Moved from Uruguay in 2015
Sarkis Panosian, an Uruguayan Armenian, moved to Armenia a month after he got his degree in system engineering. Born and raised in Uruguay, his father side originates from Marash. His ancestors had arrived in a city in Uruguay where all immigrants had been stationed. They lived among Greeks, Italians, Jews, etc. The culture there was different than other parts of the country, since the population there mainly consisted of different backgrounds. He, the oldest child, was named after his great-grandfather, his younger brother Misak was named after his grandfather, and Andranik was named after his great uncle.
At the age of 8, Sarkis, along with his brothers, started attending the Armenian school there. It was inevitable for Sarkis to join the Armenian organizations there and the Dashnak party, since the community was small and they had to be a part of preserving the Armenian identity.
“In Uruguay the youth from different Armenian organizations joined hands and started working together. During the genocide march, we would align together and march forward hand in hand.”
Panosian first visited Armenian in 2013 for the Pan Homenetmen games, and the second time was the following year. It was his second visit that urged him to make the decision of moving to his homeland. During his first visit, he was very eager to visit Artsakh, but because he was busy with the games and had to travel to Europe later, he cancelled his flight and embarked on a journey alone to Artsakh. But for him to move to the country, he needed a job.
After being rejected in the beginning, an acquaintance of him insisted on not being demotivated and that he would provide him with work upon moving to Armenia. Although jobless the first 3 months here, he did his best to learn the language and experienced a lot in Armenia as an employee. He broke the stereotype of having no job in Armenia.
“If we look at the big picture, every country has issues. You wouldn’t know about Armenia’s problems if you live in Uruguay, it’s not the same as actually experiencing it. The country is changing, it’s moving forward. We’re building new centers, rebuilding the streets, we’re making changes. We should work on social issues as well. Salaries are low here, people barely survive on the minimum wage. Unless you fight for it, the government will never raise the minimum salary.”
Sarkis adores Armenia. He loves Yerevan, he loves the villages, he loves the people. As passionate he is about his country, his favorite place is Artsakh, he would love to move there. ''The security in Armenia is marvelous, you feel safe everywhere, not just in your house''. Sarkis has felt safe for the first time in Armenia. Living here is comfortable.
“The most important thing for Armenia is the people. There are many Armenians in the world. We work elsewhere, invest our time in working abroad, do all of that while we have Armenia to develop. It takes time to make changes, it’s difficult. But the country is smart. We have scientists and engineers driving buses and taxis. Armenia is ready to receive diasporans. There is work, you just have to look for it. I currently have 2.”
Sarkis believes there’s an issue in South America’s Armenian community. Some don’t consider themselves Armenian there, therefore having no reason to move or even visit the country. Volunteering programs help a lot in bringing people here, because if you’re a part of the Armenian community, it becomes a more difficult mission.
“First thing you have to do when you come here is go to Ovir. Get your paperwork done as soon as possible. You will need it to start working. If you’re a part of Armenian organizations elsewhere, come to Armenia and make changes here. And most importantly, don’t be afraid of the language. If you don’t speak it, it’s alright, Armenians are nice people.”