Armenia's Olympic Team heads to Beijing with high hopes

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Armenia's Olympic Team heads to Beijing with high hopes

The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008NationalArmenian community to recognize Schiff, WalzWASHINGTON – Rep. AdamSchiff (D.-Calif.) has announcedthat Rep. Tim Walz (D.-Minn.) willvisit Southern California, wherethey will be jointly recognized bythe Armenian-American communityat an August 11 event.“Since coming to Congress, Rep.Walz has been a tireless advocateof the Armenian community andwas a leader among his class inthe effort to recognize the ArmenianGenocide,” Mr. Schiff said in astatement for the press.Profile:Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Schiff is serving his fourthterm in the House of Representativeson behalf of California’s 29thcongressional district, which includesthe Los Angeles suburbs ofBurbank, Glendale, and Pasadena.In his district he has the largest Armenianconstituency anywhere inthe United States.Since his election in November2000, Mr. Schiff has been at theforefront of advocacy for Armenian-American issues, spearheading effortsto affirm the U.S. record onthe Armenian Genocide, secure assistanceto Armenia, and work forpeace in Karabakh.In that process he has publiclyand repeatedly questioned U.S.officials, from Secretary of StateCondoleezza Rice on down, onthe Bush administration’s failureto speak freely on the ArmenianGenocide.“Ronald Reagan had the guts todo it,” Mr. Schiff told Fox News atthe height of the debate over theArmenian Genocide resolutionlast October. He was referring toPresident Reagan’s 1981 statement.President Bush “likes to modelhimself after President Reagan,” headded.”Let’s have the courage thatRonald Reagan had to speak thetruth.”In an interview with the ArmenianReporter last year, Mr. SchiffLeft: Rep. Tim Walz with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other colleagues. Photo: Office of Rep. Tim Walz. Right: Rep. Adam Schiffduring the introduction of the House resolution on the Armenian Genocide in Jan. 2007 with Rep. Frank Pallone behind him.Photo: Armenian Reporter.discussed Nagorno-Karabakh. Hesaid he was “confident that the U.S.will continue to support the rightfor self-determination for the peopleof Karabakh. I had a chance tovisit Karabakh some years ago andI was enormously impressed withthe pioneering spirit of the peoplewho live there and who formed thegovernment there. And I am determinedto do all I can to supporttheir efforts.“I think that facts on the groundspeak for themselves. Today thisis largely an Armenian communitythat chose to express its self-determinationand I think they shouldbe supported in that. And I willcontinue to keep our administration’sfeet to the fire in support ofthat right for self-determinationand make sure that in our fundingdecisions vis-à-vis Armeniaand Azerbaijan we are not sendingmixed signals in terms of the rightsof the people of Karabakh.”Mr. Schiff has been a memberof two key congressional panelsthat play a decisive role on theseissues. From 2001 to 2006, he wasa member of the House Foreign AffairsCommittee, which providesoversight for U.S. foreign policyand the work of the State Department.Since 2007 he has worked inthe House Foreign Operations Subcommittee,part of the AppropriationsCommittee, whichn directsfederal budget allocations, includingU.S. foreign aid.For his efforts Mr. Schiff hasbeen recognized by the ArmenianNational Committee of Americaand the Western Diocese of the ArmenianChurch of North America.Mr. Schiff is one of few servingmembers of Congress to have visitedArmenia more than once – fora week in August 2001 and for ashorter visit as part of a regionaltour this May.Unlike most other AppropriationsCommittee members, Mr.Schiff currently serves on two othercongressional panels – the Committeeon Judiciary and, since early2008, the House Permanent SelectCommittee on Intelligence.Among his other congressionalefforts, Mr. Schiff co-founded theDemocratic Study Group on NationalSecurity in March 2003, tostudy emerging national securityissues with other members of Congress.He is also the co-chair of theCongressional Caucus for Freedomof the Press and a member of theHouse Democracy Assistance Commission.Prior to his election to Congress,Mr. Schiff served between 1996 and2000 as a member of the CaliforniaState Senate, chairing its JudiciaryCommittee.And before that, Mr. Schiffserved with the U.S. Attorney’s officein Los Angeles for six years.Born in 1960, Mr. Schiff is a graduateof Stanford University andHarvard Law School. He and hiswife Eve have two children, AlexaMarion, born in 1998, and ElijahHarris, born in 2002.Yovanovitch nomination clears a Senate hurdleProfile: Rep. Tim WalzRepresenting the first district ofMinnesota in the House of Representatives,Tim Walz has beenactively supporting the Armenian-American community in his firsttwo years in Congress. His districtincludes the state’s southernmostcounties.Upon his arrival in Congress, Mr.Walz fought within his freshmanclass for recognition of the ArmenianGenocide. He has also joinedthe Congressional Caucus on ArmenianIssues; co-signed “DearColleague” letters condemningAzerbaijani war rhetoric and supportingU.S. assistance to Armenia;and actively lobbied for U.S. assistanceto Iraqi-Armenian refugees.In a meeting with the Armeniancommunity of Minnesota last November,Mr. Walz described hisstance on the ArmenianGenocideresolution: “This is about settingthe historical record straight sothat we can move on and learn;this is about getting closure for notonly victims but perpetrators.”As a retired command sergeantmajor in the Nebraska Army NationalGuard, Mr. Walz is thehighest-ranking enlisted soldierever to serve in the United StatesCongress. Mr. Walz served overseaswith his battalion in supportof the U.S.-led Operation EnduringFreedom in Afghanistan.Prior to his election in November2006, Mr. Walz was a high schoolgeography teacher for more thantwenty years. He taught in Chinaon a Harvard University exchangeprogram in 1989–1990.In 2003, Mr. Walz was featuredby the New York Times for his effortsto teach high school studentsabout genocide in early 1993, justprior to the Rwandan genocide.Born in Nebraska in 1964, Mr.Walz is the son of a public school administratorand community activist.While in high school, Mr. Walz spenthis summers with his extended familyworking on their farms.He is a graduate of the ChadronState College in Nebraska and receiveda master’s degree from St.Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota,where he is currently workingon his doctorate in education.Mr. Walz and his wife GwenWhipple, a native of southwesternMinnesota, have two children,daughter Hope, born in 2002, andson Gus, born in 2006. f— Prepared by Emil Sanamyann Continued from page The administration continues torefuse to use the word genocide tocharacterize the Armenian Genocide.But, whereas Mr. Hoaglandhad initially argued that the eventsof 1915–17 may not fit the definitionof genocide, Ms. Yovanovitchhas stated repeatedly that it is upto the president to decide whethershe, as ambassador, could characterizethe events as genocide.Most senators said they werestill not satisfied with the administration’sposition on the Genocide.In a voice vote, they nonetheless allowedthe nomination of Ms. Yovanovitchto move forward. Senatorscited a State Department letter issuedthe day of the vote that, onesenator said, marked a “significantstep forward” in the administration’sappreciation of the issue.Sen. Boxer remains inoppositionSen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.)was the sole committee memberregistering a vote against confirmation.Criticizing the administrationfor its refusal to use the termgenocide in reference to the destructionof the Armenian peoplein Asia Minor, she described hervote as “support for the truth.”While acknowledging Ms. Yovanovitch’sexperience and competence,Ms. Boxer said she could notvote in favor because the nomineerefused to use the word genocide.“Why can’t she just say, ‘I personallysee this as genocide, but theadministration does not want meto use that word. So, although inmy personal view it was a genocide,I cannot call it so [officially]’?” thesenator asked.Ms. Boxer added that althoughshe would be voting in opposition,she would take no other action toblock the nomination.Sen. Menendeznotes better StateDepartment rhetoricMr. Menendez, like Ms. Boxer, expresseddissatisfaction that Ms.Yovanovitch would not expressher own opinion on the ArmenianGenocide. He noted that when U.S.ambassadors are sworn in, they donot “say that ‘I take an oath to thePresident of the United States, thisor any future president.’” Rather,they swear to uphold the Constitution,he noted, arguing that ambassadorsshould be able to expresstheir opinions more freely whentestifying before Congress.Mr. Menendez cited a letter hehad received from the State Departmentthe day of the vote as areason he was not voting againstthe nomination. The letter clarifiedtestimony by Ms. Yovanovitchabout a proposed State Departmentprogram to “bring archivists fromTurkey and Armenia to the UnitedStates for professional training.” Itsaid the program did not intend to“open a debate” on the facts “of themass killings and deportations ofArmenians committed by Ottomansoldiers and other Ottoman officialsin 1915.” The letter of clarification,signed by Matthew A. Reynolds,acting assistant secretary ofstate for legislative affairs, added,“We indeed hold Ottoman officialsresponsible for those crimes.”Mr. Menendez said that for anadministration that has frequentlycalled for the characterization of theevents of 1915 to be left to historians,this response was a “significantstep forward,” encouraging him tovote in favor of the nominee.Sen. Ben Cardin (D.-Md.) alsospoke in opposition to the administration’spolicy, noting that fromMs. Yovanovitch’s responses tothe committee it is “clear that thenominee acknowledged that whathappened [to Armenians] wasgenocide,” even if she was forcednot to publicly use the term.Sen. Biden thanksArmenian-AmericansIn his remarks, the committee chair,Mr. Biden, recalled the commitmentsmade by the State Departmentto work toward the improvementof Armenia-Turkey relationsand to address Turkey’s genocidedenial.The committee chair said that theultimate objective is to get Turkey toacknowledge the Armenian Genocidefor all sides to move forward.Democraticmembers at theSenate ForeignRelationsCommitteemeeting on July29. Seated, fromleft, Sens. JoeBiden (chair),Chris Dodd,John Kerry,Russ Feingold(obscured),Barbara Boxer,Bob Menendez(speaking) andBen Cardin.Photo: ArmenianReporter.Mr. Biden praised the Armenian-Americancommunity for itsposition on the issue and acknowledgedthe role played by senatorsin pressing the administration.As part of the confirmationprocess, Senators Biden, Boxer,Cardin, and Menendez, and fellowcommittee members BobCasey (D.-Penn.), Norm Coleman(R.-Minn.), Russ Feingold(D.-Wis.), John Kerry (D.-Mass.),and Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) hadpressed the State Department foranswers on issues relating to theU.S. policy on the Armenian Genocide,U.S.-Armenia relations, andregional matters. (See the ArmenianReporter for July 5, 12, 19, and26 for the full texts of the correspondence.)f


8 The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008CommunityHappy birthday, Asbarez Continued from page 7quake had taken place. All the fonts,all the lines, the whole thing fell topieces. He came out and looked atit, and he said, ‘I know what’s goingon.’ He said this is sabotage. Isaid, ‘What are you talking about? Ijust forgot to clamp it.’ He said, ‘Becauseyou guys don’t like me, you’repurposely delaying the publishingof the paper, so that my reputationlooks bad.’”Mr. Megerdichian spent thatnight reassembling the printingplates and delivered the paper ontime. He would eventually earn hismathematics and social science degreeand engage in a brilliant andrewarding teaching career at KingsCanyon Middle School and nearly30 years at Bullard High School. Theformer printer of the paper thatreached thousands of homes andhearts now spends his retirementteaching courses at Fresno City Collegeand California State University.He is also the chair person of thecommittee in charge of redevelopingthe area historically known asArmenia Town.“One of the founding membersof Asbarez was a Tufenkjian,”says Mr. Megerdichian. “The word‘tufenk’ means gun in Turkish. Hisson, Richard Gunner, is now adeveloper and is in charge of thedevelopment of Armenia Town.There’s a beauty in this, a connection.What his father had started,Asbarez, was destroyed and torndown, and now it’s back again, tobe revived, and Gunner is the developerwho is helping the party interms of a concept and a plan.”“We’re working with the city,”says Mr. Megerdichian with pride,“and we’re going to have a primelocation for the new Asbarez Club,right across the church on M Street.We’re going to have a building thatwill be representative of what ArmeniaTown used to be. There isgoing to be a club for people to playtavloo and cards. There will be aplace for all the organizations tomeet, and, of course, a place for us.”The move to SouthernCaliforniaAsbarez: 100 years youngIn the 1970s, when the Armenianpopulation was multiplying tenfold,the need for a local paper wasgreater in Southern California thanin the central section of the state.Instead of creating a second newspaperin Los Angeles, those attendingthe arf General Meeting votedto move the Asbarez operation toSouthern California.