My Way Home

Repat Story
Raffi Berberian
Raffi Berberian
Moved in October 2016, from Philadelphia, USA

Volunteering with Birthright Armenia has changed many Armenians’ life and the way of understanding their homeland. It helped young Armenians from different parts of the world to see what the real Armenia looks like, make friendships that will last forever, and most importantly, it helped them to realize their own big role in the development of their country. Raffi Berberian is one of those young minds, who decided to be a volunteer in Gyumri and now, I’m interviewing him as a repat.

Rima: Raffi, it seems that you like to get out of your comfort zone. What was your Birthright experience like?
Raffi: I would say, that I like to get out of my comfort zone to find a new one. I was born in Philadelphia, studied psychology, was fond of photography and videography, also I was working on two part-time jobs, so we can say, that my life was quite uninteresting back in the US. But it changed completely, when I went home and told my parents that I’m going to Armenia as a volunteer. I came here in June 2015 and stayed until March 2016. My Birthright experience made me who I am today, my host family taught me how to appreciate what you have and always think positive, my new friends made me understand the importance of sharing your thoughts and emotions, also my country built strength and ability to care in me. 

Rima: Wow, I guess it was difficult for you to leave Armenia. What made you repatriate?
Yes, tough times. Before my life in Gyumri, I’ve been to Armenia with my family. We stayed in a comfortable apartment, where everything was working, we visited all touristic treasures and were happy to be here. We went back satisfied with our visit, but I can tell with 100% certainty, that being tourists we haven’t seen anything. Armenia has so many layers, it might take you a whole life to discover it. I was ready to dedicate myself to this discovery, I wanted to be the part of today and was more than happy to take part in changes we hope to see here. This sense of belonging was one of the reasons. What surprised me was that here my life had a meaning. I was working as a photographer, I met so many great individuals, change-makers, I was busy with new experiences. So, it  didn’t take me too long to pack my belongings and move here. I repatriated in October of 2016 and am very glad for that decision.

Rima: As you mentioned, your life is much more interesting here. Are there any stories that you can share with us?
Raffi: Even if you’ve been here just for one day, you will leave Armenia with a package of memories. Gyumri, as the city of humor, provided the package. My friends and I always go out in Yerevan, meet crazy people, enjoy our life. I also work as a photographer, so you can imagine how many awesome events and parties I’ve been to. I specially like visiting Artsakh as Stepanakert is my favorite city in the world. You can feel the life, struggle, love and care of the people for their land. Staying in Shoushi was one of the interesting experiences in my life, as there were a lot of ruined houses, where no one was living or houses covered with bullet holes. I felt like I'm in a game zone or something like that. But it wasn’t a game, it was the reality that people live in. That was impressive. 

You know, my every day spent here is full of surprises. One thing I know for sure, if you want to change your life, or get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, you should come to Armenia. It will worth it. Here you can learn more than you think and enjoy yourself as an individual more than anywhere else. Just take the chance and use your opportunities. 

Posted by Rima Yeghiazarian


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