We all know that about a century ago when the Armenian Genocide was taking place, Armenians fled around the world. Some escaped to the Middle East, some to Europe, some to the Americas, and others elsewhere. Today there are around three times as many Armenians living outside of Armenia than there are inside. We don’t need a history lesson on the Armenian Genocide but some of those Armenians that fled Western Armenia during the time of Genocide have assimilated into the culture of their respective countries. Others still have their Armenian last names and few still thrive and remain Armenian to its full capacity.
Armenian parents in the diaspora struggle to keep their children Armenian. Whether it is by sending them to Armenian school, Armenian church, Armenian youth groups, Armenian sport organizations, or just by speaking Armenian at home. In rare instances these avenues are successful, unfortunately in most cases especially in this new era and with this upcoming generation these outlets do not work as they once did to counter assimilation. We see assimilation first hand every day, we see the “White Genocide” unfolding in front of our eyes and yet, there is not much we can do to counter it.
What if there was a way to keep your kids Armenian and help Armenia at the same time. If keeping your future generations Armenian and ensuring that Armenia is becoming a stronger, self-reliant, and developed nation is important to you, then repatriating is the only long term solution.
Some might say that repatriation is a sacrifice, that your quality of life might diminish, that certain luxuries and even some necessities might not be available anymore. Others that have already repatriated or have spent an extended stay, more than a summer trip in Armenia know that this is not the case. Most repatriates and Armenians who have stayed in Armenia for over a month will be the first to tell you that the living standards and the overall quality of life is actually the same as Western Europe and the United States. Some might even argue that the standards are better. We can argue about overall happiness, crime rates and so on but at the end of the day it is mostly a subjective question where only you can answer after visiting the country.
Various industries and start-ups are booming in Armenia and are headed by recent repatriates. These repatriates are not only serving themselves in order to live a happy and comfortable life inside of Armenia but are also creating jobs in Armenia. They are paving the way of our countries future, they are ensuring that Armenia becomes a strong nation, they are each playing a role and doing their duties as Armenians.
Repatriates are in need in Armenia. Today with globalization playing such a crucial role in the world economy, companies in Armenia need repatriates from all over the world in order to help fulfill growing demands. Armenia is in need of the expertise that professionals from the diaspora can bring to the table. Repatriates with native tongues in foreign languages or knowledge in a wide array of fields can help Armenia by using their expertise and to further develop the economy and the market of Armenia. Repatriates should and will have a major role in the future of Armenia. They will help shape our nation and make it stronger and better in every aspect.
We always act patriotic here in the diaspora. We sing Armenian songs, learn about freedom fighters of the past, and learn about Armenian history with great pride. We say that we want what’s best for Armenia and that we are ready to do whatever it might take to achieve this goal. But what would we really do for Armenia? What would we truly sacrifice? Would we really go and do what Monte Melkonian or Garo Kahkedjian did? Do we even have to do what they did? Would we do a fraction of what some people have done in the past? Would we even do something that is so miniscule compared to what others have done? WOULD WE MOVE TO ARMENIA?
We have successfully convinced ourselves that we can help Armenia more from the outside than we would be able to from within. We say that sending our children to Armenian school and volunteering for the local organizations is enough, because it has helped us stay Armenian for years and will continue to do so.
We need to stop lying to ourselves. The existence of the diaspora is temporary. It was never meant to be a permanent existence but simply a provisional solution until Armenia had their own sovereign nation. Armenians from the diaspora as they have done in the past, will move from city to city, country to country searching for comfort and a better life. Along with gaining superficial comfort, they will slowly lose their language, culture, traditions and identity, as they already have. We can hope that some will stay Armenian and try to contribute to the homeland in one way or another. We can hope that their kids remain Armenian and cherish the language, culture and traditions, but then what? Who cares if someone has all of those characteristics, what good would it do if they’re just going to assimilate during the next generation?
All in all, the diaspora is a major force that our homeland has at its use. But all of us in the diaspora should understand that if we want our future generations to be Armenian then we need to take a step towards the homeland. Armenia has her hand out and is going to help you while you help her, are you going to reach out and take her hand and let her guide you, or get drowned by the waters of assimilation?
Repatriation is important and will play a big role for the future of Armenia, but repatriation is essential for the future of our children and our grandchildren to remain Armenian.