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BARBARA DRUMMOND: Shelly Drummond with Irma Petrosyan and Yanosh Sal..


DRUMMOND: Um, and they are Christian Armenian. From Azerbaijan, right? 



PETROSYAN: (laughs) Yes.


DRUMMOND: Okay, and um, we had talked about the release and this is for the Immigrants of Bowling Green Oral History Project. And um, it's August twenty seventh...


DRUMMOND: So we talked a little bit about you had um, some notes that you wanted to...

PETROSYAN: No, just to answer your questions.

DRUMMOND: Okay, alright. Well um, tell me a little bit about Baku.

PETROSYAN: Um, so to start with--that's why I asked--to start with. Me and all members of my family were born in Azerbaijan. So, Azerbaijan is the southern part of former U.S.S.R. and Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan. And uh, Baku is 1:00situated on the shore of the Caspian Sea and um, it's a very beautiful city. And I especially like the oldest part of the city because of it's ancient architecture. So, and I really, really miss that place. So... (laughs)

DRUMMOND: Yeah. Um, so um, what is it about it that you miss the most? Like um...

PETROSYAN: First of all I, first of all I know that there is no way to go back and uh, so...Then, I left my friends there, and I grew up in Azerbaijan and uh, I mean, I can say that I knew almost every stone in that city, so...And it doesn't matter where I live now or what's going to happen later that city and all the uh, memories I have will be always with me. So that's why I miss. 2:00Because it's the place of my childhood.

DRUMMOND: And you said that you had left there at one point...Is this when you before you were married?


DRUMMOND: You moved to Russia after the war?


SALAI: Before, maybe.

PETROSYAN: We moved to Russia because of the international war in Azerbaijan. And before all this happened, I want to mention that Baku was an international city and people of different nationalities used to live there. And we had no problems until all this started. So, uh...Do you want me to tell what happened and what was the reason?

DRUMMOND: Yeah, yeah.


DRUMMOND: If you want.

PETROSYAN: Yeah! Uh, it was hard the other day but I can make it today, it seems 3:00to me. Uh the, as I said the--In 1985 when Gorbachev came to the power uh, everything had changed in the former U.S.S.R. And it affected Baku as well. So, and the international war started. Actually, before all that stuff, we got married in 1997 and just in three months...

SALAI: Nineteen eighty seven.

PETROSYAN: Nineteen ninety seven.

SALAI: Eighty seven.

PETROSYAN: Nineteen eighty seven, I'm sorry. You're right. We heard in February the 28th, we heard about the slaughter in Sumgait. Armenian slaughter that was taking place in Sumgait. Again, it's hard and tears are choking me, but it's really hard to remember all that was going on there because nobody could believe 4:00that that could happen. As I said, people of different nationalities lived together and we did not know who was an Armenian, who was Russian, who was Azerbaijan. So, but unfortunately it was fact and uh...So, at the beginning we thought that everything will work out and everything will go back to normal, but unfortunately the events grew and grew. And uh, finally there was no way for us to stay there and we actually were forced to leave the country. And that was the reason that we moved to Russia. Uh, when we moved to Russia it was also hard for us because we just did not know how secure and safety would be in Russia. Uh, 5:00and we, that's why we decided to buy a house in Armenia, in case something happened during Russia. So we will have shelter house in Armenia so we could move there (00:05:06). At the same time, there was no way to live in Armenia because of the war. And the republics were fighting. I mean, Azerbaijan and Armenia--the economical situation was really bad in Armenia. I mean, like, they had no electricity, they had no water. And it was really, really hard. So, that's why we will lived in Russia. We tried to go to Hungary where my husband's family is. We lived there--we used to live there for awhile. We stayed there for awhile and, um. But we could not do anything without paperwork. We had no legal rights to live in Hungary. And they said that--we talked to lawyers and they said it would us like, a year or two until they can legalize us. And that's why we just came back to Russia. And um, at that time when all that happened, uh, when all that happened in Azerbaijan, George Bush was the president of the 6:00United State, and--States. And he made a public announcement that uh, all Armenians from Azerbaijan who considers themselves refugees--but so, they can apply to the American Embassy, and that will give us--they will give us permission to come to the States legally. So we tried that but we were not granted a refugee status, status. We were granted a parole status, and the parole status means that if you don't have anybody in the States--you have to have actually a sponsor to come, to come to the States. And at that time, like, we did not know anybody in the States who would sponsor us to come here. So, and that was actually one of the reasons. But like, in three, four years a friend of mine uh, called me--in fact actually found me and my phone number in Russia. And 7:00she gave me a call from the States and uh, she was happy to see me, too find me, to talk to me again. We were trying to find each other, so. Because we lost our friends. We lost our relatives. We--even now I would like to know where, you know like, my other friends are. But there is no way. I just ask, "Oh, do you know that person? Do you know where he's at or she's at?" So, and she found me and I was really happy. And she said that uh, she is able to sponsor me, so. And uh, we just decided if we have chance to come to the States, we'll try this chance. And that's actually what we did. And we are here for--we came to the States four years ago. Four and a half. Well, some months, so. It was in June 1994. Uh, June the 20th, I'm sorry, June the 20--the 20th, 1994. And uh, for 8:00about two months we lived in Providence, Rhode Island. And then as I said that, we lost each other. So, I found my relatives in Bowling Green, Kentucky and they suggested us to move to Bowling Green. So, now we're here!

