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Success Story

EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES:
Levon Golendukhin’s Pursuit of Success

What does success mean for you?
To be in a position where I feel happy with the impact my life can make.
Would you fly to the moon?
Absolutely. They say the views of Earth are spectacular.
To be or not to be?
To be. Why not to be? As a wise Canadian philosopher said, "You only live once."


Mobile Boundaries: Outside & Inside

"At a personal level, setting goals and doing things in pursuit of those goals is itself a gratifying experience, isn't it?" says Levon Golendukhin, a 25-year-old Luys alumnus. "The meaning of life lies behind the search for that meaning."

Levon studied in Toronto, New York, and London, all of which inspired him and contributed to his personal development. He studied International Business at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, followed by Columbia Law School, and then he earned a Master of Law degree from the London School of Economics.

"Education is such an enriching process. I learned to take the initiative for my own personal development, seeking out experiences and resources that would best advance my academic and professional capabilities."

At Columbia Law School, the emphasis on critical thinking fostered his skills in logic and argumentation and strengthened his respect for diversity. Levon's dissertation focused on the issues of state capacity in investment contracts with unrecognized states. When a foreign investor makes a contract with an unrecognized state and chooses a court of the other country or international arbitration in which to settle contractual disputes in a neutral forum, then questions arise from the fact that the state is unrecognized. His research involves Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Law as a case study to provide recommendations for international practice.


I LEARNED TO TAKE THE INITIATIVE FOR MY OWN PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT, SEEKING OUT EXPERIENCES AND RESOURCES THAT WOULD BEST ADVANCE MY ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL CAPABILITIES.

Each of the places where he has settled at different stages of his life have seeped into his inner world, bit by bit, each of them in a unique way, influencing his personality, enriching his worldview. Toronto, New York, Barcelona, Tokyo, London, and most recently Yerevan, left their own traces and colours, creating invisible, yet perceptible, bonds within Levon.

Levon has chosen New York City to be his home for the next couple of years. "It has always been an exciting and energetic place," says Levon. "I'll be working as a junior associate in the litigation department at Dentons, a global law firm." He will be working on commercial disputes. He thinks of this job as a big shift from the academic world, and he looks forward to learning the professional side of the law.

English, French and German are few of the languages that Levon speaks fluently, and his Armenian is improving. "With each new language comes a different understanding and appreciation of the things around us." Furthermore, by means of languages he finds common ground with people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, allowing him access to diverse cultures.


To Live Through & Within Cultures

Three quarters of Levon's ethnic background is Armenian and one quarter, his parental grandfather, is Russian. The Armenian side of his father's family comes from the villages surrounding Artashat, some of them tracing roots back to the Armenians resettled from the Persian Empire. Levon's mother is from Kapan with roots in Syunik and Bolnis-Khachen in Georgia.

THE ROMANTICIZATION OF GOING ABROAD CAUSES POPULATION OUTFLOW AND BRAIN DRAIN. BUT BEYOND BORDERS, YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS TO LIVE FAR AWAY FROM YOUR OWN CULTURE.

"My cultural background is a complicated story," he says, smiling. "By the way, my Armenian friends often insist that I'm full Armenian, so we have agreed that I'm Canadian-Armenian." Soon after Levon was born in Armenia, his family moved to Russia, then to Germany, and finally, to Canada. "Each of those places had their own influence on my life, and I associate myself to varying degrees with everyone and every bit of those cultures." It's no secret that the emigration rate is high in Armenia, and Levon has his own view on this issue. "The romanticization of going abroad causes population outflow and brain drain. But beyond borders, you understand what it means to live far away from your own culture."

Levon understands what it means having one's own culture elsewhere, bearing it as something invisible and untouchable, breaking the silence about it, making it coexist with the culture of others, learning about it, and approaching it step by step. As he has gotten older, he has come to understand his parents' decision to emigrate. "So I can't judge those who emigrate. In my family's case, only the best intentions determined my parents' decision to leave Armenia."

