“If Turkey attacks Armenia today, no Armenian in the Diaspora will go to Armenia, will they? O.K., about 30 of them will, but is this how we value what we have today after all that ordeal?” These were the words that I uttered to an American-born senior Armenian couple that had visited Colorado’s State Capitol on Friday. They agreed.

The talks about repatriation and Armenia’s future have been circulating more thoroughly in my head in the last few weeks: during the Armenian National Committee Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. (Sep 15-17, 2006), the Armenian Independence celebration in Glendale (Sep 24, 2006) and the visit of the Armenian couple yesterday.

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The ANCA Leadership Conference was generally well organized. The best speaker was Charles Mahtesian, Editor of Almanacs of American Politics. We visited the Armenian Embassy in D.C., and although the Ambassador was in Armenia, we had a briefing by the staff. It was ironic to have these officials to answer a corruption-related question.

What happened in D.C. was a discussion with a young Armenian man born and raised in Glendale, California. He was adamant in arguing Armenia’s corrupt government should not be surprising. “What was this country’s [USA’s] situation 15 years after it was founded?” he asked. The young Armenian-American sounded convincing and I liked the way he talked about Armenia. He could have sounded nationalistic, but he had good points.

“O.K.,” I said. “I agree with almost everything you have said; now I want us to talk about solving the problem. Let’s say Armenia’s current sad situation is natural, but where shall we start the change at?” I was indeed genuine in my question, and so was he in the murmured answer, “We need to return.”

“Are you?” was my question. “I want to,” he said.

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As 99% of Americans, ANCA staff have spelled the word "Capitol" (referring to the building) with an a: "Capital." I work at Colorado State Capitol, and most people who work there think they work at the Capital. I am serious.

That “want to” answer was the source of the thoughts of flood that smashed my head for the days to come. “Want to.”

Why not “I will”? Why not “I have to”?

I was in California the following week, and went to Armenian Independence’s 15th anniversary celebration at a Glendale public park with my sweety. I was surrounded by thousands of Armenians, and pretty surprisingly, there were no fights, loud talking, shouting or “bad looks” (it is hard to explain what this means unless you have lived in Armenia and practiced-experienced the “mean look” young guys give to each other).
I will dare to say this was an utopian Armenian gathering and for this reason should be recorded in the Armenian history.

One thing should be recorded too. The kids, playing among themselves, would communicate in English. “Hayeren chgites?” (Don’t you know Armenian?) I asked one of them in a nice way. Of course he did and of course his future son would most likely not.

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Glendale: Armenian nardi, “vernisaj,” even a staged “traditional photo op” and more.

What I hated about the utopian Armenian gathering was the future of these people as Armenians. We have migrated all around the world, have estiblashed strong communities almost everythere and then lost everything. Romania, for example, had so much Armenian population in the middle ages; many cities were named by them. To mention one, Arjesh. This was a larger community than the one in Glendale today.
I guess an argument against the comparison could be the benefits that today’s technology offers: there are Armenian TVs in Glendale and they can watch TV programs from Armenia as well. But didn’t India’s Armenians have newspapers too? Weren’t Sinagapore’s Armenians the first ones to establish a Christian church in that country? Wasn’t there an Armenian region (yes, it was called Armenian region) in what is now Bangladesh?

Just a random thought. Just because we survived the Genocide, do we think that we can survive everything? If we do, we are too naive.

I hate sounding rhetoric. I don’t want to sound I am blaming anybody; I just want to understand how the Armenian mind works (this one hurts right now, so let’s leave it alone).

So many things have happened in the last few weeks that I would need hundreds of entries to talk about them. Sometimes I wish I had a laptop computer so that I could type my thoughts on the train and during other free times.

By the way, have you done your homework? Only 20 of you! I expected more from you guys. Maybe next time.

All pictures © Simon Maghakyan 2006