DRUMMOND: And they, they own the Golden Key.

PETROSYAN: Yes. (laughs)

DRUMMOND: Um, were they from Baku, too?

PETROSYAN: Yes, yes. Uh, but (indeterminable name) is my cousin. Her mother and my father are sisters and brothers.

DRUMMOND: Um, when you first got to Rhode Island, do you remember what was your first impression? 

PETROSYAN: (laughs)

DRUMMOND: Of the United States?

PETROSYAN: Oh my lord! Uh, my first impression of the States. Okay. Uh, first of all, and it seems to me everybody who comes to the State have the same impression as I do. Like uh, no public transportation, no people were walking in 9:00the street. So, so many cars and traffic is heavy. That was my first impression. And as I said everybody has the same impression, so. Like mom, she still want, she, "I don't understand. I'm going to take a bus, a bus and go to the mall or somewhere. I don't want to wait for you until you come and take me somewhere." So...And actually, people just dress like, be casual. And uh...I mean, it's okay. Not much difference. Maybe the reason that I don't see such a big difference, and uh, because we use to live in Hungary for awhile. Then uh, we traveled a lot. When we were in Russia we traveled a lot. I was in Poland and 10:00Turkey and other places. So, that's the reason, you know. But (laughs) as I said we want to see more people in the street (laughs). That's what we miss.


DRUMMOND: I, I'm the same. I like to, to walk around in the streets, too. Do um--what did you think it would be like when you first came? Like, in your own country. Like when you first started to come. What did you imagine...

PETROSYAN: Actually maybe that uh, I don't want to say that it's really easy for us here. Like uh, maybe I'm not supposed to say that. But all the immigrants say that. "Oh it's great. It's easy." But I don't think so. It's not easy for us for us, for us. First of all we, we all have language barrier. It doesn't matter how well we speak English. Anyway, we have this barrier. We do not understand the jokes, you know, really well. I mean uh, it's not our language. Sometimes we're getting tired of talking and thinking at the same time. When we speak our language we don't think. When you speak different language, anyway you have to think. And it just, you know like, (laughs) the brain works, so...But uh, what I 11:00though about the States? I did not think anything. Uh, I just thought it is the same as it was in my country. But now I came across a lot of difficulties. And one of the problems is that you have to work hard here, you know, (laughs) to pay your bills (laughs). So...It doesn't matter you have a business or you work for somebody. Anyway, you have to work hard to pay your bills. So...That's a what a little bit, just, you know, different from our country. You have to work hard there, too, but there is a difference. And, I mean it's hard to explain. But we, we foreigners understand what we meaning, you mean, you know (laughs).

DRUMMOND: When you--Did you come by airplane?


DRUMMOND: Okay. And so, and did your sponsor meet you at the airport?

PETROSYAN: I'm sorry?

DRUMMOND: Your sponsor, your friend?

PETROSYAN: Yeah. She met me in, at the Kennedy Airport in New York.

DRUMMOND: And then did you um, move in with her for a little while, or--

PETROSYAN: Uh, no. When uh--a week before or two weeks before, we were supposed 12:00to come to the States, she called me and explained to me that we can stay with her, but at that time they were renting--there were like uh, five people in their family. And they were renting two-bedroom apartment. So they were not able. As they said, that we're all--I mean, "are more than welcome. And if they want to stay with us for awhile." But I just said "No, it's better if we can rent in an apartment." So we just rent an apartment.

DRUMMOND: Mhmm. And then when you found your cousin...


DRUMMOND: You moved to Bowling Green. How did you get to Bowling Green?

PETROSYAN: Uh, by bus (laughs).


PETROSYAN: (laughs)

DRUMMOND: What was that like?

PETROSYAN: Uh, they just said that it's uh, it'll just, it was like 20, 18 hours, or maybe like 20 hours drive, you know, (laughs) drive or whatever. So, I just don't know (laughs).


DRUMMOND: Did you talk to people on the bus, or?

PETROSYAN: No. I was quiet. I was scared (laughs). 

DRUMMOND: So you saw everything from Rhode Island to here?


DRUMMOND: You got the chance to see it.


DRUMMOND: That's interesting. It's bigger than your--this country, right?

PETROSYAN: Of course.

DRUMMOND: And so what, um, what were your impressions as we were driving and looking?


DRUMMOND: Is Providence--it's a city?

PETROSYAN: Yes. Providence is big. More bigger than Bowling Green, so. There is no comparison, I'm sorry (laughs). 

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

PETROSYAN: Um...Actually...But I like Bowling Green.


