Ben Sweeney’s Weblog

Got a Fulbright, living in Georgia for a year.

Back in Georgia

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I’m back in Georgia and I’m loving it. I got a Boren Fellowship to study Georgian and work on my MA thesis research.

I’ve already had some great experiences in the short time I’ve been here, and some good stories to share, and will now that I am settled and have a stable internet connection.

I’m heading to Khevsureti for the weekend, crossing off the last major region I’ve been really wanting to go to, so there will be some words about that as well.


Written by bensweeney

September 23, 2011 at 9:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Grad School, etc.

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So, for those who do not know, I am getting a Master’s Degree at the University of Michigan at the Center for Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies. It is going well so far – I am enjoying Ann Arbor and am taking interesting classes. I am studying Russian, Uzbek (which is a wonderful mix of Persian, Arabic, and Turkic languages with a smattering of Russian thrown in, and it is also fun to run across words that got borrowed into Georgian as well), History/Polisci, and Public Policy, focusing on Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus.

As for my future travel plans, I have applied to a number of fellowships, etc. mainly to try to get back to Georgia, where I would like to do thesis research. I am also planing on spending some time visiting Tereza in Prague, starting with my spring break in about a week. Toronto, Jack Lake, New York, Washington D.C., and potentially Moscow and St. Petersburg are hopefully in future travel plans as well.

Also, here is an update and long overdue background on Armenui Khatisyan:
So, Armenui Khatisyan is the mother in law of one of my friends, Ruslan, who lives in Zugdidi. He requested that I help find her relatives, and through the power of the internet and special searches, my mom managed to find some relatives, and found out that her father is most likely deceased. When I visited Ruslan, he told me not to tell her this, although by the time of my next visit, her niece and nephew had called, so I consider the whole thing a somewhat success.

Written by bensweeney

February 19, 2011 at 11:07 pm

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Current Things Pertinent to my Interests: Russian Transliteration of My Name

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Just got a new visa for an upcoming trip (leaving tonight!). Well, it is not actually a visa, more of a clearance for border crossing. And it is not so much a border, well, at least in the eyes of international law, but I don’t want to delve into those issues.

What is interesting to me is that on this clearance, they spelled my name yet another way.

Usually it is Свини, but I’ve run across about 5 others, including Суини, which I prefer.

I thought they were all out of possibilities, but they just came up with Суиини.

Written by bensweeney

July 2, 2010 at 6:11 am

Current Things Pertinent to my Interests: Dashes

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Specifically these three:

em dash: —
en dash: –
hyphen: –

I’ve been editing all kinds of interesting things lately, and have been using a lot of dashes.

Written by bensweeney

July 2, 2010 at 6:03 am


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Ok, so today was Giorgoba.
I went up to near the mountains with some friends.
Well, Happy Giorgoba!

(From Nov 23, 2009)

Written by bensweeney

June 10, 2010 at 6:43 am

Posted in supra

My name is Armenui Khatisyan.

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More details to follow, but check this out:

My name is Armenui Semenovna Khatisyan.  I was born in 1939 in Saloniki, Greece.  In 1947 our family moved to Armenia to live in the village of Shamshadin.  At that time there were 5 in our family: my father, Semyen Khatisyan; my mother, Tirui Gariyan-Khatisyan; my brothers Apkar Khatisyan (born 1942), Alexander Khatisyan (born 1945), Shavash Khatisyan (born 1947); and myself.  In 1959 we moved to Yerevan, where my two younger sisters were born: Khamest Khatisyan (born 1953) and Takush (Takui) Khatisyan (born 1963).

In 1963 or 1964 (I forget exactly), my brother Apkar was drafted into the army.  He served for 3 years and then returned home.  In 1967 he left for Russia.  He was last seen in Tashkent, and his friends have no further information on him – we don’t even know if he is still alive.

In 1967 I got married in Abkhazia (in the village Chlou in Ochamchire region).  In 1969, Angela Khukhua, my only daughter, was born.  My father Semyen died in 1973 in Yerevan.

