Shoghnan, 13, is walking in the corridor of School N1 named after Stepan Shahumyan. The girl, who moved to Armenia from Aleppo, has been attending this school for five years. She is happy; she smiles and is already fluent in Armenian. She is impatient to know whether any Syrian-Armenian children have been admitted to the school this year.
She then sits at the desk, with a look fixed at the ceiling, takes a deep breath and tells her own story.
“I was 8 when I moved to Armenia with my parents. We have lived in Armenia for five years. At that time the war in Syria wasn’t as hot as it is now. My family came to Armenia and didn’t go back. At that time we received news that the situation in Syria had worsened. Before coming here we saw how our relative was shot dead. I remember that once our school received a bomb threat call. Our parents took us home. Those were episodes from the war that wasn’t as hot as it is now. We thought that it would end in a month, but… I haven’t seen much but whatever I saw was enough for me to understand that war is not a good
Shoghnan then tells about Armenian schools and education centers in Aleppo.” I used to attend a school in Armenia where children paid for education. You had to pay for studies in all schools in Syria. Schools in Syria were in better condition than those in Armenia. All classrooms were filmed. Teachers were very strict and demanding but at the same time very friendly. There were few Arabs at school. The principal taught us not to make a difference between Armenians and Arabs. There I wasn’t so good at Arabic and the same is with Russian here. I’m not one of the best pupils because of my Russian, but I am taking a course to improve it. We also receive good education in Armenia. I think the only difference is the condition of classrooms. Everything was new, well kept and modern in Aleppo.”
Shoghnan wants to become a designer, but she is worried because the profession is not of great demand in Armenia. “Certainly, at the beginning it was hard for me and my family to get adapted to new life here but then everything settled down. When we arrived in Armenia I wanted to return to Syria. I still wish it. I study hard to become a designer but I don’t imagine my future in Armenia. Perhaps I shall go to some European country, improve my skills there, then return and work in Armenia. If something changes here and my profession becomes more demanded then I won’t leave the country,” she said.
The 13-year-old girl wishes all Armenians to live in their homeland so that we could be more united.
“Before the war in Syria, nobody thought about Armenia or about moving to Armenia. We still have our home in Syria that hasn’t been destroyed. All our relatives are in Syria. Here we feel lonely. Nevertheless, I feel safe and protected in Armenia. We experienced almost the same emotions during the April war. Now I want to return to Syria. My childhood, memories and everything are connected with Syria. I cannot forget all that. Now the whole Syria is ruined. There are few cities left that are not bombarded. Let all Armenians live in one place, let them come back to their homeland. Because of the war in Syria many Armenians moved to other countries and there is no unity in Syria anymore. My parents don’t want to go back to Aleppo but I will do it one day”.
After the interview she came out to the school corridor with a bright smile. She wanted to see her knew friends.