PETROSYAN: It's, it's a quite place. It's a good place to raise a child, and uh, it's, you have more chances here to--it seems to me-- (indeterminable). And people are really nice here. And they care. That's what is most important. And 14:00uh, I'm going to...uh, say a few words about my friends here in Bowling Green.


PETROSYAN: Um, from the first day of my coming here uh, people were willing to help me. I mean Americans. My first uh, friend, my first American friend uh, is, her name is Amy. Amy Riddle. She was the one who actually gave me a good beginning in this country. The job that I have now. She was the manager of uh, the Golden Chain and uh, she offered me a job. And actually I was scared to death. Uh, I, I could not imagine myself explaining actually--I graduated from 15:00the University of Foreign Languages in Azerbaijan, and I have a degree, but my English actually was dead uh, since 1997 (00:15:03). And uh...I was a little scared to explain people, how could I explain people about jewelry. It's not like in fast food "What would you like to have, sir, today?" and that's all. So you know, so you had, you were supposed to talk to people. You have to talk to people in order to sell it. So...Uh, but she said that uh, she has confidence in me. And um, that's what I hear from almost every American who is my, who are my friends and who are trying to help me. And that really, it's really helpful because that gives me energy. That really gives me confidence. And I'm not for sure if I really have it or not, but people are telling me that I do have it. And uh, so that helps. Um, I worked for the Golden Chain for awhile uh, I started with the Golden Chain--no. Let me tell you...Before I started with the 16:00Golden Chain I used to work at McDonald's. I just even don't want to remember, to mention that because those were the worst years in the States. After I graduated in the University in our country, I used to work at a travel agency as a guide, and then, in the office. And I've never, I could never even imagine myself to work in the restaurant or somewhere in fast food. And just not because it's bad. Nothing is wrong with it. But you know, people are different. So, and you just do whatever you like to. And when we came, came to the States there was nothing to do. I could not find a job. Nobody knew me and uh, I was telling you about that before. Uh, every day when I was coming from McDonald's at two o'clock and was supposed to pick up my daughter at two thirty, for thirty minutes I was crying. I was crying every day. And uh, when Amy offered me this job, I was excited. And at the same time, as I said, I was scared. So, I accepted it. And uh, God bless Amy. I want to say that because now I uh, I'm the 17:00manager. Uh...when Amy quit I was offered a manager's position over there. Can you imagine me just being with the Golden Chain for like seven, eight months, I was offered a manager's position? So, but again, my original manager Katie Brown she said the same, that she has confidence in me. And I took it. And don't want to brag, but I really did a good job. And uh, so I'm very friendly with everybody in the corporate office. The Golden Chain corporate office and the owner, Mr. Donald, (indeterminable) is uh, willing to help me in my future. And I hope it will happen. But we don't want to talk about it. So, when the Golden Chain went out of business about two months ago uh, probably, more probably, but 18:00I definitely know that, that I was given 100% reference. And I was uh, offered the same position with Piercing Pagoda. And now I manage Piercing Pagoda. And uh, again Americans helped me, and they trust me, and uh, I would like to say "thank you" to everybody. Because it's a great nation and uh, here in Bowling Green people are really nice and sweet. Uh, I also want to mention other friend, Cassie Johnson, who used to be my manager at the (indeterminable) shop. I used to work for the (indeterminable) shop for like uh, five, six 19:00months. And uh, then uh--it's a clothing store. And then Cassie Johnson uh, was uh, promoted--not promoted, but she got a job with a different company. With Kids-R-Us. And now she manages Kids-R-Us, and she offered me a job there. And I just had a part-time over there. Just a part-time job with Kids-R-Us. And uh, Cassie's more than friends. She's like a member of our family. Cassie sponsored my mom who came to the States a year ago. And uh, I really appreciate her help. And uh, I would never forget that.

DRUMMOND: Do you want me to pause?

PETROSYAN: No. No, no, no!


PETROSYAN: That's fine. And uh, because at the time--I mean, I could sponsor my mom. But I was not for sure if uh, whatever I have was enough to sponsor her. 20:00And just didn't want her paperwork be delayed. So, I mean uh--postponed. So--or delayed. Whatever is done (laughs). And that's why uh, when I was telling Cassie about my problem, she volunteered to help me. And it just took a few months. And my mom came to the States. So...


DRUMMOND: Where was she living when she came?

PETROSYAN: Uh, she lived in Russia.

DRUMMOND: Okay. So she was in Russia.


DRUMMOND: Um, how did you meet Amy and Cassie?

PETROSYAN: Mmm...When...mmm....we came to the States like--a second--before (laughs)--it was so long ago I don't remember. Um, when I got a job with McDonald's uh, for a month I used to work for Steak Express in the mall. And Amy's husband uh...used to work over there. Actually his uh, cousin owned that 21:00place. And they worked together. And Amy was helping them out, like, part-time. And um--but I could not work. As I said, it was hard for me to work in the mall and see a lot of people. And me cooking all that food. So it just--I quit in a month. I could not handle that anymore. And uh, stayed at home for a month. But uh--actually I forgot to mention that uh, when I quit in a month, within a month, I quit Steak Express, actually I was enrolled to the vocational school.

