Archives for the month of: April, 2014

One of my consistently favorite things about living in Armenia is when I am reminded about how little I actually know about it. Although this happens every single day, there are certain instances that make me feel especially ignorant and blissfully happy at the same time. For example, let me tell you a little story.

A few weeks ago, I visited a water treatment and waste sanitation facility. (Now I know that’s how most exhilarating stories begin but this one, especially, is a doozy!) As I learned that day, many Armenian water and sanitation systems are based off of outdated technologies. Well, that is about to change. A small, locally run engineering consulting firm that goes by the name of ‘JINJ’ has decided to reconstruct Armenia’s water and waste management capabilities.

Their pilot program takes place in the Parakar town just outside of Yerevan. Through their own, independent research, they developed a new water and waste sanitation facility. This facility not only cleaned the water supply for the villagers, but it also freed up formerly unusable land for farming as a result of proper irrigation and waste management techniques. This is not even the best part. Hold on to your hats guys…

The good people at JINJ spent ten years trying to convince town leaders to let them create this facility.  The amazing part of this is that throughout the duration of the ten years, these people did not leave the country nor did they expend valuable energy complaining about the obstinacy of the people they were dealing with. They had a vision for what they wanted to accomplish in Armenia and they stuck to their guns until they saw the project was accomplished. They do not have some willy-nilly, haphazard idea for Armenia. Instead they have a long-term and sustainable outlook on the future and they plan to get it done no matter how long it takes or how many obstacles surface.

Its stories like this that make it impossible for me to ever lose faith or bemoan the status of this country. The longer I am here the more I realize much of what I thought I knew is wrong and I really have no choice but to have an inexhaustible source of hope and energy for the future because every day I find out about something new that I had no idea about the day before. Its just a matter of getting the word out. And me not feeling like a loser for not knowing about it. But mostly its just a matter of getting the word out.

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As I sit alone in my apartment alternating listening to “Let It Go” and “Be Our Guest,” on youtube because they’re awesome, I’ve decided to confront an unfortunately prevalent opinion that has slowly permeated throughout conversations and various avenues of the social media.  As more and more young diasporans decide to live their lives in Armenia, many onlookers are eager to compartmentalize them as either flighty romantics who clearly haven’t really given the decision much thought (obvs, or they wouldn’t have moved otherwise, right?) or as hyper-adventurous individuals who just want cheap thrills.  I’m here to say that the reality is fortunately much more boring.  There is actually quite a practical reason as to why more diasporans have decided to move and stay in Armenia, at least partially.  It turns out that Armenia actually has quite a lot to offer young, intelligent people in the way of career-opportunities.

 

 

Did you scoff? Maybe chuckle a little?

Hear me out.

I’m not claiming established jobs abound in every sector.  I am however saying that what is usually counted as one of the country’s leading negatives, that many sectors of society are in fact still growing, should start being viewed as not only an inherent positive but a rare opportunity.  The very fact that so much of Armenia is still in its fledgling state and developing every day means that, depending on what you do, you can be the pioneer.  In my extremely humble and unbiased opinion, this is a pretty appealing concept.  Unfortunately, many people also enjoy tearing down this truly liberating reality by righteously exclaiming, “I can’t do anything in Armenia until every problem is fixed and all the proper mechanisms are in place for my arrival.”  To which I resoundingly respond…uhwhat?

No nation or system ever starts in perfect form.  It takes years and years of work by a lot of people who are very dedicated (and who also tend to have an excellent sense of humor).  So for all those people waiting for the perfect conditions until you decide to become involved with Armenia’s development, I’m sorry you wasted your time reading this.  But for those of you who are even slightly intrigued with the idea that you can potentially not only be on the vanguard of working on something you love and make a lasting impact but actually make a career from it, I encourage you to stop waiting for the perfect conditions and just come make your own.

And for anyone who still doesn’t believe my claims, please enjoy the following testimonies of young Armenian youth who came here with a passion and vision and are making things happen on their own terms.  #thingsjustgotrealupinhere

Nora believed that all women should have the ability to not only defend but empower themselves. So what did she do? She started self-defense classes in Yerevan. Check out her facebook and twitter.

https://www.facebook.com/shefighter.am?fref=ts

@SheFighterAM

Lena is an expert in nutritional sciences. So naturally, she decides to come to Yerevan and work with farmers throughout the country to encourage sustainable farming practices by creating Go Green Armenia!

https://www.facebook.com/GGArmenia?fref=ts

(She also has a pretty helpful blog that teaches people like myself, who believe that all food should only be served either fried or dipped in chocolate, that healthy food can be tasty too! http://thetravelingchamelian.blogspot.com/ and @travchamelian)

Serouj’s passion is breaking. He is a world-renowned breaker and he decided to bring that passion to Armenia and work with the local youth to cultivate a new culture of self-expression and positivity. Read about it. http://www.armenianweekly.com/2013/10/29/breaking-the-norm-street-dancing-in-yerevan/

Ani is into global public health. She took that passion and used it to teach Armenian citizens about safe sex practices and other very important things. http://www.epress.am/en/2014/03/25/1400-girls-are-not-born-in-armenia-each-year-perspectives-on-contraception-abortion-in-armenia.html

These are only a handful of stories of young diasporan youth who moved here and turned their passion into something they can dedicate their lives to. There are many more. There is no limit to the potential here. It just takes a few people to stop wallowing in grief about all that isn’t perfect in order to start making it so.