In 1963 or 1964 (I forget exactly), my brother Apkar was drafted into the army.  He served for 3 years and then returned home.  In 1967 he left for Russia.  He was last seen in Tashkent, and his friends have no further information on him – we don’t even know if he is still alive.In 1967 I got married in Abkhazia (in the village Chlou in Ochamchire region).  In 1969, Angela Khukhua, my only daughter, was born.  My father Semyen died in 1973 in Yerevan.

In 1986, my younger sister Takush moved to the USA.  In 1987 my brother Alexander (along with his wife Alvart Dallakyan; son, Gevork; and daughter, Gayane); my sister Khamest with her husband and two children; and my mother Tirui also moved to the USA.  After they left for the states, I haven’t received any information about them.  In approximately 1990, my brother’s father-in-law, Vasili Dallakyan, who lives in Pyatigorsk, sent me the address of Alvart’s brother in the USA.  Judging from the address, they were living in Los Angeles (Hollywood).  Following this, I sent several letters to that address.  I received some kind of red card, which confirmed that a letter I had sent reached the intended address, but I didn’t receive any other kind of response.

During the war in Abkhazia we fled across the Administrative Border, and are now living as Internally Displaced Persons in a “Collective Center” converted from a former Kindergarten.  During the War, I lost the LA address which had been sent to me from Pyatigorsk.  I have no way of finding my relatives who I haven’t seen in 23 years – my one remaining hope is that this letter will reach someone who can help me find them.  I request that you please help me find my brothers and sisters, because as you can guess, I’m already quite old, and miss them quite a lot.  I’ve tried very hard to find them, but all my efforts so far have been in vain.  My only hope rests with you, and God-willing we can find my family.

At present day, I live with my daughter, her husband, and their children in the city of Zugdidi in the western part of the Republic of Georgia.

Please help.

Contact information:

225 Gamsakhurdia Street
Kindergarden #1
Zugdidi, Republic of Georgia

telephone: +99590 200 198; +99593 35 37 02
Skype: ruslan4391

(This contact information is for my son-in-law, Ruslan Sajaya)

And now in the original Russian:

Меня зовут Хатисян Арменуи Семеновна. Я родилась в 1939 г. в городе Салоники, Греция. в 1947 г. наша семя переехала жит в Армению, село Шамшадин. Тогда нас в семе было пятеро: папа, Семен Хатисян, мама, Тируи Гариян-Хатисян, брат, Апкар Хатесян 1942 года рождения, Александр Хатисян 1945 года рождения, Шаварш Хатесян 1947 года рождения и я Арменуи Хатесян. В 1959 году наша семя переехала жить в Ереван. Там родились две моих младших сестер: Хамест Хатисян 1953 году и Такуш (Такуи) 1963 году. В 1963 или 64 точно не помню брата Апкар призвали в армию. Там он прослужил 3 года и вернулся домой. 1967 году уехал в Россию, в последний раз его видели в Ташкенте его друзья после этого у нас нету о нем никакой информации, не знаем жив ли он. В 1967 году я вышла замуж в Абхазии (Ачамчирский р-н село Члоу). 1969 году у меня родилась единственная дочка Анжела Хухуа. Мой отец Семен умер в 1973 году в Ереване.  1986 году младшая сестра Такуш переехала жить в США. 1987 году в США переехали жит брат Александр с женой Алварт Даллакяном и детьми: сын Геворк и дочка Гаяне. Сестра Хамест с мужем и двумя детьми и моя мама Тируи. После того как они уехали в США у меня не было никакой информации от них. Приблизительно в 1990 году тест моего брата Васили Даллакян, который живет в городе Пятигорск, прислал мне адрес брата Алварта. Судя по адресу, они тогда жили в Лос-Анджелес  (Голливуд). После этого по этому адресу я написала несколько писем. Мне пришло какая-то красная карточка, которая подтверждала, что моё письмо дошло до адресата, но от них я не получила ответа. После воины в Абхазии я потеряла адрес которую прислали с Пятигорска. Я никак не могу наитии их, одна надежда на вас, на то, что вы поможете мне найти моих родных, которых я не видела 23 года. Прошу вас, пожалуйста, помогите мне наитии братьев и сестёр вед мне тоже не мало лет и очень скучаю по ним. Как я только не старалась наитии их, но все тщетно. Единственная надежда на вас. Пусть господ поможет вам и благословит вас. На сегодняшний день я живу с дочерью и внуками в городе Зугдиди (западная часть Грузии).

