My Way Home

Armenian by Birth
Garni Baroni
Garni Baroni
| From Los Angeles, USA | Moved in 2015

Garni Baroni is an Armenian who was born in Germany, then with his family moved, to Los Angeles at a young age. He graduated from college in 2014.
“I was raised around Armenian people, around my parents and friends. The first time I visited Yerevan in 2011 with my parents. I really liked it here so I found out about Birthright Armenia, and in the past couple of years I’ve been coming here not to be a tourist, but to participate as a part of Armenia. I’ve been working in Gyumri for about two months, teaching English and hand crafting. I quickly realized that I could live here. During that time, I met some Armenians who also came to their fatherland from various countries, and from them, found out all the necessary information about living here."
Living in Los Angeles for so long, and then adjusting to life in Armenia was obviously not the same. However, the difference in living conditions did not bother Garni.
“I feel a lot better living here. The life I live here turns out to be more interesting compared with the life in Los Angeles. The community here is a lot more connected. You can’t find the same connection in Glendale, as they have a different mentality. In Armenia, it feels different; it feels like we’re all working toward the same goal to prosper in this country and in our personal lives”.
Being a tourist in Armenia and actually living in Armenia are two different experiences. People who make the decision to come and live here for their entire lives usually have that moment of realization, when they just think “this is where I should be”. However, it was not like that for Garni.
“I always knew I wanted to live here. But the living conditions did not allow me make that decision; first it was college, then it was my job. Besides, I’d never seen Armenians who lived in America coming back to their fatherland. But when I came to work here for two months, I met all the people who left the United States (and other countries) and came here, and they were actually living normal lives. I then realized it was possible for me, too”.
Garni moved to Armenia alone. His entire family and friends stayed in United States.
“My parents still have the opinion that my life in Los Angeles would be more successful than it will be in Armenia. However, I don’t think that way at all. Maybe I can be a lot more successful in America financially, but Armenia gives me so much more than America could ever do. The friendship and warm reception that I have is nothing close to what I had in Los Angeles. The interaction with people here is more active. People in Los Angeles go to college, go to work, come home, and do it all over again. They don’t have time to spend with family and friends. It is different here; you go out every day. In that sense, Yerevan is more alive”.
Even though Garni enjoys living in Armenia, he doesn’t deny that he could also one day go back, or move to another country.
“If I feel that I am not comfortable here or if I can be more successful somewhere else, I’ll leave. I didn’t come here because I’m Armenian, I came here to enrich myself mentally and spiritually, and I think that Armenia is a very good place to find yourself. Now I have a better understanding of what I want and the path that I’m going to take. I know that I’m going to be connected to Armenia for the rest of my life.
I’m willing to contribute to my country, and I think that the biggest contribution to Armenia is bringing something new; it can be knowledge, business, new opinions, or even new ideas. The contribution from me would probably be towards the support of art. I studied Political science, economics and philosophy, yet, I believe that I can make a bigger impact and contribution through arts. The best way to do that is through festivals”.
Asking Garni “What is your favorite thing about Armenia”, he simply answered
“I love Yerevan. The fact that it’s so alive. There’s always something to do here every day. You never get bored of the city. “
Conducted by Marina Babayan
Edited by Armen Martirosian

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