People of Ryde presents Anne Gharibian
Published on 21 June 2020
My name is Anne Gharibian and I am a first-generation Syrian born Armenian who migrated to Australia at the age of nine. I arrived in Sydney with no ability to speak, read or write English, like a lot of my community members who face the same adversity today. The district of Ryde is currently home to many first-generation Armenian’s migrating from Syria.
I, like a lot of Armenians who currently live in Ryde, have felt that life in Ryde allowed us to integrate and re-establish ourselves by providing us with a sense of belonging, which made resettlement easier. Living in Ryde has a lot of similarities to what Armenians are used to in the Middle East. For example:
- The Ryde community has an open-door approach, which allows the re-settlers the ability to go and ask their neighbours for a bowl of sugar
- The Ryde community is free spirited and seems to like to go out for a stroll in the evenings, especially in summer.
From the perspective of an Australian citizen this may seem insignificant, however, for re-settlers these attributes allow us to resettle and resettle well.
The Armenian and the Australian connection, I think, was sealed more than 105 years earlier, as the ANZACs were being killed in Gallipoli so were the Armenians being massacred in the hundreds and thousands. The Armenian Genocide commenced in 1914 through till 1923, and more than 1.5 million Armenians were killed or expelled from regions of the Ottoman Empire.
Armenians over the last 105 years have become accustomed to resettling all over the globe. Armenians have always been an enterprising culture. It seems we can easily resettle and also start contributing towards that community in a positive way. Armenians are grateful to Australia and other countries that have opened their hearts and homes to us. This is no exception when we look at Ryde and the community of Armenians who have been living in Ryde and calling Ryde home.
Like Australia who supported the Armenian People during the Genocide, so too did countries in the Middle East, such as Syria. Yet due to the war now in Syria, Armenians have again needed to leave the homes we had established and again were required to resettle—many have resettled in Ryde.
It’s important to say that the demand to resettle in Australia is a privilege and one that is not easily obtained. I was one of the lucky few that migrated to Australia as a permanent resident back in 1983 because my family picked Australia as our new home, when restrictions weren’t as strict. Today, there are so many Armenians who wish to migrate and live in Australia and yet will never be able to owing to the strict migration guidelines.
The decision by my family to move to Australia has led me to achieve a Masters level education in my field of expertise and now owing to this privilege I can pay it forward. This privilege has allowed me to work on a volunteer basis and support new migrants in resettling in Australia, predominantly Ryde. Through the organisation the Armenian Resource Centre of Australia, I support all newcomers as they re-establish their work, home and businesses in the area with the intent to have a positive contribution to the greater Ryde region.
It is important to recognise and appreciate what Ryde and Australia has offered us and not lose sight of the person I am today because of my parents’ choices and their decision to relocate and resettle in Australia.
In my opinion “home is where the heart is” and Ryde has heart. Ryde provides community, support, infrastructure and a long-standing extremely rich history, which allows people to integrate easily. It is this uniqueness that makes Ryde a special place for many people who live here and are changed by it. People who may not be able to live here, wish that they could be a part of its culture. What makes Ryde valuable is the melting pot that Ryde is and will continue to be for many more new generations of Australian Armenians for decades to come.
Written by Anne Gharibian