“Remember, we are a political organization,”says Mr. Megerdichian.“The balance of power had shifted toLos Angeles, because of the numberof members in the organization.Our members had died in Fresno,and we didn’t have replenishmentin our gomideh [party cell]. Therefore,when we had a general meeting,and the members in Los Angelesoutnumbered the membersin Fresno, [we knew it was time tomove].“It was one of the saddest momentsfor the people of Fresno tohear that Asbarez was going to goto Los Angeles,” says Mr. Megerdichian.“At that time, the newspaperwas financially [in such a badstate] that, in retrospect, it was ablessing [for the paper to be movedto Los Angeles]. The time was justright for it to move. Armenian lifewas just flourishing and boomingin Los Angeles, whereas in Fresnoit had stabilized and it had alreadytaken form. So there was an importantrole for Asbarez to play in LosAngeles, where the community wasjust developing.”The Asbarez Publishing Companymoved to the Venice neighborhoodin West Los Angeles before findinga new home in Glendale. Mr. Megerdichiansays he was disheartenedwhen he saw the Venice location forthe first time. “It was a very sadsight to see,” he says, “the place onVenice Boulevard. That’s where itwent. Then the way they printedthe paper had changed. It was offsetprinting, and the old printingmachines were just sitting there.But they did a marvelous job in LosAngeles. When I go to meetings [inGlendale] and see how the place isrun, it’s amazing. From a budget of$19,000, now they have a budget ofmillions.“A day doesn’t pass without melooking at the word Asbarez,” sayMr. Megerdichian, “and flashingback to pictures of what it used tobe and what it is now. I have thisadmiration for the sacrifice of theyoung people in our organizationand admiration for the older generation,who were willing to give us responsibilities.They were very happyto see the young get involved. Theygave us roles to play. They believedin us.”Mr. Megerdichian says older generationsof the party have alwaysencouraged the younger generationsin any way they could. “Theyhosted us in their homes, and thelove they had for the culture wasamazing. And Asbarez was the center,the center for them to meetand socialize, take pride in. It livedup to its name.”“I think the newspaper’s 100thanniversary is a tremendous occasionto be part of,” says English-sectioneditor Ara Khachatourian.“Asbarez has not only informedthe community for several generations,but the community has beenshaped through the newspaper. Ifeel privileged to be a part of it.Next 100 yearsWhen Asbarez published itsfirst issue, it did so with a commitmentto become a trustedMeeting of Eastand West Coastwriters andeditors. Front:Sahag Chitjian(Hairenik) andAsadour Khrdian(Hairenik/Asbarez); back:Khosrov Yesayianand BaghdasarKurkjian.source in providing importantnews and information to thecommunity, a commitment ithas maintained and re affirmedthroughout the years.And, through thick and thin, Asbarez– first as a weekly, then asan Armenian-language daily – hasbeen there, not only providingnews and information, but mobilizingcommunities, forming opinions,and becoming the arena manyturn to for commentary, criticism,and food for thought.On May 1, 1970, when Asbarezbegan publishing its English sectionas a one-page insert, the communityawakened to the realities ofchanging times.The first English-language editorialstated that the time had comefor the California community “toassert itself as an organized andlively unit.” The need to reportnews about the Armenian communityin the English languagereflects Asbarez’s awareness of thecommunity’s diversity and hencethe importance of reaching its untappedsegments.On February 1, 1997, Asbarezlaunched its site on the WorldWide Web. By the turn of the century,asbarez.com had already beenaccessed one million times and anew asbarez, a new arena for exchanginginformation and tellingthe Armenian story, was created incyberspace.“We’ve had the online componentsince 1997,” says Mr. Khachatourian,“but recently we shifted our dailyEnglish-language coverage to theInternet. We have expanded coveragethat’s exclusively online andhave expanded our weekly weekendedition in English.”Mr. Khachatourian says Asbarezmanagement has noticed a growingtrend that young readers preferthe Internet, and the newspaper isready to provide news and informationfor generations to comeand to move forward with the latesttechnology.“For me, it’s been like nurturingan infant,” says the English-sectioneditor. “It’s been interestingto be involved with the newspaperand its print and Internet versionsduring such a critical timein Armenian history. Working as areporter and editor for more than15 years has made Asbarez a partof my life.”21st-century media“I’m optimistic about the future ofArmenian print media,” says Mr.Boghigian. “Despite all the prognosisthat print media is dying, Iam confident that Armenian printmedia is vibrant and will remainvibrant.”Mr. Boghigian says there is agreat need in the Armenian-Americancommunity for Armenian mediathat provides a comprehensiveand thorough look at the daily andweekly news that pertains to Armeniaand Armenians.“Our daily news coverage providesmore content than the collectiveof all the sites available on the Internet,”Mr. Boghigian continues.“Most people don’t have the timeto go to various news sources andscour for information from this siteand that site, so we provide themwith a one-stop shop of news andinformation.”Mr. Boghigian also says the Armenian-languageedition of thenewspaper provides a niche that isnot met by any other publication.“There continues to exist a largenumber of people, including thenew immigrants, who read onlyArmenian,” says Boghigian. He believesthe need for a printed Armenian-languagedaily will continuefor at least another few decadesbefore more readers turn to the Internetas their primacy source ofnews and information.