This trip has lead all of us to many unknowns. The drive to Javakhk was especially suspenseful. We did not know what kind of town or people we would walk into. We did not know if we were going to comfortably project combinations of words and sentences that brought mutual understanding. We did not know how deep the Armenian culture was dug into disguise. Many of us are used to a different world.
Our arrival was met with intrigued faces. The people were eager to dismantle the silence yet maintained the noiseless noise for observational purposes. Soon enough, we patted the vibes with sincere greetings as if we were all meeting a long-lost brother or sister.
The youth centers of Akhaltskha and Akhalkalak were quite simple. Ordinary in the ways the chairs were left and especially the wall decorations. In each space of culture haven, the walls were hugged with Armenian calendars and drawings of flags and fallen heroes that the youth of the building created. None of these pieces were radical in the love of their heritage, but the pieces quietly spoke it through the rooms. Seeing these faint movements on the wall glued my feet to the space I was viewing it from. I kept comparing it to the walls of my youth center back home. These thoughts circled me for a while.
All of us have pinned our hearts to the vocalization of our culture and historical roots. We have promised to continue to sing the songs that our grandparents have. We have made it our spirits’ call to reveal any wrongdoings that attempt to hush our culture’s colors. Some can work in uproars while others can only work behind dark curtains.
The people of Javakhk work quietly but work with the greatest of forces to hold their Armenian-ness tightly. They hold their grip by continuing the work through the power of passion.
This is what I got when I stared at those subtle walls. I did not respond with feeling sorry for the people for not being able to louden their hearts. I did not feel a drip of pity. However, I felt the toughness of the people. I felt their resisting energies vibrate through those plain walls.
Another moment that can never fall victim to memory loss was my conversation with one of the locals. For the sake of connection, I questioned him as to why he did not relocate to Armenia. His response was needed. He said, “Why should we move? This is our Armenia.”
The story of Javakhk and its people is very promising. As a diasporan, I am ready whenever to include myself in this process.