Because you can
REPATRIATION AND RETHINKING DIASPORA

Because you can

One of the major principle that Repat Armenia Foundation concentrates on, is the promotion of the concept of repatriation and providing an objective review of the real opportunities and perspectives of repatriation. The Foundation informs, initiates and actively champions the return of high-impact (professional, entrepreneurial) individuals and families to Armenia to secure the future development of the Armenian nation.

Text : Ani Smbati    Photo : Repat Armenia Foundation

 


According to the Executive Director of the Foundation, Vardan Marashlyan, Repat Armenia brings together hundreds of like-minded people with diverse backgrounds and life experiences, and provides potential repatriates and newcomers with a soft landing and networking support, by providing information and necessary resources to those who wish to engage with Armenia. “Since physically moving to Armenia is a responsible decision to make, we offer Armenians of the Diaspora a way of remotely contributing to the development of the country or the opportunity to visit on a short-term basis and to get involved with different programs and initiatives so that they have the time and the opportunity to understand the challenges they are going to face, as well as the benefits they will receive when they repatriate,” he says.
Repat Armenia suggests various options from which the diasporan Armenians can choose from and start the journey to their homeland, depending on their age, specialization, preferences and interests. One can choose to start from a general visit, exploring Yerevan (Impact Hub, TUMO, Cafesjian Center for the Arts, National Museum of History, Parajanov Museum, AYB School) and outside of Yerevan, whether being an adventure lover or a traveler who appreciates comfort.
Most of the young Armenians choose volunteering as the best way to explore their homeland, living here and getting to know the people. Repat Armenia collaborates with a number of related organizations, suggesting short-term (Armenian Volunteer Corps, AYF Internship in Armenia, Armenian Assembly of America, AGBU Yerevan Summer Internship, Habitat for Humanity, Land and Culture Organization Fuller Center of Housing) and long-term (Birthright Armenia, European Voluntary Service (EVS), Children of Armenia Fund (COAF), Mission Armenia) volunteering opportunities. Studying is another long-term opportunity for the youngsters to stay in Armenia, receiving education and the opportunity to learn more about their homeland. Repat Armenia provides information on the leading universities in Armenia, as well as international schools, high schools, colleges and lyceums.

Many diasporan Armenians, who have the will and the potential to take part in the development of Armenia but have no strong intentions to make the move or have the time to visit the country every now and then, have the chance to get engaged in Armenia through investing in large and influential initiatives and organizations, such as Doing Business in Armenia, National Competitiveness Report, Development Foundation of Armenia, IT Sector in Armenia, Ministry of Economic Development and Investment, Alliance Free Economic Zone and Meridian Free Economic Zone. “There’s a number of important organizations we collaborate with and encourage Armenians from the Diaspora to support. For example, in cooperation with the Arar Foundation and the Sahman NGO, and in coordination with the RA Ministry of Defense, the Repat Armenia Foundation started a fundraising effort in the wake of the Four Day War started by Azerbaijan on April 2, 2016. The collected funds are used to provide first aid to the soldiers and civilians wounded during the recent military actions, and will be used in the near future to provide financial assistance to the families of Armenian soldiers killed or wounded during further hostilities,” says Vardan Marashlyan.
In 2017, Repat Armenia worked with the Citizen Observer Initiative, aiming to engage and encourage more repatriates and diasporan Armenians to become observers during April’s parliamentary elections. “We hope that in the future many diasporans will prioritize their engagement in developing an effective, fair and transparent political environment,” says the Executive Director of the Foundation, “if we want a strong and fair democracy, if we wish to see Armenians consolidate their civil society, we need citizens participating in, trusting, and validating the democratic processes.”
It’s been three years since the RepatArmenia Foundation started to organize the annual Yerevan Half Marathon, held every October. According to Vardan Marashlyan, it’s one of the most colorful and festive events in the country. The race offers runners an exciting route passing by the most picturesque places in the heart of the city. The Yerevan Half Marathon has become an international event. October is believed to be the best month in Yerevan due to its attractive weather and appealing scenery. So this is another chance for diasporan Armenians to visit the city. Around 2000 people come to participate in the run every year, and more than 500 of them come from the Diaspora.

Repat Armenia Foundation offers personal stories of experiences from all aspects of moving and living in Armenia, as well as engaging with diaspora communities through regular forums to discuss opportunities to engage with Armenia, including repatriation. During these forums (titled “Imagine Armenia”), accomplished experts share their experiences, opportunities in Armenia, the reasons and the best ways to engage with Armenia. The goal of the event is to introduce Repat Armenia to Armenian communities around the world, with panelists from different businesses/organizations that share their experience of doing business in Armenia. Volunteer and professional opportunities are also introduced to the youth, as a way to work and gain experience while they contribute to Armenia’s development.
“We promote all the important social, educational and cultural initiatives that we are aware of,” says Vardan Marashlyan, “which can become a helpful way of getting engaged in Armenia. Among these initiatives I would also like to mention Teach for Armenia, OneArmenia, Street Workout Armenia and others, which have a great impact both on Armenia and the Diaspora. We make all the efforts so that every diasporan Armenian can find his or her own best way of engaging in Armenia. But the ultimate mission is, of course, to make their final repatriation happen.”