“Whether produced in print oronline,” says Mr. Khachatourian,“Asbarez is something that’s here tostay.”connect:asbarez.comby Rubina PeroomianA history of a hundred years.A history of achievements, offailures, of the struggle not tosuccumb to economic hardship,of the struggle to maintain highstandards and deliver the bestpossible. That is the journey ofAsbarez through time. Indeed,it is the road traversed by all ofthe diaspora’s news publications.Some continue against all odds.Others live a short life and die.The founders of Asbarez endowedthis paper with a vision and amission to last as long as there isan Armenian community in California.Asbarez was born out of thenecessity of keeping the communityinformed about core issuesaffecting the worldwide nation,safeguarding the Armenian culture,language, and tradition, andfostering nationalism and a senseof belonging to the Armenianhomeland.During the First World War,when everything seemed to be lost,Asbarez was a flickering beaconto inspire hope for the future, tomake survival possible, and to keepthe fire of a free, independent, andunited Armenia burning. The creationof a free, independent, andunited Armenia is a goal that hasbeen pursued by the arf since the1919 General Congress in free Yerevan,a goal that shapes the politicaloutlook of the newspaper and allthose who embrace the vision ofthe arf.“We will always hold our flag aloft.We will prevail and will achieve aglorious future; or we will disappearin the folds of history witha heroic death. Onward! Civilizationhas always demanded sacrifice.Glory to us, if we become itsworthy victims.” This was the path(1896, number 15) that Droshag, theprototype of Asbarez and the firstorgan of the arf, took. This is thepath Asbarez follows.During the years of the Soviet occupationof Armenia, Asbarez, likeall the arf organs, pressed for a justresolution of the Armenian Causeand echoed the activities of theArmenian National Committeesin the international arena, whenSoviet Armenia was incapacitatedin that regard. Asbarez praised theSoviet Armenian government forits initiatives that benefited thenation and strongly criticized decisionsand activities harmful to thestate and the well-being of the Armenianpeople.In early 1988, Asbarez was the firstamong the diaspora media to soundthe alarm against environmentalpollution in Armenia. It publishedthe petition, sent to Moscow byArmenian intellectuals, in which ahorrifying statistic showed the degreeof harm that toxic fumes hadinflicted on Armenia’s air, water,and soil. It was through Asbarez’spersistent reporting on this issuethat the diaspora found out aboutthe dying of the forests in northernArmenia and of the disappearanceof fish in the rivers, the elevatedrates of cancer, stillborn children,and birth defects, as well as the increasingfatality rate of children intheir first year of life.The demonstrations and protestsagainst environmental degradation,this long-overlookedproblem in Soviet Armenia,merged with the Karabakh movement,and the diaspora media, ledby Asbarez, became a voice for theextraordinary events taking placein Yerevan and Stepanakert. ApoBoghigian, the editor of Asbarezat the time, rightfully statedthat the newspaper had becomea gateway for the gathering anddissemination of news and informationabout the critical eventsunfolding in Armenia and Karabakh.He had direct communication,the fastest the technology ofthe time allowed, with the nervecenters of the homeland’s politicalactivities. Asbarez, together withHorizon TV, had shouldered thetask of informing, warning, andmobilizing the Armenian community,and, equally importantly, ofcounteracting the misinformationspread by the Soviet and particularlyAzerbaijani media.When the devastating earthquakehit Leninakan and Spitak,when the Soviet Azerbaijani governmentresponded to the Armeniandemands with massacres inSumgait, Baku, and Ganja, the diasporamedia lost no time to broadcastthe tragic events, soundingalarm bells and mobilizing human -rights activists throughout theworld.My intention is not to analyzeand evaluate the legacy of Asbarez.Rather, this short essayis meant to be a congratulatorynote from a reader who deeplyappreciates the irreplaceable roleAsbarez has played in our community.My sincere wish on this 100-year anniversary is that Asbarezwill continue to play that role unswervingly,that it will encounterno difficulty in adjusting to thedemands of the digital age todayand tomorrow, and that it willnavigate smoothly on the informationsuperhighway.


The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008 9CommunitySCHOOL BEATPopularity: Is it worth the price?by Hripsime MoskovianThe buzzPopularity. It’s a two-way street:you either have it or you die tryingto get it. Some acquire it with theirskills and talents, opting for athleticsand music as the tools towardssuccess. Others do it with theirwitty and entertaining personalities,while others by pure association.Regardless of the method, onething remains clear: no one is bornpopular.For those who are unfamiliarwith what it means to be popular,the subject is often a soreone. Many middle-grade and highschoolstudents go on to spendyears throughout their academiclives hoping to achieve what so feware able to experience. Many adults,well past their teen-bop years, lookback and cringe when thinkingabout the frustration, torment,and inevitable hate that accompaniedthe bid for gaining popularity.Not only was it bad enough to notattain it, but it became unbearableto be around the fortunate few whofound the secret recipe, drank it up,and shared it only with their closefriends.You may be reading this with asigh of gratitude that your adolescentyears are behind you and theword “popular” does not carry thesame weight that it used to. Unfortunately,for those who are still inschool and a long way from receivinga diploma, the word conjuresa purging of mixed thoughts andemotions. Not much has changed!The hypePopularity is a popular (for lack of abetter adjective) subject in mediarepresentation. Back in 1976, OliviaNewton-John’s character in Greasewas able to find contentment onlyupon building the bad-girl imagepopularized by other characters inthe film. In other words, she conformed.In 1995, Alicia Silverstone starredin the can’t-stop-watching-thoughyou-know-you-want-tocomedyClueless. The film, which portrayedthe lives of Beverly Hills-born teenagers,depicted an idealized versionof popularity and how it canchange one’s life. So ridiculous wasthe concept that the following yearrock group Nada Surf wrote a songtitled Popular, in which the subjectis mocked for its hype. Why all thefuss?