Teaching Is Not the Only Talent: The Great Garbanzo

The human nature that has been rhapsodized by philosophers has its biases. I am going to take advantage of being biased myself and dedicate a full article to this person. It is impossible to leave Christian Garbis’s class without being academically challenged.  He never gave up on us, a frustrating group of crazy people. He taught us to love learning.


From Facebook page of Christian Garbis

-My hobbies include cooking. I like to try out different recipes that I find online or I invent things on my own. The ingredients in Armenia are of high quality. Most of the fruits and vegetables are organic and the food comes out fantastic. And because we have various types of meat and spices, we can do some amazing things.

-Where does your love of cooking come from?

-Growing up I always watched these cooking shows. When I was younger, I used to watch Julia Child with my mother, and she liked to experiment with food. The older I got, the more restaurants I tried, and I think the love developed gradually. A friend of mine who lives in Boston loves to cook too, and he makes a lot of interesting dishes. His culinary skills have also influenced me.

-I know that you have a food blog. Tell me a bit about it.

-The food blog started last fall. It’s a form for me not only to tell about my recipes and dishes that I have created with photos, but also I’m intending to do restaurant reviews. The language is conversational, and there’s a persona behind. The author of the blog who is called “The Great Garbanzo” is me, but there’s this persona who is a little bit grumpy, which is shown in the writing.


From Facebook page of Christian Garbis

-I know that you are also interested in filmmaking. What are your interests in that field?

I started filmmaking when I was an undergrad in the University of Massachusetts. I started taking film studies courses and made a few short experimental films. I used “Super 8mm”, then I switched to digital video. I made about six or seven short films. It was a labor of love.

-Are they available online?

Two of them are available on YouTube. There is one called “Carriage of Dreams”,which is just a woman who doesn’t understand if she is in a dream state or she is in reality. And there is another one called “Elements of Eternity”, a documentary about fire and water. It is a very short abstract film. I wrote a long text that is being read. There is an Armenian version too, read by Hovhannes Babakhanyan.


I also like to travel around the country. I like to jump in my NIVA and travel to different parts. I’ve been from Arapi (near Gyumri) all the way down to Meghri.

-Do you travel outside the country? If yes, what countries have you visited?

-I visited a lot of European countries, usually for a day drip, during layovers. I’ve been to France, Austria, Romania, Italy, The Netherlands. I’ve been to Moscow for 12 hours.

-Which country did you like the most?

-It’s a tough question. During my first visit to Armenia in 2000, I really fell in love with the country and the people and the city. Yerevan was much more European at that time. Now, it has lost a lot of its charm. Despite all this, I would say it’s Armenia.

-After having lived in Armenia for eleven years, do you still think the same?

-Because I wasn’t born and raised here, I see things in a different way. Like a lot of diasporans who move here, I see a lot of potential in Armenia. I see a lot of potential for economic growth, I see a lot of business and cultural opportunities and also opportunities for growth related to social issues.

My perception about society has changed. I think it could have been working a lot harder to improve socio-economic conditions and keep the government in its rightful place.

There were times where I didn’t see that happening. People were becoming more apathetic and they weren’t keeping the government in check when, as citizens of a democracy, they should have been. But lately, I’ve been noticing a lot more changes towards the positive. Working at AUA gave me a lot of hope, inspiration and positive energy. I see that the progress is going to come from your generation.

-What advice would you give to my generation?

The important thing to know is that very often, others get you down or suppress your enthusiasm. There’s a lot of pessimism out there. It is coming mostly from the middle-aged generation. They’ve been used to this “Everything is bad,” “Vad e, Vad e,” “Yergire yergir che,” ”Nothing is changing.” This negative vibe has permeated the society. And only your generation is going to eradicate it. As long as your generation doesn’t fall into that trap, Armenia has boundless potential.

The older generation always expects things to magically change. I want your generation to spearhead a movement of change. I want you to push that change forward. I want you to transform the society.



Photographer, cameraman Karen Galstyan


Maladets, Mr. Garbis, fsyo!



Arpi Janyan

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