If you’re looking forward to a story of another tourist who visited Armenia, ate, drank, had fun, and went back, then you’re in the wrong place.
This is about a guy named Sven Erik, who has no genetic connection to Armenia and is more Armenian than many Armenians.
Sven Erik Rise’s Armenian Name is Tigran Van
Norwegian Sven-Erik Rise is a private high school principal and a History teacher in Oslo.
When in Armenia, Sven decided to become Armenian by choice. The first step was picking an Armenian name.
So he came up with – Tigran Van, after meeting the first Armenian guy, a taxi driver named Tigran, the second one whom he met had the same name again, and he thought, this name sounds fantastic, why can’t he be Tigran too?
Even his school students in Norway call him Tigran when they want to get his attention. But the name is not enough without a proper Armenian surname.
So he thought of Van lake, that’s not in Armenia’s territory anymore, and also Vana Katu (Van’s cat), wishing them both back to Armenia, and here it comes- Tigran Van.
Why Sven Erik Rise loves Armenia?
Sven, or as he calls himself Tigran, read about Armenia for the first time when he was only 13. After watching the Turkish invasion of Cyprus on TV.
He got surprised by the barbaric act of the Turks. His father recommended the book “Forty Days of Musa Dagh” by Austrian-Jewish author Franz Werfel (which is based on the events at Musa Dagh in 1915 during the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire, the book played a role in organizing the Jewish resistance under Nazi rule).
He read the book many times through the years and got so amazed by the whole story that he felt heart-warming for Armenia, and as the country was in the Soviet Union then, Armenia was close to Norway.
The historical fact of the genocide was the first reason why he got engaged with Armenia – “I was especially surprised by the fact that Turkey denies Genocide, how is that possible?”. But he needed to find out more: the language, the people, the food, the wine that came as a bonus.
Sven even managed to change his Turkish friend’s mind about Armenia, with who he had a big fight on genocide before visiting Armenia. However, on April 24, to his surprise, the Turkish friend came to Armenia, got shocked, and toured with Sven in the country for 3 weeks.