“When students feel like they‘fit in,’ they feel that they havepeople they can turn to,” saysMary Balian-Saghbazarian, aguidance counselor at Grant HighSchool in the Valley Glen neighborhoodof Los Angeles. “They have acollective identity and have a falsesense of security that is based onpeople’s changing of opinion. Theymistake ‘fitting in’ with closenessand friendship.”Balian-Saghbazarian has firsthandexperience when it comes todealing with students on a dailybasis. “Everyone wants a place tobelong,” she explains. ”Friendsbecome the defining factor forself-esteem and worth. Whenchildren have nothing else thatdefines their identity, they don’thave security or a sense of belonginganywhere else; friends becomewho they turn to. No one wantsto feel like they are excluded orthere is something wrong withthem. A lot of times, students canbe very mean to each other. Theypoint out and pick on others whoare not a part of their group andbully them. Those students whodo not ‘fit in’ and are bullied maynot even feel safe.”Popularity, for many reasons,therefore, becomes a goal – onewhich may be attainable for some,and completely out of reach forothers. Kevork Bekarian, a recent8th-grade graduate at the MekhitaristFathers’ Armenian School inTujunga, California, is no strangerto popularity. As president of thestudent council for the 2007-2008academic year, Kevork enjoyed thebenefits of being known amongthe student body at his school.“Popularity means you are knownby a lot of people,” he comments.“You have a lot of friends and areinvited to many parties.” Kevorkdid not find it difficult to fit intohis role as a popular student. “Youhave to be very confident and youhave to be very friendly,” he says.“Leadership is also very important.I enjoy being popular, but it is a lotof work.”Melody Kodabakshi, another8th-grade graduate at Mekhitarian,had to deal with the ever-difficulttask of changing schools before her8th-grade year, and adjusting to anunfamiliar social setting. Fortunately,she was able to make friendswith little difficulty, but commentsthat others her age are willing todo a lot more to fit in. “Drugs, alcohol,and even crime are some ofthe things people might do to feelpopular,” she says. “I don’t thinkit’s worth it because it ruins yourlife. I don’t care how many peopleknow who I am; what matters aremy close friends.”Both graduates will continuetheir academic careers at ClarkMagnet High School in La Crescenta,California, a school muchlarger and much more diverse thanthe one that provided their formereducation. They will potentiallyface situations in which difficultdecisions that may or may not affecttheir popularity will need to bemade. The choice is ultimately thatof the student. “If students do nothave strong convictions themselves,they will convince themselves thatthere is nothing wrong with whatthey are doing, as long as they arepart of a collective group,” saysBalian-Saghbazarian. “If enoughpeople are telling you to do it, youmay eventually give in because youwill feel that you don’t have a wayout.”“Students must develop a strongidentity and security system thatis not based on the worth friendsput on them,” she continues. “Ifstudents are secure in themselvesand have a group of trusted peoplethey can turn to, they will have aneasier time being able to say no tothe things they are pressured to do.”Clearly, a firm foundation is the keyto the confidence one might needto say no to all types of pressure.“Low self-worth, low self-esteem,a lack of a loving support system,and a weak sense of identity willcause students to be easily influencedand do things so they canfit in,” Balian-Saghbazarian says.She adds that things don’t changemuch once a student enters college.“Even if you look at certain actionsand ‘requirements’ on fraternityadmission, students go throughhazing and drinking without limitsbecause that is what is expectedof them for admission. You lookat certain hate crimes and no onewants to stand up against everybodyelse even if they don’t agreewith the actions that are expectedof them.”Parents must educate theirchildren to not only distinguish agood decision from a bad one, butalso prepare them with the confidencethey need to reject negativeinfluence. “Students want to feelloved, accepted, and supported,”Balian-Saghbazarian says. ”If theonly place they can find [love,acceptance, and support] is inthe school, they will go to greatlengths to ‘fit in.’ This is evenevident in certain relationships,particularly in dating, where studentswill continue being in abusiverelationships but will stay inthem because they feel they arereceiving fulfillment with certainaspects of the relationship. Theyhave false definitions of love, security,and identity.”Her husband, Manny Saghbazarian,a special-education teacherand department chair at LongBeach Wilson High School, agreesthat the cause of a desire to fit incomes from a lack of love. “Teenagersare looking for a sense of belongingand acceptance,” he says.“They want to know they are beingheard and accepted. There arecommunication barriers at homeand the family structure is brokendown so they look to their friendsfor that love. They absorb the characteristicsof other people and startdoing things outside of their normjust to have a sense of belongingand identity.”For a 14-year-old student suchas Kodabakshi to say that others’opinion does not matter to herdemonstrates a strong sense ofidentity and confidence, one thatis clearly lacking among manyteenagers. “There is usually apath to destruction,” Saghbazariansays. “Teenagers are willing tosacrifice even their lives if theyfind a sense of identity. Gangs, forexample, fill the role of a family– a false sense of family becausethe teenager feels they are part ofa bigger purpose and they actuallyhave a significant role. Thisshows the importance of constantcommunication as being one ofthe pillars of a good family structure,for this allows teenagers tobe able to air out their concernsand know there is somebody thatcares enough to listen.” . Let us know what’s on your mind.Write to us atletters@reporter.am


10 The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008CommunityCommunity in briefColumbiaUniversitycourse to focuson HagopOshaganNEW YORK – Nanor Kenderian,who is starting this fall as assistantprofessor of Armenian studiesat Columbia University, will teacha course titled “Hagop Oshagan:Prison to Prison.” The course is advertisedas “an exploration of subjecthood,subjection, and subjectivityin Western-Armenian literature.”It will take the prison-themed novelsof Ottoman-Armenian writerHagop Oshagan (1883–1948) asits point of departure.Students will read Dostoyevsky,Hugo, Bakhtin, Lukács, and Foucaultalongside the works of otherArmenian writers. Special attentionwill be paid to the impact ofthe Armenian nationalist movementand representations of “theTurk.”agbu to hold“Debut Concert”at Carnegie HallNEW YORK – A concert willrecognize the achievements of talentedyoung Armenians who havebenefited from scholarship assistanceprovided by the agbu towardtheir studies in the performing arts.The concert, hosted by the agbuNew York Special Events Committee(nysec), will take place at WeillRecital Hall of New York’s CarnegieHall on Saturday, September 20 at8:30 p.m.Seventeen performers