DRUMMOND: Oh yeah?

PETROSYAN: Yeah. I forgot that (laughs). And uh, I just stayed there and that's how I got my job at McDonald's. Because we needed extra money at that time. But it was hard for me. Regina went to the first grade and she could not speak English, and I had problems with her. You know how (indeterminable) was coming home and crying saying "Mom I feel uncomfortable. Everybody's speaks English. I do not understand what they saying." She did not want to go to school. So, and, uh, and just like...and I was in school, so I just did not know to start at 22:00night, to go to work, or to help Regina. So there was a reason that I dropped vocational school uh, in a semester. And I just thought that I would uh, finish it later. But when I wash, promoted to a manager's position, I just, I don't know if it's a right decision or not. I just thought I don't think that I want to continue it. So... (laughs). And I met Amy at Steak Express. And uh, then I haven't seen Amy for a few months. And uh, she, she was trying to find me and she did. And she found me, and that's how she offered me a job. And like, since that time until like, present, we're good friends. So Amy used to work for another jewelry store later--I mean, used to work for another jewelry store after she quit uh, Golden Chain. Uh, then she found uh...and after that, after she quit that jewelry store uh, now she's employed--she was employed with (indeterminable). And now probably something else (laughs). I don't know 23:00(indeterminable). Um so...

DRUMMOND: actually ended up meeting a lot of people at the mall then.

PETROSYAN: Yes. Uh, I really enjoyed my job in the mall. And I enjoy being in the middle (laughs) where my kiosk is located. I really like this location. I meet a lot of friends. And I have a lot of steady customers who come and talk to me and buy stuff from me. And I like to talk to them. And it seems to me, I know a lot, a lot of people. And as I said, I like to be in the mall and I enjoy doing my job.

DRUMMOND: Um, but you said that you chose to come to Bowling Green because it 24:00was um, because your cousins were here. And...I imagine, like, how many, how many Christian Armenians were here? Or people from Azerbaijan were here at that time? Or was it just your cousins and you, or?

PETROSYAN: It seems to me uh, before I came to Bowling Green I've heard that, like about four or five families moved to different states, states. And by the time uh, I came to the, to Bowling Green uh, there were about like 14, 13, 15 between 13 or 15 families. I don't know. I never counted how many (laughs).


PETROSYAN: So, um, like 13 or 15 families. So I cannot tell exactly how many. And uh, during this four years, like two families--no, four families moved to 25:00different states.

DRUMMOND: Did--when--did people get together to, together.

PETROSYAN: Very often, very often you mean? Yes, actually uh, we go and visit each other. And uh, night, you know like evenings together. Um, go to the, to birthday parties. And uh, so yeah, we see each other. I mean, you can--okay....(laughs)


DRUMMOND: Are there any special holidays that are unique? Maybe to you and um, other people from Azerbaijan?

PETROSYAN: Uh, we all like to celebrate New Year. Because actually we do, do not celebrate Christmas in our, we, in our country. And that's why we all like New Year. So we celebrate Christmas here as Americans do because we're getting 26:00America, becoming Americanized.


PETROSYAN: But uh, we like to celebrate New Year. It, it seems to me it's a special holiday for us. I mean, so for me.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. Um, so what do you do for New Year's? What kind of a...

PETROSYAN: Actually just the same as Christmas. But it's not necessary to buy presents.


PETROSYAN: Uh, but it's just the same.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, like food and special dinner.

PETROSYAN: Yeah. Eat, drink, dance. So...(laughs)

DRUMMOND: You're showing me pictures. There are pictures. Um, I was looking at pictures. Everybody--all the tables of food. And everybody dancing.

PETROSYAN: Yeah (laughs). That's what it's like (laughs).

DRUMMOND: Um, and your mother cooked a meal tonight. So, and what did we have? With the chicken?

PETROSYAN: It was stuffed chicken.


PETROSYAN: Uh, what else? Uh, shish kebab. Uh...what else?

DRUMMOND: And we had the caviar.

PETROSYAN: Oh, we had caviar. Uh, we had (indeterminable) tongue. I don't know 27:00if you like...

DRUMMOND: Yeah, tongue. Yeah, it was good.

PETROSYAN: Really? (laughs) Uh, (indeterminable). So, and I'm happy that you liked them (laughs).

DRUMMOND: Yes, I do like the (indeterminable).


DRUMMOND: And you had...

PETROSYAN: Oh. This...

DRUMMOND: What was the things, the burritos that....

PETROSYAN: Uh, like um, forgot. Uh...Yanni! Yanni! I forgot how Yanni calls them. Okay. (laughs)

DRUMMOND: It's okay.

(somebody talking in the background)

PETROSYAN: Okay, she just asked me something.


PETROSYAN: She though that I needed her.

