My Way Home
| From Barnaul, Russia | Moved in 2010
Mariam Gasparyan was born in Tbilisi in 1988. At the age of four her family moved to live in Barnaul, where she lived approximately for 20 years.
“When we were kids, we did not understand the complexities, and then Siberia just got used to the people of Caucasian nationality. As soon as we grew up, we began to realize how much people did not understand us and how reluctant they were in accepting us. I was very fortunate, though, as my high school was international. The students got used to me pretty quickly. I cannot recall even one occasion at school where I was discriminated just because of my nationality, on the contrary, when strangers were discriminatory against me, my classmates were always there to protect me. However, before transferring to the high school, I was shy to speak Armenian in public places. In high school (2004-2005), the majority of Russians had already distinguished Armenians from the other Caucasus nationalities and treated us respectfully. It helped me to live freely and without hesitation announce that I am Armenian.
When you live in a foreign country, the preservation of national values becomes more important. Thanks to my family, a real Armenian woman lives in me! If it were not for them, there would not be this “Armenian soul” inside me."
Gasparyan’s family did not have any connection with Armenia for many years. Mariam attended Armenian school on Sundays. Growing older, she, along with the other representatives of the Armenian youth in Baranaula, kept the Armenian culture and identity alive.
“While working in the youth organization, I realized what it means to be in the Armenian community. How wonderful it is to see understanding in the eyes of the interlocutor in matters where the mentality has a crucial role to play. The desire to visit my historic homeland has always been there, and every year it gradually increased. However, for various reasons it was impossible to come to Armenia, such as my studies or because of my parent’s work.”
An active participation in the life of the Armenian community for more than three years helped Mariam to decide to move to Armenia. Gasparyan’s family moved to Armenia in 2010 when Mariam was studying in her third year at the university.
“There is a branch of my university (RIAT) in Armenia, and I could easily transfer the documents from the various subjects I had already completed. After studying in Yerevan for two years I became even more connected to Armenia. ”
While adapting to the Armenian community, Mariam has made a great contribution to the youth organization SUX (Students Union from the Diaspora). Life in Armenia did not fully coincide with her expectations, as here she had both positive and disappointing moments.
“I am very pleased because compared with 2010, there is definitely a positive change. Here we have a place to grow. Unfortunately the residents of Armenia do not have a sense of patriotism and love towards their country, or for their people, or for themselves as a part of this country. Everything will be fine, you just need to believe and aspire to it. To achieve this you need to change your outlook and stop looking for a better place in the world. Rather, everything must be done in order to have good living conditions both for you and your people, particularly in Armenia. ”
Interview by Sati Tsaturyan
Translated by Lusine Sargsyan
Edited by Amy Gavroian
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