Пожалуйста помогите.

контакты:  Грузия, г. Зугдиди, ул. К. Гамсахурдия №225. № 1-детский сад.

Tel:   +99590 200 198;    +99593 35 37 02;


Skype  – ruslan4391

Это контакты моего зятя, его зовут Руслан Саджая

Written by bensweeney

March 18, 2010 at 5:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized


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Oh man, its kind-of late here, and as usual, I did not intend it to be that way, but I just have to write something about this evening.

I went to the banya as usual on Fridays.  It was quite nice, except that I showed up a bit late – traffic was horrible (some Orthodox holiday or something), and when we got there it took a bit to get into our room.

Anyways, the banya was amazing as usual, as was the dinner afterwards.  Someway through all this, I decided to call this number I found in my phone.  I had a good idea that it was some Marine that I met at the Marine Ball last week, and calling, this turned out to be the case.  They were a bit away from where I was, and although I wanted to see what these Marine dudes were up to (talking to them at the Marine Ball was really interesting), I went with my friends to this nice arty bar (which is kind-of rare in Tbilisi).

Almost immediately I peeled off of them.  We got some beers and sat down.  Then I thought I recognized this girl at a table just next to us, so I went over and asked if we had met (I forgot her name).  It turned out to not be who I thought it was, but I did indeed know another person at the table, this Swedish girl who couchsurfed at my place a while ago.  It turns out that she is back to study here.  I met her friends.  My other friends eventually joined us.  We had all kinds of conversations, a lot of it was about LGBT issues actually, as well as British v. American humour and other topics.

Somehow, I managed to peel off of these friends as well eventually, I mean as they all went off home.  My mom called and gave me my official GRE results.  People have been asking if I “passed,” and I guess I can say “Yeah, I did pretty ok, I guess I passed.”

I started talking to some Norwegians.  They are here for some kind of Court thing, they tried explaining it, but I’ve forgotten the details.  By the end of the night, it was just me and some Norwegian dude in this bar, as well as the owner/bartender and his girlfriend.

Eventually the Norwegian decided to go.  I had only stayed out of politeness and interest in the conversation, so I was good to go.  I put on my hat and scarf and blazer and dug some clementines out of my bag and tossed them to the bartender, and left as well.

By the time I left and started walking home I saw this guy walking towards me.  It turned out to be the Norwegian guy.  I walked him to his hotel to make sure he could find it, and on the way we passed by a church.  Our conversation turned to religion.  I told him that I’m Jewish.  Then he told me about his Grandfather.

Apparently 80% of the Norwegian Jewish population was killed during the Holocaust.  His Grandfather was half Jewish and was lined up for a boat to head to a concentration camp/certain death.  Then somehow, the German in charge pulled the Grandfather and his brother out of the line and told them to go home.  And so I got to meet Tage.  (I forget his Grandfather’s last name, but it was something like Judahstein, or something super, super Jewish)

It was a lot to think about walking home.  I saw some people sitting on a curb.  They seemed like clubbing kids.  One of them was black with dreads and clearly foreign, but I’m pretty sure the others were Georgian.  I pulled out my last clementine and tossed it to them.

I caught a cab not far from there.  It was cracked and rattling, and went the wrong way once, but got me home for 4 lari.

I wish I had some more clementines at the moment, but I know I can buy some more tomorrow for a lari a kilo, so its ok.



P.S. looking over this I realized that I did not include some of the best stories I heard this evening, involving this character named E.J.   Its probably better that I didn’t.  But I can tell you if you ask.

Written by bensweeney

November 13, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Posted in update