“Documents filed (check). Enrolled (check). Yerevan. In the country of my dreams.” 18-year-old Eric Grigoryan wrote this emotional FB status after being accepted to a university in Yerevan. This post became a symbolic milestone in Eric’s journey of discovering his Armenian heritage.
Eric grew up in a loving and close-knit Armenian family in Tbilisi, Georgia. “Like many Armenian families in Georgia, we mostly spoke Russian at home,” tells Eric. “My parents and grandmother can speak Armenian, but cannot read or write,” he continues. When Eric was 12, he also tried to learn the Armenian language, but found it very difficult and gave up very soon.
Everything changed during his first visit to Armenia in 2015 as a participant of the Ari Tun Program by the Ministry of Diaspora. “My heart was pounding with excitement during that trip. Something inside me changed, and I realized that I had to learn my native language, the language that no one could ever take away from me,” he tells.
On that first trip to Armenia, Eric learned about the educational opportunities at the AGBU Armenian Virtual College and immediately decided to apply. “I want to learn the Armenian language because I am Armenian,” he wrote in his application.
Unlike his first attempt, studying at AVC was much more interesting and enjoyable. “It was easier for me to learn Armenian online at my own pace, at convenient time. In the 21st century, the Internet and computers are of great use. Online learning is interactive and more interesting than the traditional one,” Eric shares. He tried to make the most of the regular Skype sessions with his AVC teacher, participated in online social events and virtual tours, and joined in discussions with his virtual classmates.
In the following three years, Eric completed a full course (11 terms) of the Eastern Armenian language with excellent grades. “You have to love what you’re doing in order to succeed. No one should be persuaded to do what he doesn’t like,” Eric says convincingly. He learned that from his father. “When my Dad was a young boy, he dreamed of becoming a watch master. Now he’s one of the best masters in Tbilisi. He can repair any watch, whether old or new,” he tells.
Eric is also committed to achieving his goals. “My AVC teacher, Gohar Gevorkyan, told me that I was a very determined and goal-oriented person.” His hard work and dedication to his studies paid back. On his recent visit to the AVC office, Eric spoke fluent Armenian.
Eric actively participates in the life of the Armenian community in Tbilisi and encourages his friends not to forget their Armenian origins. “Some of my Armenian friends in Georgia consider it unnecessary to learn Armenian. I want to tell all the young people that we should always remember our history, our culture, and our language,” he says.
Eric’s biggest dream was to continue his studies in Armenia after graduating from the high school. This summer, he was accepted to the Russian-Armenian University in Yerevan and is now getting ready to start a new chapter of his life in the country of his dreams.
His educational plans will not stop there. The young man uses every opportunity to expand his knowledge of the Armenian language and plans to continue his Armenian studies with AVC in the future.
“AVC creates great opportunities for every Armenian to learn our language and culture. Now I can proudly say that I’m Armenian because I can read, write, and speak in my mother tongue,” Eric says.