After spending a few days in northern Armenia, the Young Professionals have now returned to Yerevan. Our group is not known for being on time. However, this morning everyone was standing in front of the hotel at 9:00AM. The reason? We were going to meet His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catolicos of all Armenians, in Echmiadzin.
Amy and I do not speak Armenian, and yet we were taught the sentence we had to use to address the Catolicos upon meeting him. We intensely rehearsed, hoping there would be no faux-pas. When our group entered the room, we felt very relieved, as we realized that His Holiness Karekin II felt comfortable around young people, and preferred not to use the protocol.
On our way back to Yerevan, we stopped by the memorial for those who had fought in the Karabagh war. For the first time, my friend Ara saw his cousin’s gravesite. His cousin had last been seen sixteen years earlier upon his departure for Armenia. A veteran led us through the cemetery. I could not understand what he was saying, since he spoke in Armenian. As a consequence, I decided to look him straight in the eyes and get the feeling of what he was trying to communicate through his look. This was a powerful experience. I did not need to understand his words to understand his emotions. Just by looking at one another, we knew we were talking - just in a different way.