Thoughts on emigration

I just posted an article about my take on emigration from Armenia on my other blog, Footprints, sponsored by Hetq Online. Please read it when you have a chance and let me know what you think in the comments section.


Anonymous said…
"Moreover, Armenians have had the privilege of living in a democracy for twenty years, enjoying the freedoms of casting a ballot, thought, expression, and enterprise, all of which are taken for granted." What an about face from the Christian Garbis of late who was venting about the lack of democracy, freedom of expression, enterprise...What's up CG??
CG is trying to make the point that Armenians should -- rather than leave what they've essentially voted for, namely self-rule and freedom from the Soviet Union to grow and develop as a unified nationstate -- be grateful for the freedoms they have and make use of them for their own benefit instead of letting a handful of oligarchic families take advantage, that don't have the people's interests in mind. Leaving is the easy way out. Building a democratic state where free enterprise works must be a demanding, yet united effort. All Armenian citizens have to do is make those privileges work for them.
Ankakh_Hayastan said…
Maybe the solution is Iron Wall 2 -- barbed wire around the country. The positive impact will be two-fold. It will keep dangerous ideas like freedom and democracy out, and will keep the people still in the country locked in.
Hey Ankakh,

How about we pretend there is no problem at all and let the country depopulate? Who cares about the continuing brain drain? Who cares if there's an unofficial estimate of 2 million living here today? How about we let the oligarchic families and their underlings continue to rape the country? What social inequality? What environmental damage? Let things just keep going the way they are, wherever they may lead. After all, Armenia is free and independent, right? As your nickname so cleverly suggests. The Iron Wall 2 thing is a great idea. No, really, it is. I am serious. Really.

Is that enough sarcasm for you?
Anonymous said…
Your Footprints blog does not allow for comments. Should get in touch with Hetq...Anyway, I wanted to send this comment for the Mashtots Park article there.

Where are all the thousands that once filled Opera Square? People in Armenia are just plain LAZY!50 or so protestors won't make a dent. 500 would have...maybe. Where are the young people that everyone points to as heralding a brighter future for Armenia? It's really a drag and doesn't offer much hope for even gradual change, ;let alone drastic reform. I talk with so-called oppositionists and they have the nerve to tell me they have done all they could within the past four years since the 2008 crackdown. They mention meetings, meetings and more meetings. I tell them to please read up about civic disobedience, community organizing, Saul Alinksy, Gandhi, the civil rights movement...It all falls on deaf ears.
Can you try leaving a comment on Footprints again, please? Thanks.
Anonymous said…
Christian Garbis,

You bring up such valid points on the situation in Armenia. What advice would you give to someone who wants to move to Armenia? I've read and heard about the problems that you talk about. People who have recently moved out swear that Armenia is not a livable place. It is such a shame that the teeter totter never seems to get off the side of the "connected". It seems as though if you have the money, you might be able to move to Armenia and make a living, if no one bothers you? Is that correct? What if you don't have the money, and want to move to Armenia to give back to the country.

I would really like to hear what your thoughts are about an individual who wants to move from LA to Yerevan.
Hi there, Anon,

I would first of all evaluate how much you need to make to earn a living here. Being debt free is obviously the way to go. The monthly stipend/salary you need to live on will depend on whether you are coming here solo or with family, how much you can afford for an apartment rental, and so forth -- all of those things are easily solved, anyway for the most part I think. If you have a strong professional background you can find a decent paying job with some organization or company.

The main problem now is having to deal with chauvinistic or sour personalities and bad attitudes, like I've written about. Things have changed a lot here since I first moved here in 2002. People seem to be a lot more pessimistic/cynical and even more irresponsible than I remember them being 10 years ago, and that can be a major drag. That doesn't of course mean everyone is that way, but it's annoying having to hear "Yerkire yerkir chi" several times a week (or day!).

Basically if you want to give back to your country and you are certain, even obsessed with moving to Armenia, as I was, do it. There's lots of red tape involved in getting things done here, from paying taxes to having your car or business registered (although the process for setting up a business has supposedly simplified). Then again, the homegrown foods here are delicious, the countryside is breathtaking, and the honest, hardworking people you will undoubtedly meet will be your life-long friends.

I suggest living either outside Yerevan but close to the city, like Ashtarak or the nearby villages. Or if you must be in the city, consider one of the outer districts of Yerevan, such as Nor Nork (Masiv), Nork, or an area known as "Raikom," which is north of the city center, on the border of the Arabkir and Kanaker/Zeitun districts. In those areas the air is much much cleaner and you're away from the smog. Buy a Russian car, like a Niva, since they're rather economical and so cheap to fix or else buy an old Mercedes or Opel, which seem to be a dime a dozen nowadays.

Anyway, forget all that. FIrst, what is your goal? Why exactly do you want to move to Armenia, and what are your expectations for meeting those goals? That is what you need to think long and hard about. Have you stayed here for an extended period before? Maybe you should come for a month and try it out. Armenia is not for everyone, but it is indeed a wonderful place to live and certainly is a country. Convincing Armenian citizens of that fact will be the most difficult challenge you could ever face here.

If you have more specific questions, please free to ask.

Anonymous said…
Christan Garbis,

Cold hard facts, but I've been researching about the move for quite some time. I've heard personal stories from people who have lived there all their lives, I've talked to repats, now it's time for me to make the move.

I've looked on your blog for an email address but I couldn't find one. I'm really interested in emailing you about the matter. I don't know if you can see my email behind the comments, but if you do, please email me or provide me with your email. Thanks

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