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Impact Maker
Repat Impact: Lucineh Kassarjian
Repat Impact: Lucineh Kassarjian
Your reasons to be present in Armenia’s today and contribute to its future development are just as great as this interview with an ambitious, smart and incredibly talented woman, whose sense of humor is probably not the only thing you should be jealous of (wait, we don’t have any space for jealousy, just a tiny eensy weensy thing, okay?).

Yes, that’s right, today we are going to talk with and about Lucineh Kassarjian, the woman with IQ, EQ and LQ. And if you are wondering what on earth does the LQ mean, let me explain it to you. LQ aka Love Quality is a new term in the business, so I was waiting for it to be created just to expose it with a proper description of her personality. 

Having this most important statement out of the way first, here is the long awaited interview with the Co-Founder and CEO of Sensyan Club, former Country Director of Armenia Tree Project, Co-Founder of ReAnimania Festival, Co-Founder of RepatArmenia, Founder of MolorakArts, author of ‘’Someone Else’s Cloud’ children’s book, Board Member of a number of organizations, including Yerevan Chapter of the Awesome Foundation, Armenian Virtual College, Girls of Armenia Leadership Soccer-GOALS, Armenian Education Foundation, Bay Area Friends of Armenia, former computer arts instructor at KZV Armenian School of San Francisco and, boy, this list goes on and on. (Well, no more eensy weensy little thing, okay?) 

-Lucineh, you were born in the Soviet Armenia under the big iron curtain in a family of repatriates from France and Uruguay. The stories we read about the hardships of the Soviet era are not even close to what we hear from the local old generation, including my grandfather. Can you tell us about your family’s experience?

-Core value system and the ideology of socialism brought my grandparents to the Soviet Armenia. The truth is that even their entrance wasn’t very welcoming. The soviet propaganda was marketing the repatriates what an exciting, exemplary and rich country Soviet Armenia was, so when the ‘’repatriation ship’’ was about to set anchor at Batumi port from Marseilles, my maternal grandparents saw people standing on the shore eating what they thought was chocolate. ‘’What a rich country! Everyone is eating chocolate!’’- they thought. In reality, those people were “enjoying” their daily ration of dark “second sort” bread. My grandparents’ luggages were stolen immediately after they got off the boat. What an interesting start to a new life, right?

There are many stories like this one and, surely, my grandparents had to undergo a lot of hardships for being ‘’akhpars’’, but they knew exactly why they moved to Armenia and were ready to start a whole new life here, with a positive perspective and narrative.

Years passed, I was born, and my life as a happy soviet child full of love and care started. My parents had their own community of friends and family, who were professionals with a significant input in Armenia’s social and cultural life. This period of my life brings back only good memories, having the core value system of respect towards each other, family, elderly, environment, animals, culture, friends -- you know, just a great value system starting from the school. 

Most people remember their past with nostalgy and every family has its own experience. We as kids have lived a “pink childhood” oblivious of the iron curtain of information, and being “pampered” with Soviet propaganda. My father was rejected the opportunity and his dream to become a pilot for the sole reason that he was from Uruguay and could create “security issues”. My mother’s family narrowly escaped a “roadtrip” to Siberia with most of their neighboring French-Armenian repatriates. But all these impediments have diminished having my family’s long journey full of unprecedented love towards their country and dedication to their ideology and values.

-Were there many differences in the ways you and your peers were brought up?
-The main difference was that my family used to attend church, which was a rare case for others in Soviet Armenia. My parents were (and still are) quite liberal, both of them being educators, and I grew up having a lot of freedom to do anything I considered to be the right thing for me, vs other girls not being able to participate in lots of activities which were otherwise granted to boys. That, I guess, was another difference. Overall, I was very active and fully integrated.

-Armenia now has a completely different picture, or at least, we, ‘’the crazy ones’’ want to think like that. At the age of 20 you moved to San Francisco and returned in 2008 with your family. What does Armenia give you that America or any other country can’t?
- I could name so many things which people take for granted here, and which otherwise would be unthinkable living in a different country. Sending your kids alone in a cab, for one. Having impromptu plans (multiple of them, in one day!) is another. Overall, the biggest advantage, besides having the honor to see Ararat and Aragats every day, is bringing up the kids in this environment. Armenia maybe has the most child-centered culture. Having said this, I cannot dismiss our wonderful San Francisco lifestyle. If I had to choose an alternative location, the Bay Area would top the list. But then again, we are going back to the value system that’s familiar and dear to my heart.

I’m Yerevantsi, I walk in the streets of Yerevan with a Yerevantsi attitude, I see things around me that make me happy, sad, angry, disappointed, excited, inspired, etc. Why? Because I care. Why? Because I love this land and this is where I belong to. Why? Because I have the chance to make it the way I want it to be. Why? Because I live here. Yes, there is an ample amount of challenges here, but many of them, if not most, have their solutions and are not that difficult to overcome, improve or optimise. It’s just a matter of vision, willpower and time. Also, I wanted to follow the family tradition and be a repatriate again. (Smiles)

-Your Yerevantsi attitude, though. I love the story how you threw the pack of cigarettes back to the person’s car who threw it out of the window. 
- I think everyone should understand that there are a lot of people who really care about their city and can’t stand the inconsiderate attitude. Thank God, we are on our way to adopt the anti-smoking law. (Smiles)

-And finally, Lucineh, Tebi or Not Tebi Armenia?
-Tebi the prosperous piece of undiscovered platform for IT, educational, innovational, cultural and spiritual development, which is on its way to be upgraded to the world’s next new (and so ancient!) gem. It’s happening, and you better take the better seats!
Posted byRima Yeghiazarian

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