A trip to Armenia is so important for any Armenian, especially the youth. Though we thought it was impossible to become even more committed Armenians, our experiences in Armenia proved us wrong.
The first day we were there, none of us knew what to do, so we did what Armenians know how to do best: Eat! We traveled around Yerevan and stopped at a lahmajoun fast food restaurant (which we ended up going back to at least seven more times). After that, we explored the beautiful city and noticed all the little differences between Hayastan and America. It was crazy to see that as different as the two countries are, there are many similarities as well.
Every single day was special and had some sort of significance to it. Going to Tsitsernakaberd was unbelievable and absolutely something that we will never forget. As you walk to the memorial, you are hit with a wave of emotion. We felt as though we were with all of our ancestors and fellow Armenians who had experienced the genocide. As representatives of the next generation, we felt the responsibility of perpetuating Armenian heritage and culture. Thinking of all of that really was special, so naturally a few prideful tears were shed.
As important as the genocide is to every single Armenian, it is not the only thing that we should promote when talking about our nation. Our country’s beautiful and majestic architecture, churches, agriculture, food, people, dances, and so forth, are all things that we need to share with the rest of the world. Everywhere we went, people selling their homemade products would urge us to try their jams, fruits, breads, wines, and vodka, and were happy to see our reactions when we enjoyed them.
Visiting the oldest cathedral in the world at Echmiadzin was truly unique. Every single thing about it was beautiful. It was really cool that we went the day we did, because it also happened to be “the last bell day,” which is the last day of school for all students . So we saw many children in their uniforms taking pictures and celebrating their last day of school with friends and family.
One of the most breathtaking views was when we went to Lake Sevan. We were honestly speechless and couldn’t believe the beauty that was right before us.
We also went to the Ararat brandy factory. Seeing where and how they made the famous Ararat Brandy, was super interesting. At the end of the tour, we each tried glasses of three and ten year old Brandy.
After that we went to Vernisage (which was certainly not the only time we went there). As young Armenian Americans, it was phenomenal to hear the bartering in Armenian. We spent many hours and spent a lot of dram there… all worth it.
By far, the most unforgettable and memorable part of the trip was experiencing and celebrating May 28th 2018 in Armenia, the 100th anniversary of the First Republic of Armenia. We woke up early and got a ride with a few other people from our group to Sardarapad. Busy, chaotic, hectic. Those words don’t even begin to describe the atmosphere there, but we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. There was nothing like being at the scene of the battle that preserved Armenian independence. Crowds going miles down the street, planes flying over with red, blue and orange coming out of them, everyone singing heghapokhagan songs, celebrating OUR independence together, there was nothing else like it. Later that night in Republic Square was a huge concert for everyone to sing and dance. During the concert, there were projections and animations on the buildings of the Armenian flag, warriors, the bulls at Sardarapad. When the projection of the flag came on the buildings and we heard the orchestra start to play Mer Hayrenik, that was when it all became real to us. That is when we realized how truly blessed, thankful, and proud we are to be Armenian. Everyone sang, cried, and cheered together. The most amazing fireworks served as the climax to a once in a lifetime opportunity that we are so thankful we were part of.
When we went to Khor Virap and saw Ararat, it had to be the most bittersweet sight any Armenian can see. Bitter because knowing in our hearts that it is our mountain and yet lies in the country that took away our land and our people. But looking at its beauty and knowing that it represents the strength we possess, that was the sweet part.
After that we went on our journey to Artsakh. Stepanakert was beautiful and the people there were so humble and sweet. We were struck by the injustice in separating Artsakh from Armenia. The international community must recognize the rights of the people of Artsakh.
We wanted to thank the ARF Azadamard Gomideh for sponsoring our trip. This experience was something we can each honestly say we will never forget.
Talar Bagdasarian is 20 years old from the Detroit, Michigan. She is currently a Junior at the University of Michigan Dearborn and majoring in psychology. She has been apart of the AYF Detroit Kopernik Tandourjian chapter since she was 10 years old and plans to stay involved in the community as long as possible. This year, she had the pleasure of being one of the advisors to our junior chapter, while also being the head counselor at Camp Haiastan. She worked at the Camp for the past three years and has never been more in love with a job in her life.
Alique Bagdasarian is 17 years old and just graduated high school, and is soon to enter her freshman year of college. She works at a daycare called Great Beginnings, where I take care of children from infants to five year olds. When she’s not in school or working, she enjoys attending Armenian events, where she meets new people and learns about history.
Nick Boyadjian is a 19 year old student from Farmington Hills, currently dually enrolled at The University of Michigan Dearborn and Oakland Community College. This upcoming fall will be the start of his sophomore year, where he will continue working towards becoming a physical therapist. Church and Armenian community are two of the most important things in his life. In addition to everything else, he joined the Detroit Kopernik Tandourjian AYF chapter this past year and has really enjoyed attending events and making friends.