Hagop Makdis
You can find opportunities everywhere else, but here, you can create them yourself

Hagop Makdis is a Syrian-Armenian who moved to his homeland in 2016. Having lived a very busy and productive life back in Aleppo, Hagop continues to apply the same lifestyle in Armenia. He studied biology, specifically ecology and taxonomy, in university and he recently obtained a Master’s degree in Bioscience from Yerevan State University. But that’s not where it stops. Hagop loves being involved in anything and everything, and as an active member of the Armenian community in Syria, he was able to practice all of his hobbies and apply his skills in various fields.

“School aside, I played football for Homenetmen for 5 years, did theater, worked on short movies, held communication skills trainings and debates at university, worked as an accountant and a teacher. Overall, I was very energetic and involved. Thankfully, I’m great at time management and multitasking, or else none of this would have been possible. That part of my life came to an end when we had to leave because of the war, but I have zero regrets in doing so.”
When you ask any diasporan what Armenia means to them, Hagop tells us that we’ll always get the same answer: Ararat, Etchmiadzin, St. Gregory the Illuminator, Mesrop Mashtots, and every other symbolic figures. Armenia was the first place they had in mind when he left Syria with his family. It was going to be his very first time stepping foot in Armenia. 

“There was no doubt about it. It was our childhood dream to come and resettle in Armenia. The stories we had heard would finally come true. I didn’t want to go to another country because I didn’t want to forget my language and culture.”

He compares his resettlement to that of his ancestors: they were exiled and had to find a new home in a new place, whereas Hagop had to flee the war and find a new home right in his homeland. He says he faced minor setbacks, but none were serious enough to stop him from realizing his dream. Hagop’s flexibility helped him adapt very quickly in Armenia. Regarding people who were unable to settle down in Armenia, Hagop tells us that if you have you set your mind to it, you can live and work anywhere.
Hagop continues keeping his plate full by working as a tourism consultant and a communication skills trainer on different platforms. He likes incorporating his interests in his work and sees how interconnected science, tourism, consulting and training can be. 

“Most people nowadays specialize in one field and work in one direction only. I do the opposite. Changing your profession is not the end of the world, your value does not decrease. If anything, you discover new things. There’s no failure, there’s only feedback. A lot of people have to understand that as different as your skills can be, they all complete each other.”
As for his passion for science, Hagop has made an immense contribution to the field thanks to his thesis, as it was unprecedented. His research was about the morphological characterization and genotype of the Armenian pomegranate to create the genetic profile of the fruit. The research can be the foundation of a whole new array of opportunities for future projects that lacked the information which Hagop has discovered. The reason why he picked pomegranate as the subject of his research was the symbolism behind the fruit: fertility and good fortune.

“I’m proud of myself for everything I’ve achieved so far, but what stands out most for me is defending my thesis in Eastern Armenian. Armenia has a lot of room for development, which is why people should come here. You can find opportunities everywhere else, but here, you can create them yourself. Armenia needs creators, it needs new perspectives. You don’t come to Armenia to change yourself, you come to Armenia to change it.”

Interview: Annie Akkam
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