There are countless inspiring stories of diasporans moving to Armenia — my brother Garen being one of them — but not many can say they dropped out of high school and moved here at 17. That’s exactly what 21-year-old Lilit Markosian did back in 2012. I met Lilit not too long ago through a mutual friend, and since both of us are originally from the Bay Area and writers, we started chatting about Armenia and what it means to us. As I got to know Lilit more, her unique story blew me away — it’s one thing to move to Armenia in your 30s, but to recognize its impact as a teenager is another — and it also turns out that we both live in Komitas, a block apart!
Lilit’s parents (a mathematician and physicist who once worked as computer engineers in the states) are originally from Armenia. Though Lilit was born in America and went to high school in Cupertino, she never felt that she fully fit in. She had been visiting Armenia in the summers to get ballet training and to see her grandparents, but before her senior year, Lilit made a major stand, deciding to leave high school to move to Armenia all by herself. Even though her parents were worried, in the end they were supportive of their daughter’s fearless plan. And what a plan she had: Lilit told me that she was so convincing and detailed in her presentation to her parents, they simply couldn’t say no.
Upon arriving to Yerevan, Lilit enrolled in school, but eventually left and started working at the Armenian Environmental Network. Protesting during the day, cultivating her love of painting, and making local friends within creative circles — one can see why Lilit was so attracted to such a thrilling life, especially as a teenager. But for a brief time in 2013, she moved back to San Francisco and enrolled at USF (another weird coincidence since that’s where I went, too) as a politics major. After completing her first year, Armenia’s pull proved far too strong, as it does for many diasporans, and she returned the day after finishing her finals. Lilit’s logic: why study politics in America when she was living politics in Armenia? The cherry on top of her amazing journey is that she inspired her parents to move back to Armenia in 2014. They both left successful jobs in the Silicon Valley and are soon launching a beauty company, Nairian, that creates all-organic, eco-friendly products, all made in Armenia. Aprek!