My Way Home

Armenian by Birth
Garo Serpekian
Garo Serpekian
| From Amman, Jordan | Moved in 2015

Garo Serpekian is a young repatriate from Amman, Jordan. He moved to Armenia in 2015, after volunteering for Birthright Armenia. He opened his own business in Stepanakert and is also the director of Naregatsi Art Institute in Shushi, Artsakh.
Garo, every Armenian from the Diaspora dreams about living in Armenia someday. What made you turn your dream into a reality?
I was born and raised in Amman, Jordan, but my family is originally from Marash, Western Armenia. When your family preserves the Armenian identity, it is impossible for you to forget your roots and your history. So I came to Armenia as a tourist in 2007 for the first time and I really enjoyed it.

My intention to come back was so strong that faith presented me a new opportunity in 2014, when I was invited to a wedding in Armenia. In february 2015 I became a volunteer for Birthright Armenia. Those 6 months completely changed my perception of understanding Armenia and the vision for my life. The Birthright experience made me realize that Armenia and Artsakh are exactly where I need to be, so as you can see, I’m not a tourist anymore.
It is a big challenge to start everything from zero and take all the responsibility in case you fail. Were you ready to take that major step in your life?
My life in Amman was full of different activities. I have two specializations: accountant and audio engineer. In other words, I had my job there, my life was planned and of course, filled with a lot of stress. But I wasn’t happy, there was something missing. When I told my parents about my decision, they were surprised and didn’t believe I was serious.

Even with a ticket to Armenia in my hands they weren’t sure whether I’m moving or not. Looking back, I can say with 100% certainty that I was more than ready to take that responsibility. The failure wasn’t scaring me, because I was going to work, try hard, do my best and succeed.

You opened your business in Artsakh, also you are the director of Naregatsi Art Institute in Shushi. Why did you choose Artsakh?
Artsakh stole my heart once and forever. It’s not only about the nature or the history, it’s about people, determination, strength and persistence. This generation is smart, ready for change, looking to reach their goals, and broaden their horizons. I get my motivation mostly from them. However, I’m here because I feel myself and my experience is important. Armenia needs Armenians, every single one of us can change it into a better place. I opened my ‘’Muklimandil Coffee and Wine’’ cafe՛ in Stepanakert. ‘’Muklimandil’’ in the local dialect means ‘’net’’.

I want Artsakh’s people to come, enjoy their time, the menu, the environment and become part of the big net I am trying to cast. Being the director of the Naregatsi Art Institute in Shushi is a whole other experience. This is the place where I can try to have an impact on cultural development of the country. So, as you can see, I have the ‘’weapons’’ and the ‘’strategy’’ for the successful ‘’attack’’.

Your example can inspire and motivate many Armenians. What is your advice for those, who want to repatriate?
First of all, visit Armenia, feel how real it is, see how people live, and what their attitude is towards our homeland. It is very important to figure out whether you are ready to be a part of that lifestyle or not. If you are not, don’t push yourself, because if Armenia doesn’t take your heart and soul, it means you are not ready for repatriation yet. If you can’t stop thinking of finding ways to move here, welcome to the club. Also, people think one should have a lot of money for moving here, but it’s not necessary.

I opened my business in Artsakh with little money but in Jordan even opening a small business would cost me much more. Note that Armenia won’t do your job for you, won’t make your life easier, won’t reserve your place in the imaginary heaven, but will show you how to live, love, enjoy your life. Most importantly Armenia will teach you how to be the owner of your homeland. This last one you will only get from Armenia.

Interviewed by Rima Yeghiazarian
Edited by Ardag Kosian

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