Levon recognizes the many benefits he gained from growing up in economically developed countries. At the same time, he realizes the sacrifices associated with leaving Armenia. His parents' academic credentials were not recognized abroad, so they had to find new professions in Canada. "What's more, it's not easy to raise your children far away from your culture. My siblings and I grew up ‘bi-culturally', only recently exploring and rediscovering our Armenian roots."

Regarding emigration, Levon singles out the following dilemma: staying and making the best of what one has or leaving and starting from scratch. "Yes... it's truly a difficult decision that requires an individual approach, weighing all the consequences."

In terms of the development of Armenia, Levon calls upon the Diaspora for input. "Various fields, such as education, culture, finance and commerce, need tremendous support, and therefore, solid ties between the Diaspora and Armenia is crucial for the reintegration of a single global Armenian society."




Breathtaking Armenia: Myth & Reality

While fond of Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo and contemporary American literature, Levon also enjoys reading about Armenian history and culture. He has learned that perseverance has fueled the many great achievements of Armenians.

Recently, Levon visited Armenia and spent four months exploring and rediscovering his Armenian country and heritage.

"The landscapes there are really breathtaking. Those mountains, mountains everywhere, on the horizon, and that Geghard Monastery. You enter the large columned chambers and realize that there are no gaps, tiles, or lines in the walls or columns, and you grasp that most of the complex was carved out of the mountain. That's a crazy realization. I was fortunate to hear a choir singing there. I experienced the phenomenal acoustics inside. It was a unique, incredible experience."

Spending some time in Armenia, Levon sensed a sort of fatalistic mindset in the local people in regards to the future. He also points to significant issues that Armenia faces today, and appreciates people's desire for social, economic and political development. "It seems to me that many Armenians exaggerate what life elsewhere is like. I have had many conversations with Armenians who point out all sorts of problems and view them as facts of life in Armenia, even as facts of life specific only to Armenia. But I'm happy that the young generation is starting to see the country differently."

Luys scholars define their attachment to the homeland, challenging their connection and contribution to it and mapping out routes towards change. Even while employed at the global law firm in New York, Levon is determined to remain close to Armenia, and strives to make a difference there.

Levon is also working with a team of his peers at the Luys Foundation and Endowment Fund. He conducted research in Artsakh over the summer, and is now creating a foreign investment law manual for Artsakh, as part of his Luys work and contribution. "The manual aims to bridge the information gap for potential foreign investors in Artsakh. I hope to apply my experience studying international arbitration and international investment law in writing the manual."

The project pursues three main goals: to identify the many opportunities available in Artsakh, to explain legal risks involved in investing there, and to provide general recommendations on navigating the legal landscape and mitigating those legal risks.


"With this manual, I hope to raise awareness about investment in Artsakh, and to encourage commercial exchanges between Artsakh and investors in other parts of the world. There is a rapidly growing diversity in the types of foreign investment projects available in Artsakh. I hope to support new foreign investors by reducing information asymmetry, and thereby encouraging them to consider the opportunities in Artsakh."

I HOPE TO SUPPORT NEW FOREIGN INVESTORS BY REDUCING INFORMATION ASYMMETRY, AND THEREBY ENCOURAGING THEM TO CONSIDER THE OPPORTUNITIES IN ARTSAKH.

Levon views Luys's vision as bold and promising. "Sponsoring world-class education for Armenians is an important step in developing the human capital of Armenia. The Luys Endowment Fund is a project aimed at making the Luys scholarship fundraising process both sustainable and transparent. The fund will disburse only the interest rate it collects to secure a rate of 200 scholarships a year for the next hundred years. I'm happy to be engaged in this project for our future, as it's a chance to have input in supporting the generation coming right after me, as well as Luys to reach its vision."

Story created by Anri Grigorian, Luys Alumnus

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