of independent Armenia have no worries but only hopes for their future.|
When the juniors of secondary school No 83 are asked if they are happy
to live in an independent Armenia they confidently say "yes".
them when they are asked why. Some laugh and reply: "Because we live in an
For the 12-year-old students of this Yerevan school,
as for others, questions about independence sound rather rhetorical. The children
of independent Armenia know no other condition.
Unlike their parents, who
grew up on communist ideas, and their ancestors, who cherished the idea of a sovereign
country, this young generation of Armenians was born into independence and has
They grew up in the 1990s without heat, light, or proper medicines
in a country that was experiencing the full severity of blockade and economic
stagnation. Their parents were fighting off despair while coping with a food crisis
and cutting trees to heat their homes for a short while.
One day these kids
will thank their parents who went to the polling stations on September 21, 1991
and voted in a referendum for the right to live independently. But now they are
too young and enjoying their childhood too much to appreciate this moment of history.
grader Marianna Babayan says she likes to listen to stories about the early years
of independence. She was born in October 2, 1991 and tales of dark and cold days
sound for her like Gothic fairy tales.
"Recently the electricity in
our building was cut off for almost two days. And the water pump did not work
without electricity. It was horrible." Marianna says.
Despite all the difficulties that Marianna and Taron had experienced in the first
years of independence, they are too young to remember them.
"There was no light, no water. We ate sandwiches and I did my
homework by candlelight. I missed several TV programs, which I usually watch;
I could not use the computer. It was so oppressive. I can't understand how people
lived in such conditions for several years."
School No 83 where Marianna
studies experiences difficulties that are typical of the transition period.
Russian language school, which was considered among the best in Yerevan, turned
sharply into Armenian after independence. According to the restrictive "Law
on Language" adopted by the newly elected parliament, no foreign language
schools were allowed to continue in the country. Teachers were forced to give
up their jobs because of this linguistic short-sightedness.
left the country to make their living, others started businesses in a period when
citizens of independent Armenia citizens were doing all they could to survive.
Manvel Papoyan, the school's director, said the building was in devastating
condition when he arrived in 1993. The water pipes, the furniture, everything
was broken, while the Government could not cover even minimal expenses.
situation changed when he found a benefactor. The family of the first Mayor of
Yerevan, Hambartdzum Galstyan, a member of the Karabagh Committee who was killed
in Yerevan in 1994, supported the school. The building was renovated, new furniture
was bought and even a small historic museum was opened at the school.
students find entertainment even while studying.|
says that despite his former education and years of living under the Soviet system
he is open to new ideas and likes to see features of this "newness"
in young people's behavior. .
He is pleased that they have a chance to
study in their native language and learn about national heroes rather than focus
their attention on stories about prominent totalitarian leaders of the last century.
"These juniors are smart and curious. May be they are not as disciplined
as we were, but most of them realize that their future deeply depends on how they
are educated." Papoyan says.
Student Taron Sargsyan's family returned
to Armenia from Kazan, Russia last year, after living there for four years. Taron
says although he misses his Russian friends sometimes, he is happy to be back
"Life in Russia was more interesting than here, but it
was not safe. It was dangerous to leave home after 10 pm. It is different here
and I like Armenia more than any other country," Taron says.
of the school have spent several years abroad, living for a time in countries
where their parents found work. Others came from abroad to live in Armenia, which
although now 12 years old still has a long way to go until many people feel th
tangible "fruits" of its independence.
When the young students
are asked if they know when Armenia became independent many reply that "it
was a long time ago, I was not yet born."
And, like all young people,
they have no worries but only hopes for the future.