DRUMMOND: But you called them burritos.


DRUMMOND: Do, was it just for my sake, or?

PETROSYAN: No we don't call them burritos, we call them--let me ask them (laughs).

DRUMMOND: Okay. I'll pause.

PETROSYAN: Said you can call them uh, either chiburekki or uh, or 28:00uh...(indeterminable). Whatever, how you like the best (laughs).

DRUMMOND: So, are those...

PETROSYAN: We call them burritos. It's easier (laughs). 

DRUMMOND: Are they, are they Hungarian, is that why?

PETROSYAN: No. It's uh...actually, uh, Yanni likes (indeterminable) and uh, sometimes he does it. But actually this is just easier to do. So...


PETROSYAN: (laughs)

DRUMMOND: Okay. Um...

PETROSYAN: (coughs) Sorry.

DRUMMOND: And so, in order to, to get the food--we talked a little bit about the shopping., like, and you say that you preferred Walmart, right? And that you get the kinds of food that you needed at Walmart.

PETROSYAN: Uh, actually as I said uh, mentioned, I like to shop, like at Kroger, 29:00at Houchen's. Uh, but I prefer Walmart. Because I said--you probably know, I work essentially open to close everyday, and never have time. And you know how men, they don't like shopping. Uh, especially grocery shopping. So, and that's what I usually do. I do grocery shopping with mom. And it's easier for me just, you know, just to shop in one place rather than to drive from one store to another, you know. And try to find, like--I mentioned, I don't know if we have to say that or not, but I don't like those coupons.


PETROSYAN: As I said, it's wasting time, is wasting gas. It's just better to buy (laughs) whatever you need in one place and be done, rather than to drive back and forth. I mean...

DRUMMOND: And Walmart has the kinds of things that you need?

PETROSYAN: Yeah I don't buy clothes at Walmart. It's on my style. But I mean, I 30:00like to do grocery shopping there and uh, we can buy soap, shampoo and all that stuff that you need just in one place. Any it seems to me it's a really great store. 

DRUMMOND: Because the tongue. I mean...

PETROSYAN: Yeah, I bought the tongue. It wasn't cooked, of course. And uh, I bought that in Walmart.

DRUMMOND: In Pittsburg (indeterminable).


DRUMMOND: This is your, your mother. Tell--what your, what is her name?

PETROSYAN: My mother's name is Zoya.

DRUMMOND: Zoya, Zoya.

PETROSYAN: (talking to her mother) (laughs)

DRUMMOND: Could you, would she like to say a story? Like to tell a story?

PETROSYAN: In what language?

DRUMMOND: Something--in, in her language. Whichever language. Something for 31:00your great-great grandchildren.

PETROSYAN: (laughs) (speaking with her mother) Okay, she says "What I can say um, how we were forced to leave Azerbaijan. I don't want to talk about it." So...


PETROSYAN: I will just leave her alone.


PETROSYAN: (laughs) Let her drink her tea. So...

(Petrosyan's mother talking)

PETROSYAN: Mom said she that suffered a lot in Azerbaijan. And uh, she was almost--I mean...

(Petrosyan's mother talking)

PETROSYAN: She was, she was dropped in the airport, and uh, she was--and she suffered a lot. So...I mean, I don't want to talk about. It's just terrible. 32:00It's hard. But thank God she's alive and everything is fine. 

DRUMMOND: Does she like it here?

PETROSYAN: Uh, she does. But she is having the same problem. She wants to see more people in the street, and she wants public transportation (laughs). She wants, she does not want to wait for me or Yanni to come and take her somewhere. She just wants to, you know. I mean, for--it's easier for me because I'm busy all day and uh, I don't even have time to relax whenever I'm at home. I just need to come in and just go to bed and in morning and it just starts all over. And for her, being here all day, you know. Just having no chance to go anywhere without me. Of course it's a little bit boring. But Regina keeps her busy.

DRUMMOND: And she cooks a lot...

PETROSYAN: Oh yes, she does, she likes it.

DRUMMOND: And it was delicious. It was very, very good.

(Petrosyan's mother talking)

PETROSYAN: She says "You're welcome." (laughs)

DRUMMOND: Spasiba, right?


DRUMMOND: Spasiba. Spasiba.

PETROSYAN: (laughs)

DRUMMOND: Um, so when you--what surprised you the most about Bowling Green? The 33:00biggest surprise?

PETROSYAN: The biggest surprise? I wasn't surprised.

DRUMMOND: You weren't surprised at all? Like the size of the grocery stores, or?

PETROSYAN: Huh-uh. As I said uh, I used to live in Hungary and they just had the same. So...


PETROSYAN: Actually all European countries have the same supermarkets, and uh...So, I'm sorry but I did not see a big difference.


PETROSYAN: So it's just the same.

DRUMMOND: No, that's fine. Yeah, that's...Um, how about working with like, the Russian Club? Do you ever...

PETROSYAN: Russian Club?

DRUMMOND: The Russian Club? Because it's for all Russian speakers. Do you get together with other Russian speakers to celebrate certain things, or?

