Working with our partner organizations Armenian Volunteer Corps and Repat Armenia, we have launched a brand new series of Clubhouse discussions to address the most common concerns diaspora Armenians have before coming to Armenia, triggering hot debates, and giving a floor to all those who are looking for a platform to raise their voice. After months of research, brainstorming and discussions, we have finally developed an initial list of topics ranging from employment opportunities, stereotypes, lifestyle and safety in Armenia.
Our first talk uncovered the challenges and opportunities in the local employment market. We invited speakers with diverse backgrounds to gather multiple perspectives on the topic raised. Among them were heads of three local organizations that interact with diaspora Armenians and non-Armenians located in Armenia the most—Sevan Kabakian from Birthright Armenia, Tania J. Chichmanian from Armenian Volunteer Corps, as well as Vartan Marashlyan from Repat Armenia. The three of them being repatriates themselves and having more than a decade-long experience in this field, shared their experiences and assessed the current trends of the local market. “The more relevant challenge is the challenge is the challenge of people’s minds to give an attempt to look at Armenia as a place, where they would restart a career,” mentioned Sevan, who himself came to Armenia from the US and guided many Birthright alumni to start careers anew in their homeland.
Representatives of two prominent local organizations also joined us for meaningful contributions. Dr. Lara Tcholakian, HR Head at Viva MTS was here to share her experience from two angles—first, as a repatriate who returned to Armenia and second, as an HR head of a leading large organization, which conducts recruitments on a regular basis. Dr. Lara was, therefore, able to answer recruitment-related questions. On the other hand, David Manoukian, the Communications Manager at Children on Armenia Fund (COAF), joined to share his experience working with repatriates and non-Armenians as a local. COAF is one of our long-standing partners, where more than 100 of our program participants have volunteered. Last but not least, our current volunteer Blue Kalamian shared his experience in Armenia. After working with organizations based in the US and China, Blue’s experience as a videographer is quite different in Armenia. Listen to the full podcast on SoundCloud for a fuller insight.
And the second topic? Of course safety! We noted the relevance of this topic because many of our program participants expressed high concern about it. This time, our aim was to create a platform where those interested in this topic would be able to express all their concerns, ask questions to those who have already lived the same experience and found a compromise.
For this purpose, the list of our participants has changed this time, and we invited people who had experiences to share and specific examples to give to those interested. Repatriated from Lebanon, Araz Sahakian, a Birthright alumna from 2018, is currently living in Armenia after finishing her volunteering with us. She has been here for the last three years and witnessed the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic and the Artsakh war. Our second speaker, Astrig Akopian is also an alumna, who arrived from France to volunteer this year. Astrig is a journalist, and her main aim was to see, experience and live through what her motherland was going through herself and provide media coverage about it.
Additionally, we had Mary Galstyan, a current Birthright Armenia volunteer and a student of Harvard Law School, who had the same concerns as many diaspora Armenians wondering how safe it is to travel to Armenia now. Last but not least, Vartan Marashlyan from Repat Armenia was present to share the stories of repatriates currently in Armenia showing how they conquered their fears, what concerns they had and what helped them the most in these times.
Besides the topic concerned, the discussants also touched upon the growing trend of the willingness to repatriate among the diaspora mid, post-war and COVID-19 pandemic. They had a chance to participate in a role-playing game on how to convince a young diaspora Armenian with education and experience to repatriate.
What are Our Next Clubhouse Topics?
· Locals & Diaspora: Breaking the Stereotypes /Tuesday, July 13, 10 pm ARM time/
· “ArevMtavElavHyeren:” Mixing Eastern & Western Armenian Is NOT an Obstacle in Armenia /Tuesday, July 27, 10 pm ARM time/
· Hospitality in Armenia: How Much Is Too Much? /Tuesday, August 10, 10 pm ARM time/
How to join?
First, download Clubhouse from the App Store or Google Play and create an account. Remember that as of now, you can only join Clubhouse with an invite; so, screen your contact list to see who can send you an invite (if they have not done so yet). If you don’t have anyone, we got you covered! Feel free to reach out to us via social media or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We host our discussions on ARMENIANS club, that’s why don’t forget to find and join/follow the club. Save the date and join us (you will also receive a reminder on Clubhouse). We can’t wait to hear your insights too!