Full Potential 

What home means to me — an Armenian woman living in diaspora

By Galy K.

Is home the country you currently live in? Is it where your parents are from? Is it where your ancestors are from?

Where do you feel most at home?

My name’s Galy. I’m Lebanese-Armenian and one of the women behind Full Potential. My great grandparents were from the lost lands of Cilicia and Western Armenia. Sepastia, Musa Ler, Yozgat, and Aintab. That’s all I have. An idea of the places I come from, an imagination. But are those places my “home”? The Armenian diaspora has been deprived of the opportunity to live in their homeland. All we have is a collective idea of what was. Our present identities are intertwined with our familial past. We have created an intergenerational identity through a legacy of genocide because we carry our ancestors’ memory of agony, suffering, and loss. The only indigenous home we have left is Armenia and Artsakh, both of which are currently under threat of ethnic cleansing by Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Where do you feel most at home?

    Our connection to Artsakh is far from just a piece of land. It is a current grievance evoked by the past grievance of genocide. There is a presence of intergenerational trauma within the Armenian people that has become the driving force of an ideology to prevent the repetition of history. Our historical experiences are formalized to link our spiritual belonging to Artsakh and Armenia.

It’s important to note that this is not a conflict based on pure ethnic hatred of the other.

    This conflict is cemented in racially formed generational narratives fueled by authoritarian Turkish and Azerbaijani governmental leaders who have maintained power by political and social repression. During the Armenian Genocide many Turks and Arabs stood as our allies. They helped our ancestors escape death, including my great grandfather. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for Haji Ahmed, Said Ali, Pasha bey, and the infamous “Pasha” from Sepastia. Incitement of racial hatred is constantly reinforced by the larger political agenda of the reunification of all Turkic peoples, known as Pan-Turkism.

Artsakh and Armenia are the anchors of our identity.

    They represent our belonging. The collective memory of the horrors of 1915 Armenian Genocide is becoming a reality, again, right in front of our eyes. Armenia and Artsakh keep the memory of our lost homes alive. They are the places that have accepted the Armenian diaspora with open arms for decades, irrespective of their constant battle for existence that is their reality.

Here I am now, spending my days detached from my reality outside of my home, just holding my breath while I read the names of the casualties of this war, hoping I don’t come across a name I know.