PETROSYAN: I've never heard about Russian Club.

DRUMMOND: You never--okay.

PETROSYAN: (laughs) I don't even know that we had one here in Bowling Green.

DRUMMOND: (indeterminable)


DRUMMOND: Yeah. How do you keep up with um, events?

PETROSYAN: What kind of events?

DRUMMOND: Um, like the news. Like do you keep, do you follow the news? In 34:00Azerbaijan? Or do you try to get like, papers?


DRUMMOND: You don't?

PETROSYAN: I just hear from here and there from our people, you know. If something weird happens, so. But actually no. 


PETROSYAN: Unfortunately I don't have time for it.

DRUMMOND: Yeah. Um, we were talking a little bit about how you had spoken English when you were like, taking English. In 1987 you graduated--


DRUMMOND: --in English. Um, do you have any good, any interesting stories about learning English here when you first moved?

PETROSYAN: What do you mean? Something that I did not understand?

DRUMMOND: Yeah. Or just uh, or people not understanding you, or...


(talking in the background)

PETROSYAN: (laughs) Um, yeah sometimes it happens that you do not understand a word.

(recording cuts out)

DRUMMOND: Describe your first home. Was this your first home?

(Petrosyan's mother talking)

PETROSYAN: Uh, my first home? Here in the States?


PETROSYAN: That's my third one. One was in Providence, Rhode Island. Uh, and other one um, before mom came, uh...When we first moved to the States like, for a month I stayed with my cousin. And, like in a month uh, I got, we rented an 36:00apartment down uh, like one block down on Broadway.


PETROSYAN: And uh, it was a one-bedroom apartment. Oh, and I loved that place! I don't know why.

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

PETROSYAN: It was one bedroom but is was so cozy there and just uh, just liked it. And (interminable) didn't want to come here, so. But uh, when found out that Mama's coming everybody was saying "You have to have a bigger place to live." And I just did not want to leave that place. I really liked it. I just, I just felt like at home. I don't even feel like I'm at home here in this apartment. I don't know why. So...And uh, but I've told to myself and that's what we decided. So that, we're gonna stay here until we move to a house. And uh, it seems to me it will happen next year. Definitely (laughs). If we stay in the States, and we 37:00not go anywhere, so it will happen. The reason that I say we, "If we stayed in, stay in the States," because we're thinking, you know, maybe to go to Hungary. But I doubt. It's 50/50. If we definitely decide we're gonna stay here, so. We're ready for house.

DRUMMOND: If you did leave, what would you miss the most about the United States?

PETROSYAN: Mmm, if I did leave? Oh, God. Of course I'll miss it. Of course. Uh, people, friends. Again, friends, friends, friends all the time. Uh, so...mmm...It's a great thing in the world. I mean, I like people and I like to have a lot of friends. And as I said, that's what I miss in Azerbaijan most of all. And what I miss in Russia. I miss my friends. So, that's what I would miss here. And of course I'm used to this place. I just feel comfortable here. But uh, we, all my husband's relatives are in Hungary and we just thinking--and actually I was getting American citizenship you can just liver wherever you want 38:00to, so. In case, if even we decide to leave the States we will always have chance to come back.


PETROSYAN: So, if I feel that I cannot live there, so I know my home is here. But Regina want to stay here. She really likes it.

DRUMMOND: She does?

PETROSYAN: Yes, she really likes here. So...

DRUMMOND: And how old was she when you moved here?

PETROSYAN: Uh, she was born in 1988. We move in '94. So, how old was she? Like, five and a half it seems to me.

DRUMMOND: Yeah, five or six.

PETROSYAN: Five and a half, mhmm. Five...yeah...

(Petrosyan's mother talking)

PETROSYAN: Yeah, five and a half.

DRUMMOND: And so that's when she went right into school. And that's why....

PETROSYAN: Yeah, she went to school in August '94, and she wasn't even six. Now she is in the fifth grade. 

DRUMMOND: Um...How about some stories about um, about growing up. What stories 39:00would like for Regina to know? Or Regina's children to know? About growing up. About your family, or...

PETROSYAN: Uh, you mean like, what mean Regina's future or...

DRUMMOND: Or like, games that you played with your family. Um...

PETROSYAN: Games? That I play with my family?

DRUMMOND: Yeah, or just like, just like what it was like to grow up.

PETROSYAN: (laughs)

DRUMMOND: Yeah, just like what it was like to grown up. Sometimes it's like games that you played with your brothers and sisters. Or um...just...things. You lived in the city, right?


DRUMMOND: Okay. What did um, your father do?


PETROSYAN: Uh, my father inherited business from his father. So, and uh, that's what he did all his life. When the war started, of course there was no way to carry your business with you, so. And it was like uh, uh they were doing like gates for the houses and they were doing uh, like uh, if you remember....


(Petrosyan's mother talking)

PETROSYAN: ...uh...

(Petrosyan's mother talking)

PETROSYAN: ...uh...

