My Way Home
| From Iraq | Moved in 2003
Arpi Setrak was five years old when she and her family moved from Iraq to Armenia. Currently, she lives in the homeland and is studying to become a journalist. Arpi talked about her ancestors, her childhood in Iraq and the reality in Armenia in an interview with Hayern Aysor.
Hayern Aysor: Arpi, where are your ancestors from? What road did they take and how did they settle in Iraq?
Arpi Setrak: My father’s ancestors were from Mush and Zeytun, and my mother’s family is from Iran. During the years of the deportations, my grandfather reached Iraq, got married and started a family, ust like my parents did. My sister and I were born in Iraq.
My father is a geologist and worked by his profession for a couple of years, but during the war, he started working as a jeweler since it was hard for him to find a job. My mother was working at the Armenian Prelacy of Iraq.
Hayern Aysor: How was your and your sister’s childhood in Iraq?
A. S.: I was little and don’t remember much from my childhood in Iraq. The only thing I remember is that I was a very curious and mischievous child. I loved to draw, sing and dance. Since It is hard to preserve the Armenian identity abroad, my parents would take me and my sister to an Armenian Sunday school. We would also attend song and dance lessons so that we could preserve our Armenian roots and grow up with the Armenian spirit.
I went to kindergarten for six months in Iraq. After that, the war broke out, and all kindergartens were closed down. My sister, Ayg was in the graduating class when we moved to Armenia. She continued her studies here. My sister is a linguist and an expert in Oriental studies.
I am very grateful to my parents for providing us with an Armenian upbringing and for the fact that we are in Armenia now.
Hayern Aysor: Arpi, you are studying in the Faculty of Journalism at Yerevan State University. Why did you choose journalism as a profession?
A. S.: I have always been interested in how journalists work and how they prepare reports and take interviews. For me, journalist is a profession that is the closest to my heart, and I can’t imagine myself in another field.
When I had just gotten accepted to the university, I was afraid that I might be disappointed, but now I have a greater desire to become a good journalist.
Hayern Aysor: Could you tell us how you starred in the film “Garegin Nzhdeh”?
A. S.: The shootings for the film “Garegin Nzhdeh” had just begun when one of my friends called me and said the directors needed someone who would do a voice over for a child speaking in Western Armenian in the film. The child starring in the film was seven years old and wasn’t able to speak in Western Armenian.
I felt very responsible when I found out that I was going to be working with film director Hrach Keshishyan, but working with him was very pleasant and interesting. We worked in a warm and friendly atmosphere. I am very happy that I did the voice over in the film because this is truly a great and serious film. I take pride in the fact that I made a small contribution to the film about our great warrior Garegin Nzhdeh.
Hayern Aysor: How do you feel in Armenia?
A. S.: I am very busy and active in Armenia. I went to kindergarten and school and formed my circle of friends here. I currently study in a very warm and friendly atmosphere at the university. I feel so good at the university that I often don’t want to go home. I am a member of the YSU Vardanank Military-Patriotic Discipline Club and participate in different kinds of events devoted to Armenian freedom fighters.
Hayern Aysor: What advice would you give to your Armenian peers abroad?
A. S.: My only advice is to come to Armenia because Armenia is the home of all Armenians. We Armenians feel “incomplete” abroad. No matter how much we work and study, we feel like strangers everywhere. In the homeland, we set our foot firmly on the ground and know that this is ours. No matter what happens and where we go, we have a homeland. My desire is to see everyone come and build our homeland.
Posted by Tatev Davtyan
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