While I stay at home with my family, I’m focused on keeping us all healthy and safe. Since traveling is on hold right now, it felt like a good time to reflect on a trip Kim and her kids took with my kids and me last October. We were lucky enough to visit Armenia, and to do some really significant things in such a short time.
A big part of this trip was visiting the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, and getting our kids baptized there. It’s not only the first-ever church in Armenia, but is thought to be the first-ever cathedral in the world because Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity. It was such a powerful feeling being there. The story behind it is that St. Gregory The Illuminator received a message from God to build the first cathedral in that very spot, and so it’s remained ever since. It has such a solid framework that they’ve only recently begun restructuring it, which is so cool and crazy to me. Having the kids baptized there made us feel reverent and humble, and like the right way to help our kids honor their roots.
Armenia is making strides in developing technology and becoming known for that as a country. Kim was speaking at a huge tech conference called the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) in Yerevan, and we were there to support her.
They really want to show that women are capable and able to become successful, and seeing all the women there starting their own businesses was incredibly inspiring. Seeing women making things by hand—makeup, dolls, children’s books with illustrations and everything … it was just so motivating and almost made me emotional to see.
Because we were only there for three days, we were really jet lagged so it was hard for us to let the powerful feeling of our heritage wash over us. But I watched my kids as we drove around the city, and I could tell that they were really taking things in and soaking it up, quietly listening to stories about our family. They also loved the story about how Noah’s Ark had supposedly landed on the huge mountain in Armenia, Ararat. I think that was exciting for them and made them feel proud to be connected to the country in some way.
Showing them the Armenian Genocide Memorial was sobering, and I think it’s something they will remember for a long time. It seemed important to recognize this historical event with them—it’s something that we don’t talk or read about in the history books as much as we should, but it’s part of our ancestry.
One of the ways that Kim and I connected with that ancestry is getting some really simply designed, all black, traditional clothing and pairing it with traditional Armenian jewelry for a little photoshoot. We found a really beautiful, rustic backdrop on the outskirts of the city, and it really made us feel transported back to a certain time. It was deeper than playing dress up—it made us feel proud.
I was also really excited to eat real Armenian food. There was this restaurant in Yerevan called Lavash, and it was so good and so fresh, I went there three times. And remember, we were only there for three days. The food there just seemed to embody what comes to mind when I think of Armenian food. Not necessarily super spiced, but just super clean and pure.
Despite squeezing all of this important stuff into three days, my jet lag and exhaustion set in and I was feeling frustrated. While I was showing my kids all of this history, I wasn’t really sure of my place there. But after Eric Esrailian took us to the biggest Armenian charity, the Armenian General Benevolent Union, to learn about the women’s empowerment initiative, Kim and I got to meet the Armenian president.
We had dinner with him and his wife and son at a beautiful, official government home, and something just clicked. I just felt really connected to the culture and to who I am, far back in history— it made me understand my purpose and brought the whole trip together for me. Even though we did a lot in a short time, I definitely will be coming back with my family to experience more of this country. We still have a lot more history to explore.