(Petrosyan's mother talking)


(Petrosyan's mother talking)

PETROSYAN: Uh, then um...

DRUMMOND: Through the windows.

PETROSYAN: Yes, and uh, then they were doing, like a mattresses, like um, like 41:00metal mattress. You know this uh...

DRUMMOND: Wrought iron?



PETROSYAN: For the beds.

DRUMMOND: Like springs.

PETROSYAN: Yeah, so. Elaborate furniture and so, it just was like a combined business.

DRUMMOND: Like a metal...

PETROSYAN: Mhmm. And that's what he was doing. Uh, I don't know how it would in English call it. So...

DRUMMOND: (laughs)

PETROSYAN: Uh, I mean, lot of things. Uh, and I mean, and his business was growing really well. And that's what he has been--he was doing all his life since, as I said he inherited from his grandfather. And his grandfather opened that business like in Azerbaijan. And then he was uh...

DRUMMOND: Oh, okay, I'll pause it.

PETROSYAN: And uh, then people from Iran wanted him to go to Iran and develop that business over there. So my grandparents uh, moved to Iran and they lived there for like two years. And so they owned that business there. And then they moved back to Azerbaijan. So, and uh, if I'm not mistaken of my 42:00father--(speaks in Russian).

(Petrosyan's mother talking)

PETROSYAN: Yeah, it's one of the children. Uh, there were four children in the family. My father, (indeterminable). And then another brother who passed away when he was a teenager. And another sister, their sister she's in Russia. My aunt.

(somebody speaking in background)

PETROSYAN: So she was one of them. Or was was born, was born in Iran. So...And uh, so when the war started--so we came to Russia. And then my father, uh opened another business. Like a clothing business. Clothing business in Petergof in Russia with Yanni, so...

DRUMMOND: What was the name of the city?

PETROSYAN: Petergofl.

DRUMMOND: Um...Okay, we talked about um...You're Christian, right?



DRUMMOND: Right? Okay. So, is Christmas, then, just a strictly American holiday, or?


DRUMMOND: You didn't celebrate it?

PETROSYAN: Um, no. Actually it seems to me...uh, Chris-, uh--I was told that uh, Mom told that like a few years ago, right? They started celebrate Christmas. Christmas (speaking in Russian with mother). Okay, so that means I'm mistaken. 

(Petrosyan's mother talking)

PETROSYAN: Uh...(speaking in Russian with mother). Okay, probably uh, I know that uh, in Hungary--so Yanni's mother, she was all, I mean Yanni's parents um, Yanni's father was in the military in Hungary when he met Yanni's mother. And uh, so his sister was born in Hungary. And uh, so like, in year two they came 44:00back in Azerbaijan and Yanni was born there in Azerbaijan. And uh, I remember when I met Yanni, his mom was always saying that they were celebrating Christmas, and so she was trying, you know, to do that at home. But I don't remember anybody in our country celebrating Christmas. We knew about that holiday but we never celebrated. We, as I said, we just celebrate New Year. And it just the same. Few days different (laughs).


(people talking in background)

PETROSYAN: Okay, go ahead. I'm sorry. 

DRUMMOND: That's okay. Um, do people from um, different countries like--who were the other countries that you socialized with before? Your friends that are from other countries here that are maybe not from Azerbaijan. Um...


PETROSYAN: Well, we have families from Ukrainian and Belorussia. We know each other and we're always happy when to see each other, so. But...



PETROSYAN: that's all that's how I communicate with them. They're all nice. So, I have a friend, I have friends from different countries. I have friends from Pakistan, I have friends from Italy. So, and they're really nice people, and I enjoy being with them.

DRUMMOND: Do you think it makes a difference um, when people from other countries bond together uh, become friendly here? Because they're from other countries, or? 

PETROSYAN: Yes, yes. Actually foreigners are always excited to meet for other foreigners, so... (laughs)

DRUMMOND: No matter what country?

PETROSYAN: Yeah. The other day me and my friend uh, who is an Italian uh, we went to the coffee mill in the mall. And the girl who, I mean, one girl who works there, she just, we started talking and she asked me what country I am 46:00from. And I said, she said "Oh, my husband is from Kuwait." And I said, "Oh really?" The girl who works with me at Piercing Pagoda, so. Her husband's also from Kuwait. And we were so excited, I don't know why (laughs). But that's how it happened, so... 

DRUMMOND: Um, how about you have anything that we have, that you would like to talk about that we haven't talked about. There are all kinds of things. Um, any particular stories you'd like to tell, or?

PETROSYAN: Um, actually it seems to me we mention a little bit of everything, so.


