The cliché must be true… my travels truly have changed me and Armenia will always be a part of my life. At the same time I think I left a chunk of myself there, too. Not only in the sense that my sleeping patterns are still stuck in Yerevan time, but I don’t think I could feel complete without returning again.
I finally see what the Diaspora has been fighting for. Armenians love their land and they are a crucial part of it. Through the wars and genocide, they have fought for the right to remain Armenian while holding onto the values of hard work and family. Farmers climb uphill for four hours to find fresh grass for their cows. Suddenly the nine to five job doesn’t seem so bad. And they still manage to take a stroll with their neighbors every night. We have a hard time balancing work with our social lives in America. If nothing else, I’ve learned to take time out of my day for family and friends.
Armenians are also some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever encountered. They are willing to spend their last penny on a dinner guest, no matter who is the wealthier in the situation. We could use a little of that generosity here. It brings a feeling of unity to the nation, especially with the struggles of the last century.
After a few tearful goodbyes, I realized that nine former strangers are going through the same feelings. We all felt that warmth and empathy for the people and their land. I guess that’s why it’s a cliché. They work so hard for what they have and value the things that really matter in life. If it wasn’t clear to me before, the saying “money doesn’t buy happiness” now makes sense. It’s almost impossible to leave Armenia without feeling like you belong to a culture that welcomes you into their lives with open arms.