My Way Home

16.09.2016
Armenian by Birth
Armen Bandikian
Armen Bandikian
 
| From New York, USA | Moved in 2014

 
It’s quite unusual to meet a business analyst, former dancer, and volunteer priest anywhere in the world, but especially unusual here in Armenia. But Armen Bandikian is a bit of a renaissance man, and one who has been living in Armenia for two years.

“My cousin convinced me to come spend a couple of weeks in Armenia,”  he explains. “And that’s when I realized that there’s actually a lot of potential here.”

Armen was born and raised in New York City to parents who had met in New York after emigrating from the Soviet Union in the 1970s and ‘80s. Growing up in America, Armen and his parents made sure to nurture his Armenian identity. He danced in an Armenian dance group for eight years and volunteered at an Armenian church.

 Later, he began a career in the IT field as a product manager and business analyst. But he explains that his work life in the States was one of the major contributing factors in his decision to move.
 
"I was getting up in the morning to go to work and returning in the evening. There was nothing else in my life,”  he admits. “And even when I would go out with friends, there was still some kind of emptiness.”

So when his cousin, also a repatriate from Los Angeles, bugged him repeatedly to come here for a visit, Armen obliged.

“Whenever I came to Armenia for a visit, something just felt right,” he says.

Upon returning to New York, Armen returned to a life he found to be unfulfilling, and one short month after his visit to Armenia, he made the decision to move here permanently. “Though there truly is no city like New York, I just found there to be more opportunities here,” he says.

Armen works similar hours in the same field here, but finds it more enjoyable to be a worker here than in the US. He finds himself doing much more here than he did in the states. He still volunteers at a church here in Yerevan, but more recently he also worked as a translator at the Golden Apricot Film Festival. “And currently, I’m planning my next step,” he explains. “I’ve been trying to do a lot of things, like talking with Armenians abroad and trying to get them to repatriate, or at least come for a visit.”

“I want them to come here with an open mind,” he says, when asked about what advice he could give for those Armenians abroad who could potentially com here.
“They should all want to come here and improve our country- and they can. It doesn’t have to all be charity either. You can greatly improve the country with business, for example.”

It’s something he is always actively attempting to do, and something he thinks anyone can do. Just by coming here and bringing certain skills and finding or creating your own job here, Armen believes just about anyone can better the country. And, according to him, it’s not as difficult as most people perceive it to be.

You’re a big fish in a small pond here,” he elaborates. “In America, you’re a small fish in a big pond.”

And for the locals and the youth, he explains that the options are endless. They can take many paths to their own happiness-be it financial, spiritual, or religious-while helping to improve their homeland.

“We should encourage people to build small businesses, grow existing ones, and be active in their communities,” he explains. “We need to give people a reason to come here and stay here.”

Ultimately, he views the future of the country very optimistically and feels very confident in his decision to move to Armenia.

“In America, you’re in the matrix,” he says. “Here you’re in the real world.”

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