are collaboratingunder the artistic directionof Ani Kalayjian and SolangeMerdinian to prepare a repertoireof music celebrating Armenian andclassical composers. In addition,original compositions of several ofthe participating artists will be performedduring the concert.The performing artists includeseven pianists, Hayk Arsenyan(New York), Dr. Sarkis Baltaian(Los Angeles), Tigran Martikyan(New York), Sofya Melikyan (NewYork), Mariam Nazarian (Boston),Vardan Ovsepian (Boston),and Karine Poghosyan (NewYork); two violinists, AroussiakBaltaian (Los Angeles) and CeceePantikian (New York); a violist,Alexandr Nazaryan (New York);four cellists, Ani Kalayjian, LilitKurdiyan, Hrant Parsamian,and Kevork Parsamian (all ofNew York); a singer, mezzo-sopranoSolange Merdinian (NewYork); a French horn player, RaffiDimoian (New York); and threecomposers, Kevork Andonian(Los Angeles), Mr. Martikyan, andMr. Ovsepian.Proceeds from the concert willbenefit the AGBU scholarship programfor future performing artsstudents. Tickets are availablethrough the Carnegie BoxOffice,at CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800,and at www.carnegiehall.org. Artists’ BallparticipantsannouncedNEW YORK – The New Yorkbranch of the Armenian Students’Association (asa) announced theparticipating artists, 23 in all, forits upcoming Artists’ Ball, slatedfor Sept. 27 and 28 at Gallerie Icosahedronin TriBeca.They are Anet Abnous, NishanAkgulian, Eliz Alahverdian,Steve Altan, Zabel Artinian,Stephanie Basralian, AramComjean, Alain Fattal, HakobHakobyan, Kajik Hakobyan,Aram Kailian, Justin Kaladjian,Ara Kantardjian, Suzanne Karajaberlian,Eileen Karakashian-Zadourian, Mher Khachatryan,Angela Melikian-Jann, AstridMenatian, Kevork Mourad, SevanNaccashian, Simon Samsonian,Alan Semerdjian, and BarbaraYeterian.connect:www.asainc.org/artistsballSonya Nersessian, chairperson of theArmenian Bar Assoc.Armenian BarAssociationelects new boardNEW YORK – The ArmenianBar Association has named SonyaNersessian of Weston, Mass., aschairperson of the Board of Directorsfor the 2008–2009 year. An attorneywho concentrates her practiceon estate planning and trustand estate administration, Ms.Nersessian is joined on the ExecutiveBoard by Edvin Minassian ofGlendale, Calif., as vice chair, SaraBedirian of Beverly Hills, Calif., astreasurer, Christine Engustian ofEast Providence, R.I., as secretary,and Frank V. Zerunyan of RollingHills Estates, Calif., as ex-officioofficer.Also elected to the Board of Directorsduring the association’sAnnual Meeting in May in NewYork City were Armen Hovannisianof Sherman Oaks, Calif.,Garo Ghazarian of Encino, Calif.,Gary Moomjian of Jericho, N.Y.,and Martha Mensoian of NewYork.connect:www.armenianbar.orgEastern DioceseWomen’s Guild tohold symposiumon Mind Body,SpiritNEW YORK – “Mind, Body, Spirit”will be the theme of the fourthannual symposium sponsored bythe Women’s Guild Central Council,Diocese of the Armenian Church ofAmerica (Eastern). The gathering,to be held September 19–21 at theArarat Center in Greenville, N.Y.,will feature as keynote speaker psychotherapistAnie Kalayjian. Dr.Kalayjian is to share her thoughtson self-empowerment throughmovement, laughter, forgiveness,and love.A workshop will explore ways tobe an effective women, wife, and/ormother. Anna Bruno Loshigianwill seek to demystify no fewerthan 15 “financial myths.”In “Art Goes to the Symposium,”participants will learn about ArshileGorky; they will discuss inbook-club format Broken for You, byStephanie Kallos, learn dance stepswith Pat Butero, and try “Paintingwith Scissors: Creating a uniquecollage in the style of Henri Matisse,”led by Carol Loshigian.On Sunday, Rev. Fr. StepanosDoudoukjian will celebrate Badarak.See also a profile of wgcc’sChildren of Armenia SponsorshipProgram (casp) elsewhere in thisissue of the Armenian Reporter.More information is available fromLucy Murad at 703-517-6249 or lucyomurad@yahoo.comand LouiseDemirjian at 440-331-1668 or louiseotr@hotmail.com.Made in ArmeniaDirect opensretail storeMASHPEE, Mass. – Aftereight years of selling over awebsite and to wholesale buyers,Made in Armenia Direct hasopened its first retail store in theUnited States. The shop, calledArtisan Treasures, is located inSouth Cape Village in Mashpee,Mass.connect:www.MadeinArmeniaDirect.comHye Rollers arePhilly’s newhockey teamPHILADELPHIA – It startedwith a couple of guys talking hockey.They decided to start their ownteam. With the aid of phone calls,emails, text messaging, and Facebook,the Hye Rollers soon surfaced.It includes young men (ages 16to 26) with a mixed level of hockeyexperience from the five Armenianchurches in the Philadelphia area.The team, with makeshift uniformsand a strong cheering section,has yet to win a game. Butthey generate excitement. Armenia Festcelebrated inDetroit areaBIRMINGHAM, Mich. – OnJuly 23, Metro Detroit ArmeniansThe Armenia Fest2008 committee,from left, GregVartanian, RayBoujoulian, EdBedikian, ShirleySarkisian, KenKhezarjian,Edgar Hagopian(co-chair), JuneMcGregor (Cityof Birminghamofficial), SandieKnollenberg (nota committeemember), IrinaLazarian (fromArmenia FundUSA), CorinneKhederian (cochair),HagopAlexanian, DavidTerzibashian,MadelineThomasian, andRubik Mailian(not a committeemember; sanganthems).gathered in Birmingham for ArmeniaFest 2008.Committee members headed byEdgar Hagopian and CorinneKhederian decided last yearto host an Armenian festival indowntown Birmingham. The inaugural2007 event drew 2,500Armenians and non-Armenians.Impressed by the turnout, theCity of Birmingham invited thecommittee to host Armenia Fest2008.The committee joined forces withArmenia Fund USA, Inc. Proceedsfrom advertising sales and benefactorswere earmarked for theArmenia Fund Lori Region, OdzunCommunity Project. The organizershanded a check for $10,000 tothe fund. A pair of young peoplewho sold water and soda donatedtheir profits, $150.Highlights of the evening includeda performance by theHamazkayin Dance Troupe, ledby Nayiri Karapetian; Detroit’sAra Topouzian and his ensembleperformed Armenian music. MalBarsamian flew in especially toentertain the crowd with his clarinet.The crowds were so moved bythe sweet melodic tones echoingthroughout that both Armeniansand non-Armenians were line dancing beforethe stage. The Festival officiallyended at 10pm, however, it was clearthat everyone wished the magicalevening would go on forever. From left, top row, James Keshgegian, Alex Torcomian, Kyle McGettigan, Daniel Kaiserian, Ara Kailian, Raffi Hovagimian,Kevin Mullholland, John Baboujian; bottom row, Rob DerKrikiorian, Mike Torossian, Reed Lansinger, Chris Torcomian,Dave Leszczynski. Missing from the photo: Pete Tashjian.