PETROSYAN: What I would say, first of all, thank you very much for coming, and thank you for interviewing. I just uh, I mean we're really, really appreciate that and we're pleased. Uh, so...Then I just uh, would like to say great thanks to the American government who really cares about us, and uh, that we're here 47:00and we're in secure place and we're not in danger and we don't think about what's going to happen tomorrow. So we're safe. That's the most important thing. And uh, also I want to appreciate everybody's help, and especially my friends, and tell them great, great thank you. Because it's really hard. If you come to another country and you find people who understand you, who like you, and who try to help you, so. I'm not talking about financial help. Nobody needs that, you know--I mean we all have brain and hands, you know. We can work. Uh, I'm telling about people's desire just to give a good advice, to finding a good job. And people who care about you, so. And Americans are like a nation that cares about other people. That's why it's a country of immigrants probably, you know. And that--and it says a lot that it's a country of immigrants. Because everybody 48:00who comes here feel really, really comfortable and it's just because of Americans. Because of these people who know how to treat other people. So I mean...

DRUMMOND: That's great. That's good. Um, do you have any advice for people who have moved to Bowling Green?

PETROSYAN: Oh no, I don't like to give advice. 

DRUMMOND: You don't like to give advice? (laughs)

PETROSYAN: (laughs) Nobody will follow anyway (laughs).

DRUMMOND: Oh, okay. Um, alright, and we just a little about, a little bit--in the future, your grandchildren or your great-great grandchildren may listen to this tape, and what, what would you want them to know? What is, what are some of the things that you want them to know?

PETROSYAN: Mmm, first of all I want my child--I mean Regina, and my grandchildren to know that we came here for their better future. Uh, America's a 49:00country with great opportunities and...So you can achieve a lot here if you want. And that's what I want Regina and my grandchildren. Be happy here and secure here. So...And I hope it will happen. Because Regina knows that it's not easy for us to live here and get what we had. Every day it's just a struggle for better future. And they see it. And we're doing that for them.

(Petrosyan's mother talking)


DRUMMOND: Does she have something...

PETROSYAN: No, no, no, no.


SALAI: I don't know.

PETROSYAN: Mhmm, what he wants to say? What do you want to say, Yanni?

SALAI: I don't know.

PETROSYAN: How do you feel bout the States?

SALAI: Good.

PETROSYAN: He likes it here.

DRUMMOND: What would you want um, like Regina's children to know about you or your life?

PETROSYAN: Oh, of course we'll tell our children what happened in our country and explain to them why we are here. Because this qui--Regina, Regina started at 50:00the beginning, like a few years ago when she was small, of course she did not realize what was going on. But now she asks me why we're here, what was the reason of our coming to the States and uh...But you see what, honestly, I don't want to explain her the little details why we are here. Because we have families from Azerbaijan, Muslim families from Azerbaijan, and I don't want as a child know, and uh, that we had religious problems. So it's better if she does not know about it, so. And later it's better is she know, if uh--I mean she's not in 51:00this age, you know, to know this, you...


PETROSYAN: know what I'm saying? Uh...

DRUMMOND: Okay, I put it on.

PETROSYAN: Uh, she wants me to tell how we met. Uh, when I, when I was in the university uh, it was my first year. And we were invited to their wedding. And uh, at that time we, I mean it was my cousin's, right? Yeah, my cousin's wedding from my mother's side. And uh, the guy who my cousin was going to marry was his, his cousin.

DRUMMOND: Oh, okay.

PETROSYAN: So, that's how we met each other. We were dancing and uh--but our parents knew each other because his father was in the same business as my father. And then... (Petrosyan's mother talking). Mama. And uh (laughs). I 52:00already said that, I already said that, okay? And uh, so our parents knew each other. Our fathers, so. A Yanni wanted to dance and his father said "Oh, just feel comfortable. Just invite her." So he did. And (laughs) so, and since that day it was, as I remember January the 16th, 1992. And since that time, we saw each other every day, and we were dating for five years, and when I graduated from the university in June 1997, uh...

SALAI: '87.

PETROSYAN: 1987 (laughs). I don't know what's wrong with me. So, and in three months we get married. So, and we still together (laughs). Still together. So, Yanni behaved (laughs).


(Petrosyan's mother talking)

PETROSYAN: I already said. Mom says tell that you were doing for five years. I said "I already did!" (laughs)

DRUMMOND: How about um, how about the day Regina was born? Tell me about Regina's birth. Or that day.

PETROSYAN: Oh. Regina was born on October the 3rd, 1988. And actually, we were expecting a boy. And uh, when Gina was born I was like "Boy?" The first thing is, what I said. They said "No, girl." And I was like "Oh, no." And they were like "Oh, look at her! Look how beautiful she is. Look at at her." I said "I don't want to look at her." I was expecting a boy (laughs). But now we're happy that we have Regina. Yanni was a little bit upset, too. But she's the only one for us in the entire world, so. We love her, she's our only child and uh...(laughs). So...

DRUMMOND: Well um, I'll just ask if you have, do you have anything else you'd 54:00like to add?

PETROSYAN: (indeterminable) probably everything.

DRUMMOND: Okay, well thank you very much. I want to thank you and thank you for the meal. And...

PETROSYAN: Thank you very much. Thank you for coming.

DRUMMOND: And we'll conclude the interview. So...