Notes From Hairenik
April 6, 2007
I just recently wrote an article about apathy amongst youth in Armenia regarding politics for The Armenian Weekly newspaper, which is printed in the Boston area and distributed in North America. It is the companion to Hairenik, the oldest continually printed Armenian-language newspaper in the world, in print since 1899. The Weekly's current editor, Khatchig Mouradian, hails from Aztag, one of the most reputable Armenian newspapers, based in Beirut.

Here's an excerpt:

“I think that kids aren’t interested in politics in general,” says Hamlet Gevorkyan, 31, who was raised in Abovyan before relocating with his family to the Los Angeles area in the late 1980s. Mr. Gevorkyan returned to Armenia in 2005 and is studying to earn a degree in dentistry. He also teaches courses to foreign students at the university level.

“Most of the kids that I talked to are thinking of getting out of this country as soon as they find an opportunity,” Mr. Gevorkyan adds. “This can be viewed as a good excuse for kids to not care about politics in general.”

Indeed, the trend of people in their twenties is to leave, mostly because of the common belief that “Armenia is not a country” or that “there’s nothing here” to keep them. This mentality usually has nothing to do with the availability of opportunities that may await a person in a specific field of interest. Even if someone does have a well-paying job, for instance as a software programmer, leaving the country is nearly always considered a better option.

Mr. Gevorkyan notes this general trend of careless abandon each day. “I think that the young generation doesn’t have big expectations. They are pretty happy with their daily routine: going to universities where they spend more time catering to their appearance—how they look and what they wear—rather than worrying about their education,” he states.

However, this is not entirely the case. Although they are a minority, some youth are clearly trying to become involved in civil society and build the democratic process. And they are trying to get the message out to those who are for the most part unaware.

“Recently a friend asked me what democracy is, not that she wanted me to give the factors of what democracy should involve, but she didn’t know the term, and she’s a 21-year-old girl,” confesses Zara Gevorgyan, a university student studying linguistics and the coordinator of the Erebuni community youth branch of It’s Your Choice (IYC), a non-governmental organization that monitors elections throughout Armenia. She is also a member of its board of directors. IYC is gearing up for the National Assembly elections to be held on May 12.

You can read the article in its entirety here.

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