Moved from Argentina in 2015
Betty Arslanian, an Argentinian-Armenian, moved to Armenia in the summer of 2015. Prior to her repatriation, she had visited the country a number of times with different programs. Her visit with Birthright Armenia was similar to a slap in the face, a wake-up call. It was then that she decided to move to her homeland after finishing her studies. Since she was already familiar with the country, not much had surprised her. She knew the culture, the people, the mentality, basically how things worked in Armenia. Betty wanted to be a part of it all.
“It’s natural to go through difficulties when moving to a new country. I had lived all my life in Argentina, but it was okay to be open to change. Find a place to stay, make new friends, learn about new places, etc. But when there’s will, difficulties aren’t much of an issue.”
Armenian communities in South America are one of the oldest, and her generation faces many obstacles concerning the language. Her parents being Syrian-Armenian, Betty’s Western-Armenian was pretty good. The Eastern dialect was greatly improved when she got acquainted with the Birthright group. She considers it her duty to be active in her community whether it’s in Armenia, Argentina, or anywhere. She participated in every activity the community held in Argentina and was very keen and highly engaged, now she is an active member of ARF and Homenetmen in her homeland.
“I believe the ingredients are in the Diaspora, but the kitchen is in Armenia. That’s where I wanted to be, right in the kitchen. I wanted to participate in developing Armenia itself.”
The main goal in the Diaspora is to preserve the Armenian identity, but in Armenia there is much more to it.
It goes without saying that Armenia has a lot of problems, especially with the government, but Betty has a positive outlook. There is no country like Armenia. It’s only 25 years since its independence, we have to give the country a break. True, there’s much to complain about, but with patience and persistence, everything will eventually fall into place.
“Artsakh is my favorite place in Armenia. I find it the most beautiful and inspirational place in the country. Every time I get a few days off or I’m on a vacation, I always go there. I never get enough of Artsakh. We have friends there who are always excited to see us. We’re treated the same as family members.”
“Repatriates have a different mentality, they possess different potentials. I love the word “Revolution”, but revolution doesn’t have to occur with the presence of violence. I believe that Armenia is in need of an awareness revolution, and repats can contribute a lot in that matter. Fortunately, we have new smart and active generation in Armenia and I’m sure that the country has the best potential ”
People moving to Armenia can be an example to others in the Diaspora, but the country needs to move forward. Armenia is independent, but we still haven’t fully grasped it. The connection with the Diaspora must be strengthened and people in charge must change in order for us to make progress.
“I am trying to settle in with my work. I’m always thinking of making changes. I have a number of ideas.”
Betty believes that contributing to the development of the Armenian community isn’t limited to marches and strikes. Of course, marching for recognition does a lot, but one must use their hands to create something new. People must implement their knowledge and expertise in Armenia, because the main step to grow and evolve is by using one’s brain.
“Everybody wants to be successful, but you also have to be selfless. We can all live in Armenia peacefully, because the country possess safety that no other country has. But to reach accomplishment you have to let go of selfish desires and think as a collective. You must look at the big picture. The only motivation for staying in Armenia shouldn’t be the job one has, it has never worked that way, besides, the Diaspora’s donations must be utilized in the most productive way possible. It shouldn’t be used in a way where it would be useless after a month. The help must be used effectively.”