“Repatriation to Armenia: Myth or Reality?” RepatArmenia Comes To AUA with Encouraging Stories of Repatriation

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YEREVAN, ArmeniaOn November 20, 2015, the RepatArmenia Foundation, a non-governmental, non-profit institution, established in 2012 with the aim of promoting repatriation of Armenians, particularly of high-impact (professional, entrepreneurial) individuals and families to Armenia, held a forum at the American University of Armenia (AUA) on the theme of “Repatriation to Armenia: Myth or Reality?”

Among the main speakers at the event were Vartan Marashlyan, William Bairamian, Raffi Elliott, Tamar Najarian, Niery Grace Bardakjian, and Raffi Kassarjian, all repatriated Armenians originally from Russia, Canada, and the United States.

The aim of the event was to provide information about RepatArmenia programs and the ideals of repatriation. Another important goal was to demystify the transition from student to repatriate, for students from different parts of the world considering to make the switch. Other issues that were addressed included the repatriation process, personal repatriation experiences, as well as the issues and opportunities of employment and career-building activities in Armenia.

The panel members represented a variety of backgrounds—from those who moved at an older age to those who are children of repatriates and have decided to stay in Armenia, like Bardakjian. During the Q&A session that followed the event, questions about AUA’s role in repatriation, as well as what educational options are available in Armenia, were discussed.

Concern was raised that AUA, Luys Foundation, and other educational programs may be inadvertently preparing people to leave. “Those who want to leave, do leave. It’s not because they went to AUA or used Luys Foundation. People looking for opportunities to leave will find them,” Elliot, who also holds a master’s degree from AUA, responded. “I don’t like telling people not to leave. I think that’s very hypocritical.  On the other hand, find your way back. It’s a choice you make. Try to find a way to stay,” Elliot added.

“It’s mediocre education that sends people out. Armenia is a place for high-quality professionals,” Bardakjian, who holds two master’s degrees from AUA, said. For her the formula is simple: “Good opportunities plus good education equals stay” and an AUA education is part of that formula. Bardakjian, who says she knows about 200 AUA students, said that they have all stayed in Armenia. “They have awesome jobs. They don’t want to leave,” she said.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

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