BY ROUPEN GUEDIKIAN
From the sweet smell of “shawerma,” to the taxi drivers yelling in our native tongue, I knew that I was in Armenia, my homeland. I had longed to come to this land of my ancestors, ever since I was born. As I walked through the streets of Yerevan, I thought to myself, and I couldn’t believe that this was actually Armenia. All people are brothers here, they take care of one another.
For years and years, I had only read about all the churches in Armenia. This time around, I actually got to experience them. As I gazed upon the stunning architecture of “ Etchmiadzin,” it felt surreal for me, because I realized that I am standing in front of something that is truly remarkable. The pictures that I had seen in America had misled me. In reality, the church was not how it was portrayed in pictures. As we made our way through the winding streets, I wondered what I would think of the ancient Hellenistic temple, Garni. My parents were shocked when I said, “Wow this is Garni? I expected much more!”
Of course, after all the long hours of sightseeing, we had to do something that was actually fun. One bright, sunny day, I found fun at the Water World in Armenia. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine a Water World in “the land of sacred churches.” My friend and I felt a bit out of place, because we weren’t wearing “Speedos,” but we still managed to have fun. The water was as cold as Lake Seven in December, but the rush of the slides kept us warm.
On the last few days of our trip, we decided to make a 7 hour journey to Karabagh. We found ourselves at the Shushi Hotel, after a car- ride that seemed to never end. During the day, we introduced ourselves to the local kids, and played with them. They told us about their lives, and we told them about ours. As sad as it may be, these two lives were like comparing a life of a peasant to that of a king. It was interesting to find out that some of their parents actually fought in the war 15 years ago. Nevertheless these kids were tough as lions and had huge hearts, devoted to what was theirs. They had a sense of urgency, as if it was their responsibility to defend the land that they stood on that day. I felt a huge sense of pride when we bought all the kids ice-cream, because they did not have the luxury of having sweets everyday. I noticed how lucky I am when one of the kids asked me, “Do you have a television in your house?” I replied in a subtle tone, “Yes, I do.” He said that he had always wanted one, but could not afford it. I ended up giving him my shoes;
Overall, my trip to Armenia was great. I got to see all the landmarks and churches that I thought I would only read about. At the same time, I had so much fun, and I learned to be independent. I would recommend anyone to go there, because it is truly an amazing experience. Especially if you are Armenian, there is a whole world that you haven’t seen, if you haven’t been to Armenia. Hopefully, when I grow up, I can bring my family to Armenia, my homeland.
Roupen Guedikian is a sophomore at the Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian School in Encino, Calif.