a bit difficult for him to keep engaged with sport activities on regular basis in Armenia, yet he has found the solution. He takes the ball, goes to some unfamiliar yards and train by kicking the ball to the walls. Soon after he is surrounded with kids from the nearby buildings wishing to play. Roffi is passionate about mountain climbing which is a regular practice during the shootings of the “Chanaparh” TV program and stays ready to reach the most dangerous places to show hidden beatifies of the Armenians nature nestled high on the rocks.
Asked, whether he has a cozy place after touring the whole Armenia he wished to build his future house, Roffi points to the nature of Lori and Tavush regions [north of Armenia]. As a botanist, he likes Tavush with its plant species-richness and diverse nature, where he could cultivate fruit and vegetables. However, Lori holds a special place in his heart.
“Lori looks like my hometown with its reach landscape, fields, meadows, gorges, clean river, mountains, forests and many more,” enthusiastically concludes Roffi.