I didn’t come to the United States because I wanted to. I came because my husband Souren came. We didn’t know what life would be like here. People who came here never talked about the difficult things. Complaining is not in the Armenian character. Maybe they were ashamed. I thought maybe I would come here for one year to be with him and then go back. I couldn’t imagine myself without Armenia.

Published by Constitutional Rights Foundation

I was a city girl from Erevan. I had such a wonderful life in Armenia. I loved everything—my city, my library, my music, my piano, my parents, my work, my home, my friends.

When Souren arrived in the United States, he moved in with his cousin, and then shortly before I came, he rented an apartment for us. His friends all helped him fix it up. They brought everything he needed: sofa, television, vacuum, bedding, blankets, pots, and pans. It was such a nice and cozy apartment; I was shocked when I saw it. That is how we do things. Armenian people always think about each other. We help each other. We need each other. This is how we have survived.

My first impression of the United States was two huge metallic rivers running opposite each other. These were the freeways. Another memory is a street of one-story houses side by side with their lonely, naked palm trees under the burning sun. No shade. When we imagined the United States, we thought about busy, noisy streets with skyscrapers. But the street where I lived looked like the countryside. I was used to the city. This impression stayed with me until Souren showed me the downtown area with modern architecture, sculptures, fountains, and, of course, traffic. I wanted to enjoy each part of the city. But it was shocking to see rich areas of the city so close to other parts built out of ragged boxes, with people living in unbearable conditions. The contrast between wealth and poverty was abnormal.

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