"With believe and effort everything is possible"

A multimedia story by: Hayk Sargsyan, Gohar Meloyan and Ekaterine Macharashvili

In spite of the age of 27 Hayk Sargsyan managed to achieve the goals he aimed, both in personal and professional spheres. He went to Germany in 2014.

"There and back again"

Why did you go to Germany and what did you do there?

Hayk Sargsyan: I went to Germany as I was chosen as a participant to study in the German International Cooperation (GIZ) Program “Advice on Legal and Judicial Reform in South Caucasus” – “The winter academy transformation lawyers – legal dialogue for legal transformation” organized together with Hertie School of Governance. The Academy is targeted at lawyers from South Caucasus countries. It was simultaneously organized for young public servants from judicial and administrative fields aimed in strengthening regional cooperation and network. Although the duration of the program was relatively short, it was pretty intense and effective, as the schedule was composed of classes taught by top-tier professionals on different contemporary topics, including soft skills, public governance and comparative analysis. Moreover, during those three weeks I had an opportunity to travel in Germany visiting - Hamburg, Dresden and Munich. I explored every part of Berlin, one of the most romantic cities in the world, where I fall in love with my future wife.

  • The youngest Head of the Legal Department in the history of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia (appointed at the age of 25, after 2 months he was back from Germany). 

  • Telling toast at the graduating ceremony of Winter Academy, Hayk unexpectedly confessed love to his future wife. Here is live version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGji2LiEzCk&feature=share

  • Hayk with his 1.6 year old son. After returning home he was inspired to make a purpose of marriage to his colleague from same Program and to continue find new ways for his professional growth.

  • Here is the checklist, which according to Hayk’s experience, helped him to adapt back to his homeland and served as a ground for future development after his return from Germany. 

  • Hayk’s wife! He found her photo on his way to Hertie School and never gave back. It’s became his talisman from Berlin. Love borned in Germany was for whole life.

How did you benefit from your stay in Germany?

The program organized by GIZ gave me a solid base and background for more professional approach in my everyday work. First time in my life, I was able to meet and speak with my colleagues and peers from Azerbaijan. This was a unique opportunity because of Nagorno-Karabakh-Azerbaijan conflict and closed borders. The most important was common acknowledgment of the fact that all the problems and conflicts can be solved in a peaceful way, around the table, and that our generation should do it’s best to approach to that peaceful agreement. Thus, while in Germany, I not only got theoretical knowledge and obtained practical skills, but also I clearly recognized, that the solution of the conflict and peaceful coexistence of two nations is possible and may be attained by our authorities.

Do you remember the first time after you returned to your home country from Germany. What was different compared to the time before?

After I returned to my homeland the biggest difference was my changed perception of the world. I clearly understood that outside of the boundaries of my country there is a whole new world with its own experience, practice and legal systems. Moreover, there was new political reality of Armenia, as the government resigned and, hence, as the Assistant to the Minister of Justice, I had to leave my job. However, soon I was offered the position of the Head of Legal Department of the National Assembly. Despite the difficulties I have encountered whereas holding this position, I consider that the skills on governance, regulation and analysis which I learnt in Hertie School of Governance, undoubtedly helped me for both being appointed to this position and successfully work on it. Thus, German experience not only taught me a lot, but served as an impulse and inspiration, prompting my future development and expanding my perception of the world.

Video statements from team members

"Achievements and omissions"

After your return: What were the challenges for your professional but also for your private life?

The lifetime in Germany was crucial for me. I realized, for my personal and professional development, I needed to continue my studies abroad. This triggered me to pursue LL.M. degree. Unfortunately, the lack of German reduced my chances in Germany. So after long researches and tones of effort I was admitted to the one of the best universities in the world - Columbia University, where I gained my Master’s Degree with Harlem Fiske Stone award. After, I also successfully passed the New York Bar exam. The biggest challenge for my private life was that I deeply fell in love with one of my colleagues in Germany and after coming back I realized, that she was that special one, whom I was looking for my whole life and I should do my best to conquer her heart. After we were back to Armenia, GIZ announced its 3rd Regional Alumni Conference "Transformation Lawyers", and both of us were chosen among alumnus from Armenia to participate in it. In Berlin I proposed her to marry me. Everything was really incredible. Soon, after her acceptance, we started the process of organizing the wedding ceremony. Not more than in a year the happiest thing happened in my life, our son, Alexander, was born.

If you could plan your stay in Germany and come back home once again – what would you do differently? Any recommendations for those to follow your path?

If I had a chance to plan my stay in Germany and to come back home, I would definitely try to establish constant network with my lecturers and colleagues from Hertie School of Government. Studying in Germany was my first international experience in democratic western country where the rule of law prevails. Thus, at that stage of my career unfortunately I did not acknowledge the importance of international network. Furthermore, I should again refer back to Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. GIZ program gives truly unique opportunity to young professionals from two neighboring South Caucasus countries to interact with each other for the period of three week. Unfortunately, after it returning to their countries people become part of the hostile environment. I think while in Germany I should have proposed some kind of webinars between Armenians and Azerbaijani students, which would incite future corroboration.

"Personal approach"

Would you recommend someone to study in Germany?

Germany with its world-class staff members and ultra-modern infrastructure, globally recognized degrees and universities is a great place for every prospective foreign student. It is also a great experience to spend time in a diverse country in the Middle of Europe. Together with free access to higher education for all students irrespective of their nationality, studying in Germany offers an exceptional opportunity for everyone. Also, it is a great chance to learn German, one of the widely spoken and the most important business languages in the world. I seriously regret that I did not have sufficient time to learn it. Thus, I am still seriously considering this opportunity. After PhD degree, currently I think about writing the doctoral thesis in Germany.

Did you meet any obstacles, while making your decision to study in Germany?

Certainly, getting an email, that I was selected as a participant of Winter Academy Program, was amazing news for me. But, first of all, I was thinking how I should get permission from my Supervisor to be away for nearly a month, because of my busy routine. But, he is a very open-minded personality and hearing the news he greeted the idea that I would study in Germany. Furthermore, as I was in the center of political and legal developments of our country, I was thinking, if the Program worth to leave everything. Now I can state, that participation in Winter Academy Program was one of the rightest decisions I have ever made.

You hold PhD, you are an alumni of Winter Academy Program, of Columbia Law School, you passed the New York Bar, and you are the Head of Legal Department of National Assembly of Armenia, what moves you forward?

My motivation moves me forward. I believe that each individual can achieve any goal he or she aims if one strives to work hard. But a desired result may require diligent and devoted work for a long period of time. However, everything is possible. One need only strong believe and sufficient effort to put in it.

Postcard to Germany