A recent youth forum on Armenia-Diaspora issues brought me to The Armenian Center for National and International Studies. Led by Director Richard Giragosian, the event featured presentations about Armenian communities everywhere from Turkey to Canada. I found it fascinating. They touched on issues like migration, trafficking, prejudice and cultural pride, and how to bridge boundaries between Armenia and the Diaspora. Since I arrived in Armenia, I’ve been completely mesmerized by the Armenian community and the ties that bind it despite separation by continents and oceans. Its members grow up in communities as diverse as Beirut and Sydney, yet they are inextricably linked. Sometimes from an outsider’s view there seems to be few gaps to have to bridge. But again, I’m new to this world and still learning about it. This forum touched on such divisions. For instance, Turkey’s denial of the genocide unites many in the Diaspora in a common quest for justice. But in some ways, as Richard pointed out, it can also be the barrier that blocks Diasporans from learning more about the issues that confront Armenians and Armenia today — issues like human rights, economic disparity and corruption. He posed important questions. What happens when these issues are solved? What will unite Armenia with the Diaspora? There must be more ways to bring the Armenian people, the Armenian government and the Diaspora closer together to strengthen the nation. Cultural exchanges, volunteer and work abroad opportunities are a part of this, as are the youth forums that will be held in the months to come at ACNIS — forums on civic and political action, national security and the anniversary of the Turkish-Armenian protocols, to name a few. All are steps in the right direction, he said. I couldn’t agree more.
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