Sosy Tatarian was one of the participants in the 9th Pan-Homenetmen games, which brought together more than 600 athletes from around the world. The games concluded on 03 August 2013 in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Athletes from 17 countries competed in one week in football, basketball, volleyball, ping-pong, track and field, swimming, chess and tennis.
Homenetmen (Armenian General Union of Body Culture) is a pan-Armenian diaspora organization devoted to sport and Scouting (See Wikipedia article about Homenetmen).
Meri Martirosyan interviewed Sosy to know more about her and the experience she recently gained in Armenia.
-Where have you been born? What can you tell us about your parents?
I was born on December 25, 1988 in the United States of America. I grew up in the state of Maryland. Both my parents are Armenians, born in Aleppo, Syria. My mother moved to Montreal, Canada with her family when she was about 13 years old. My father moved to the United States by himself at the young age of 18.
-Where did you graduate from?
I received my Bachelor's of Science in Physiology and Neurobiology in 2010, at the University of Maryland, College Park.
-How did you decide to participate in the Pan-Homenetmen games?
I have been a member of the Homenetmen organization for about 20 years. I have been playing volleyball for Homenetmen for about 10 years. In order to play in the Homenetmen World Games, I had to not only be a Homenetmen member in “good standing,” but I had to try out for the team and be chosen to play.
-In what game category you participated and what did you achieve?
I played on the Eastern USA Women's Volleyball Team. We got 2nd place.
-What did you like and dislike in Armenia?
This was my first time visiting Armenia. I have been dreaming of going to Armenia my entire life and I can honestly say that I loved everything about it. I loved how everything was written in Armenian and how everyone spoke Armenian. It's very different growing up and living in the United States. In the United States, you are constantly surrounded by other cultures and nationalities. Where I live, it is pretty rare to walk down the street and hear another person speak Armenian. It was very refreshing to finally be around my own people. I felt like I was finally home. Although I loved Armenia, it was very difficult to see the living conditions outside of Yerevan. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to visit about 9 different villages, a few of which I spent 3-4 days at. It is obvious that there is a lot of work that needs to be done. For example, improving the road conditions, rebuilding the infrastructures of homes and schools, improving water accessibility and providing better health care. I feel as though a lot of the areas outside of Yerevan are being neglected. It is very important, for the sake of our country and our people, that we do something to fix this. I really hope that the government is making a special effort to better these areas and conditions.
-How many days you spent in Armenia and what is the overall impression that you had?
I was in Armenia for about 10 weeks (June 4th-August 12th). In addition to playing in the Homenetmen World Games, I participated in the “Armenian Youth Federation Internship in Armenia” and “Birthright Armenia” (Tepi Hayk). In addition to seeing all the tourist attractions that Armenia has to offer, I volunteered 30 hours a week at the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF). I have loved every minute I have spent in Armenia. I was very sad to leave and am very eager to return.
-Which food items you tasted in Armenia and which you liked most?
I liked all of the food I ate in Armenia, but there are a few things that I am going to miss the most: Khachapuri with cheese, crepe nutella with banana (there is a woman that has a crepe stand on Tumanyan ? I'm going to miss her!), and the fruit – especially the apricots. I'm so glad I was here for apricot season. They were absolutely delicious. The fruit is not as sweet or delicious in America.
-What you will be missing most in Armenia?
I think what I am going to miss most about Armenia is the carefree atmosphere. I loved walking around Yerevan on a weeknight, around 10pm, and seeing all the people watching the fountain show on Hrabarag (main square), or seeing all the families walking around with their children on Hyususain (Northern Avenue). You don't see that in America. Everyone is either working or resting to go to work the next day. Where I'm from, everyone is constantly stressed, even during the summer. You don't see people enjoying time with their families or walking aimlessly and enjoying each others company. It was a really nice change – something I could definitely get used to.
-What would be your profession in the future?
I have hopes of either becoming of a physician or working in the field of public health. Regardless of what I do, I hope to do some sort of international work.
-How do you usually spend your free time?
In my free time I like to play volleyball and spend time with my friends and family. I am also very involved in the Armenian community of Washington DC. I am a very active member of Armenian Youth Federation, the Youth Organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, and of Homenetmen.
-How do you preserve Armenian language and traditions in you family?
Armenian is the only language that is spoken at home. My parents have made a real effort to keep my sister and I in touch with our Armenian roots. I attended Armenian Sunday School for 11 years, where I learned how to read, write and speak Armenian. I also learned about Armenian history and religion. I was involved in Homenetmen Scouts in addition to Armenian dance, music, and theatre groups. I am currently involved in the local Armenian Youth Federation. My mother cooks traditional Armenian food (dolma is my favorite) and we listen and dance to traditional and contemporary Armenian music. We are very proud to be Armenian.
-How about revisiting Armenia?
This was my first time visiting Armenia, but it definitely won't be my last!
Upper left photo: Sosy Tatarian at Khndzoresk in South Armenia (Province of Syunik)