The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008 11With Gratitude40th Anniversary of the Consecration ofSt. Vartan Armenian CathedralHis Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the ArmenianChurch of America (Eastern), would like to honor those individuals, both living and deceased,who were instrumental in the establishment of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral. On the occasionof the 40th anniversary of the consecration of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral, we acknowledgethe importance of these visionary individuals.Arbak A. Abdalian Byron BellIsahag Abrahamian†Sona AgazarianGhevont AghajanianOshin AghatonAram Alexanian†Edward Alexanian†Mary Alexanian & sonsSam Alexanian & sonsYervant AlexanianN. Ambarian†Ralph Anoushian†Jack AntreassianRev. Levon Arakelian†Nishan Arakian†Levon Arslanian†Garo Artinian†Dr. Fred Asadourian†Artin Aslanian†John AslanianJeannette AurslanianMesrob Avakian†Garabed AvanozianVagam Aydinian†J. Aylayan†John BabakianMrs. Perouz BabayanLevon BabayanK. Babigian†Dr. Armen BagdasaroffNona Balakian†Edward Balbalian†Shoushan BaliozianWalter J. Barber†Thomas BardakianHaik BaronianRobert BarrHagop BarsamianAlice BashianEdward Bashian†George Bashian†Aram Basmajian†Walter BebirianDr. Z. BedoukianHarry Bedrosian†Krikor Bendian†James BerberianMarie BosnoianEdward BournazianDikran BoyajianWalker O.CainKrikor ChakmakianJames Chankalian†Edward ChapianDiran ChapoorianSam Chapootian †Paul Chaputian†Jack Charshafian†N. CholakianJoseph Chorbajian†Anne DadaianAlex DadourianDadour Dadourian†Dicran Dadourian†Haig Dadourian†Jack DadourianA. DagavarianPeter DaghlianK. Danielian†Mary Davidian†Charles Davitian†Avedis Derounian†Steven B. Derounian†John Desteian†Kevork K. Devejian†Armine Dikijian†Araxie DilsizianHaik DilsizianMartin DonabedianDon A. Donelian†Leo DurgerianZareh EgavianDicranouhi EkizianHarry EkizianManoog Exerjian†Srpouhi Essefian†Alan M. Fenner†George A. Ferman†Souren Fesjian†Vartan GarabedianEdward GawlickiMessia GazurianRev. Fr. Garen GdanianBerj GarryAvedis Geljikian†Manase Gezurian†Garabed GhazarosianV. GizirianRichard K. Gregory†Haroutune GulbengianYervant GulbengianEdward GulbenkianV. Rev. Fr. Muron Gurtikian†Leo Hagopian†Vahan HagopianYervant HagopianBp. Zkon Hagopian†Hajk HamparianAram HaroutunianJ. HatinlianJack Hatounian†H. HazenjianCapt. Dicran Hazerjian†Harry HedisonHenry HedisonLevon HekimianHarry Hintlian†Isabel HoogasianK. HorasangiPuzant HovasapianAbp. Vatche HovsepianMilton IgnasiusHagop Ipjian†Jack Ipjian†Mrs. Jack IpjianSiranoush IsbenjianAram Jaboolian†Sarkis Janjikian†Aram JerjerianAra JilajianHovsep JorbajianCol. George JuskalianSiranoosh KachoonyVahan KachoonyJoseph KalemkerianZarouhie Kalemkerian†Krikor KaloustianZareh Kapikian†Arshag KarageuzianC. KarageuzianSrpouhi KaragheusianJack KaragosianJohn KarakamianHagop Kasakian†Alice Kavookjian†Haik Kavookjian†Col. Carnig Kay†Isabelle Kay†Baghdasar KazazianVahram KebabjianDikran Khan KelegianAvedis Keljikian†Onnig KemanjianMesrob KermanikianA. KetikianSarkis KeuzpeyanSamuel V. KeyianArsha KhachadourianShnork KilabjianSam KollikianBarbara KoulakjianArshaloys KouyoumjianDicran KouyoumjianGeorge KouzouianGarabed KouzoujianArsham Kradjian†Kegham Kradjian†Krikor KrikorianGeorge Krikorian†Zabelle KrikorianY. Kurkjian†A. Leylegian†H. Mangasarian†Zareh ManigianAlex Manoogian†Alice ManoogianHaig A. ManoogianAbp. Sion Manoogian†Abp. Torkom ManoogianSooren Manuelian†Albert Mardirosian†Taft MardirossianDena Anne MarkarianYeghia Martarian†Echia Martayan†Y. MartayanGeorge J. Masumian†Yervant Mavian†Rev. Fr. Vartan Megherian†Zaven MelikSouren Mekenian†Aram Mendikian†Samuel Mitchell Melkon, Jr.†Aram Mendikian†Stephen Merjanian†Mike Mgerdichian†Armen Minasian†Dr. Vartkes Migrdichian†Dikran Missirlian†A. MundikianVahan Najarian†Albert Nargizian†Armen NasibHarry Nazarian†Nazar NazarianAbp. Tiran Nersoyan†Ann Abajian-NorehadBedros Norehad†Hagop NorianAvedia OhanianAntoine Ohnikian†Nvart Ohnikian†Apkar G. OmartianSatenik OurianKrikor PapazianPeter Piranian, Jr.†Puzant PiranianGeorge SamosianArmenia SarafianSarkis SarafianRobert SarafianRobert Sarian†Mardiros SarkisianHagop Sarkissian†Kurk SayianArax Selvinazian†George G. Semerjian†Shavarsh Sevhonkian†Lud Shahbazian†Antranik Shahinian†Karnig ShakarjianCarnig ShenloogianVahan SimonianDicran Simsarian†A. SinamianAraxi SinanianPeter SourianDr. L. StuartDr. Stephen Svajian†Haik Tashjian†Aghavni Tatosian†Harry Tatosian†Kaspar Tatosian†Arpena TavitianH. TepikianJ. TopalianE. ToukhmanianYervant TouloukianSam Turekian†Zohrab Turekian†Edouard Utudjian†Michael Vahradian†Haik VartabedianWalter Vartan†George Vetzigian†Armenag Voskian†Nishan VoskianHarry Yardum†Vincent Yardum†Martin Yazmajian†Ovsia YeremianArdemis ZakianH. ZakianGen. Sarkis Zartarian†Frank Zotian††-DeceasedShould you notice any names missing from this list, or should you have any information about the descendants of these founders of the Cathedral, pleasecontact: stvartan40th@armeniandiocese.org or call (212) 686-0710, ext. 160.The 40th anniversary commemoration of the consecration of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral will take place on October 12, 2008 at which time the HolyMuron from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin will be distributed to our parishes. Divine Liturgy will be celebrated by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian beginningat 10:30 a.m. followed by a Requiem Service for all of the deceased godfathers and committee members who played a part in the planning of ourCathedral. A celebratory luncheon will take place in the Haik and Alice Kavookjian Hall following services where all individuals who participated in the establishmentof St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral will be honored. Reservations for the luncheon can be made by sending a $40 check (payable to Dioceseof the Armenian Church) to: Mrs. Lorraine Marootian, 774 Butternut Dr., Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417.Commemorative bracelets honoring the 40th anniversary of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral are available in silver or gold either at the Cathedral or by orderingdirectly from www.AlexandAni.com.


