2013 “Ari Tun” Program: “Everyone here seems so familiar”

Bedros Tovmasian, 19, is the only Istanbul-Armenian who participated in the first stage of the “Ari Tun” Program. The former student of the Central School in Istanbul is continuing his studies in translation at the university and dreams of becoming a good translator.

Bedros says his mother advised him to participate in the “Ari Tun” Program.

“My mother told me about the “Ari Tun” Program, and since I really wanted to come to Armenia, I immediately agreed.

This is my first time in Armenia. Everything is great. We’re a little afraid in Istanbul, but here we feel fee. There are Armenians everywhere, everyone speaks Armenian, and that’s also great.

It’s a little hard in Istanbul. We only communicate with the Armenians at school and the church on Sundays.

True, Istanbul is our home and we feel great, but when you go out to the street and tell the Turks that you’re Armenian, they’ll start looking at you differently. In Armenia everyone is familiar to me, even if I don’t know them.

We have been sightseeing for several days now. I loved Etchmiadzin. We visited the ethnography museum at Sardarapat and saw how the Armenians lived in the past. It was very interesting.

Khor Virap is a very important place for us. Saint Gregory the Illuminator fought for our faith. It’s amazing how he was able to stay alive in the dungeon for such a long time. I had read about him a little, but now I have a better picture after seeing it with my own eyes.”

Bedros was mainly touring alone, and when I asked him about that, he said even though he had met many Armenian youth, it was hard for him to communicate with him since they either spoke Eastern Armenian or Russian.

“Most of the youth don’t understand my dialect either. Despite all that, everything is great. It’s interesting to see how children born and raised in different countries and with different cultures come together.”

When asked about new friends and acquaintances, Bedros mentioned that he has Turk friends too.

“True, my friends are mainly Armenian, but I have Turk friends as well. Not all Turks are bad. There are also nice Turks who are our friends and recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

In the end, the young Istanbul-Armenian talked about his desire.

“I have a family and a house in Turkey, my sister studies at the Translators’ School and it’s hard to be away from each other. But I would really like for all Armenians to return to their birthplace and live together.”

Lusine Abrahamyan