About my life in Armenia, about being a mom and an activist, working for women's rights.
The challenges and benefits of raising a family in a post-soviet republic.
Finding a place, my place and calling it HOME.


To move or not to move

It’s been almost 7 years that I moved to Armenia with my family. My oldest was 2 and a half at that time, my second was 7 months old and my 3rd wasn’t born yet.
It was quite challenging at the beginning; trying to find the essential products and foods needed for my babies, the search for a good pediatrician, then a trustworthy babysitter to have some spare time and work on the “women’s resource center” project. It was also difficult to adapt to the different language (eastern Armenian) and the cultural differences. But for us it was an interesting challenge that we took wholeheartedly. Armenia was something we wanted to experience, my husband and I since our student years at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. And we made it happen.

Some people still don’t understand how you can leave a “perfect” country to settle for this problematic one where human rights are not protected, where every daily chore is a challenge of its own. Local Armenians still ask me “but why? Why did you come here?”

I don’t know what to tell them. Being in Armenia came naturally to us. I don’t deny the fact that some days it gets so hard that I often question my move too. There is just no right answers …you need to experience what you feel you should and then see how it goes. You never know where it will take you after.
Armenia did change me a lot…it tested my limits, both as an Armenian and as a human being. It helped me understand what is important and what is not in my own identity and life.

But most of all it helped me to UNLEARN and to be free.


  1. Thanks for your thoughts, Lara.. Starting my tenth year in Armenia on September 5th(when I actually will not be in Armenia at all, but in Sri Lanka). I tried to leave earlier this year. I announced it to my closest circle of friends here....openly, officially at a dinner gathering. But I am still here. I am not leaving, at least not permanently. And I have no idea why. Well, not true, the reasons I am here are called Salpi, Alex, Ktrij, Paula, Vahe, Odette, Shake, and yes, Raffi and Lara and others. We need a critical mass of people like us to be here, to want change, to work for change. To support those good people we find here, to give them a chance to live in a 'perfect' country. When I told people I was planning on leaving, one of those good local NGO people said 'If people like you leave, what hope do we have?' A gross imagination, that, yes..but there is some truth in it anyway. Would love to chat more with you and Raffi about things like this. These discussions are important and lindering...and give me the strength to carry on banging my head against the Armenian wall.

  2. I love your post, Lara. Though I am not Armenian, so the whole "moving to the motherland"-aspect is absent from my story, I recognize a lot of what you write.

    Though I've lived in Armenia for almost five years, people still ask me: "Why? What for? Do you love it here?" In voices flowing over with disbelieve. I moved because living here challenges me, makes me grow as a person, because I have the chance to experience things I would otherwise not have experienced, things that make me a richer person.

    Do I love Armenia? Love is not the right word. I am not someone who loves a country. Gee, I don't even love my native country Holland. There's lots I appreciate and value about Holland (that's something else I learned in Armenia), but love? No. Likewise, I don't love Armenia. But it is where I want to live right now, with all its good and its bad sides, where I see opportunities to do the things I care about and that are important to me.

  3. Tim's comment made me realize I forgot something: I can make a difference here. On a small scale and despite often feeling that it's all pointless.

  4. I suppose at the end of the day, the decision to go or stay comes down to priorities. I know personally, I would be there but for the fact that my familial obligations are more of a priority than being in Armenia. It's that simple. Not that I don't miss being there, because I fully understand the inexplicability of Armenia. All the locals think you are insane for moving to a country they are waiting in queues to leave. Again, it's all about priorities. There is no judgement involved. Somewhere between making a living, improving the quality of one's life (highly objective) and leaving a legacy for (fill in the blank), there is Armenia.
    Many come with a mindset of trying to "help" Armenia by moving there. I can honestly say that Armenia doesn't need any "help." There is nothing that needs saving. There is however a sense of belonging, of coming home and a particular sense of ease that does occurr as a result of experiencing where it all started. You can never go home again, or so the saying goes. But each visit has been different for me, and at time I've hated it. But it's that what being part of a community is about? Much like the macrocosm of the family, diasporans struggle with the internal and external realities. who wouldn't?
    I can't say that I would be contemplating the same thoughts as you, Lara jan, if I had other mouths to feed and to take care of. And so at the end of the day, it's not that being in Armenia is not a priority, just that there are other priorites that you have now developed. The shift in thought is evolutionary and expected. It does not, however, assume you are now irreverant towards Armenia. On the contrary. I believe it means you care enough about it and your children to ensure there is another generation who can go back and stay perhaps twice as long as you did... it's the whole put the oxygen mask over you before you put it over your children speech you get in the airplane. As far as I am concerned you are still doing what's best for Armenia, even if you decide to leave.

  5. Beautiful West

    These gray streets remind you of all the work needed to cover up reality.
    The cabs drive, no one cares, here or there, life remains the same.
    These empty streets reek of antisocial socialization.
    Hate exists in a bubble. the spectacle of modernization.
    Everyone wants to be. No one really likes it.
    As if one more car,
    As if one more tree
    As if one more dumb diplomat is really gonna make you free.
    between who sleeps and who works, who struggles and who rests.
    Here or there, everyone wants the best.

    The same people want more
    the same people want to be free
    the same people struggle,
    the same ones create change.
    No one communicates.
    endless cycles of stares or questions.
    here or there, living attraction.

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  7. I still believe that 20 000 diasporans and 10 000 non-armenian immigrants need to settle in Yerevan in the next 12 months... how do we do that?

    see my previous blog:http://midk.blogspot.com/2009/08/repats-needed-urgent.html

  8. I read Your blog Raffi! People coming in, investing, exploiting 'virgin land' metaphorically or physically is just going to ruin everything that makes armenia beautiful and different. if 20 000 of them came, instant change, instand blow-out, maybe you don't imagine how corporate culture can really change how people relate and the general culture of a people. Plus, I don't thinks it's really worth importing so many diasporans with the argument that they will improve the human right culture here. I think they will bring in worst things with them, like status privilege, westernism, vacant living and (more) pollution. There are different kind of diasporans out there, i guess i am hoping only certain types move to Armenia but then that would make me a fascist, in a way. I am really intense on the internet!