12 The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008ArmeniaThe National Olympic Team of ArmeniaWeightliftingTigran G.MartirosianBorn on June 9, 1988Weight: 69 kgAchievements: 2008European champion.Ara KhachatrianBorn on September 13, 1982Weight: 77 kgAchievements: 2006 Worldchampionship bronzemedalist, 2008 Europeanchampionship silvermedalist.Gevorg DavtianBorn on January 4, 1983Weight: 77 kgAchievements: 2007World championshipsilver medalist, Europeanchampion.Edgar GevorgianBorn on May 21, 1982Wight: 85 kgAchievements: 5thplace, 2008 Europeanchampionship.Tigran V. MartirosianBorn on March 3, 1983Weight: 85 kgAchievements: 2006 Worldchampionship bronzemedalist, 2008 Europeanchampion.Hripsime KhurshudianBorn on July 27, 1987Wight: 75 kgAchievements: 2006 Worldchampionship bronzemedalist, 2007 Europeanchampion.Greco-Roman WrestlingFree style wrestlingRoman AmoianBorn on September3, 1983Weight: 55 kgAchievements:2006 Europeanchampion,2008 Europeanchampionshipsilver medalist.KarenMnatsakanianBorn on March 3, 1977Weight: 60 kgAchievments: 2002World championshipsilver medalist, 2006European champion.Martin BerberianBorn on May 22, 1980Weight: 60 kgAchievements: 2005 Europeanchampion, 2006 WorldChampionship – bronzemedalist.ArsenJulfalakianBorn on May 8,1987Weight: 74 kgAchievements:Winner of the2007 World JuniorChampionship.Denis ForovBorn on December 3,1984Weight: 84 kgAchievements:2006 EuropeanChampionship silvermedalist.Souren MarkosianBorn on September 17, 1984Weight: 66 kgAchievements: 5th place, 2006European Championship.Arman AdikianBorn on November10, 1984Weight: 66 kgAchievements: 5thplace, 2007 WorldChampionship.Yuri PatrikeevBorn on September28, 1979Weight: 120 kgAchievements: 2007World Championshipbronze medalists,2008 Europeanchampion.Haroutun YenokianBorn on May 7, 1985Weight: 84 kgAchievements: 2006 WorldYouth Championship bronzemedalist.


The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008 13ArmeniaThe National Olympic Team of ArmeniaBoxingJudoHovhannesDanielianBorn on April 11,1987Weight: 48 kgAchievements:2006 EuropeanChampionshipbronze medalist.Hrachia JavakhianBorn on July 6, 1984Weight: 60 kgAchievements:2006 EuropeanChampionship silvermedalist.Hovhannes DavtianBorn on November 25, 1983Weight: 60 kgAchievements: 2007 Europeanchampionship silver medalist.Edward HambardzoumianBorn on February23, 1986Weight: 64 kgAchievements: 5thplace, 2007 WorldChampionship.Andranik HakobianBorn on October 6,1981Weight: 75 kgAchievements: 5thplace, 2005 WorldChampionship.Armen NazarianBorn on June 20, 1982Weight: 66 kgAchievements: 2006European championshipsilver medalist.ShootingTrack and FieldNorair BakhtamianBorn on November 1, 1970Achievements: 2006 EuropeanChampionship silver medalist.Melik JanoianBorn on March 24,1985Achievements:Winner at the 2007European Cupjavelin competition.Ani KhachikianBorn on March 16,1991Achievements:2008 champion ofArmenia in 100 mrun.Swimming• Armen Nazarian (Bulgaria)60kg Greco-Roman Wrestling.• Artyom Shaloyan (Germany)69kg Weightlifting.•Ara Abrahamyan (Sweden)84kg Greco-Roman Wrestling.Michael KoloianBorn on June 21, 1983Weight: 60 kgAchievements: Multiple championof Armenia, record holder.Armenian athletes participating on behalf ofother countries for the Beijing Olympic Games• Varteris Samurghashev (Russia)74kg Greco-Roman Wrestling.• David Nalbandian (Argentina)Tennis.•Know of any others?Write news@reporter.amGevorg Davtyan is Armenia’s champion weightlifterYEREVAN – Armenia has great expectationsfrom Gevorg Davtyanat the Beijing Olympics. He is theWord Weightlifting Vice-Champion.The young man with determinationand unbendable will inhis eyes has already lived throughthe ups and downs of professionalsports and has emerged as a leadingathlete in the world of weightlifting.Like all children, Gevog went toschool in his native Gyumri, butunfortunately he did not have thechance to enjoy a carefree childhood- he was 5 years-old whenthe 1988 earthquake took hismother’s life and destroyed hishome. Gevorg’s father, a weightliftingcoach, was left to care forthe child and often took Gevorgto sporting events. This is whereGevorg’s childhood curiosity withsports evolved into fascination.He began training when he was 11years-old and as he became moreand more captivated by the sport,the difficult life of an athlete, completewith deprivations took overhis life. Vahan Bichakhyan, anacclaimed master of the sport,was entrusted to coach Gevorgtowards a professional athletic career.Vahan, continues to stand byand guide Gevorg.Gevorg became Armenia’s NationalYouth Weightlifting championand was included in theNational Youth Team. He first appearedon the international sportsarena in 1999, in Ligano, Italywhere he became European YouthWeightlifting Champion and seta world record. Two years later,in Salonika, Greece, Gevorg wasrecognized as the World YouthWeightlifting Champion. Aroundthis time, the Weightlifting Federationof Armenia decided to revitalizethe National WeightliftingTeam by recruiting younger forces.This was the beginning of a newphase in Gevorg’s life. Being a partof the adult sports world, whereeverything is more serious thanin youth competitions, was noeasy transition. Last year’s EuropeanChampionship in Strasbourg,France was Gevorg’s debut and atest of his determination andmuscle strength. The final fightfor the champion’s title in the77kg weight category narroweddown to a contest between twoArmenians form Gyumri; GevorgDavtyan and Ara Khachatryan.The Armenian athletes deprivedthe Turkish Olympic championeven of the chance to come in second.The champion’s title and histeammate’s unreserved congratulationswere eventually Davtyan’s.At the World Championship thatsame year Davtyan performedwith injuries and still broughthome a silver medal.What is the secret of Davtyan’ssuccess? Is it hard work and endlesstraining as many believe? “Notat all,” says Pashig Alaverdyan,an acclaimed coach. “No doubt,Gevorg is talented and nature hasgranted him incredible strengthbut at the same time he is one ofthose rare people who know howto redistribute their strength duringtraining. He does not trainblindly and uses technique ratherthan strength. This is what makeshis performances so special,” sayscoach Alaverdian.And, finally, one last importantfact - Gevorg is in the best shapeof his career and has gone to theOlympics determined to win.Good luck!f


14 The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008Communityagbu donates $350,000 to Loyola’s Center for the Study of Lawand GenocideLOS ANGELES – The LoyolaLaw School announced that itsnewly created Center for theStudy of Law and Genocide hasreceived a $350,000 donationfrom the Armenian General BenevolentUnion (agbu). The donationis part of charitable contributionsmade to the agbu fromthe Armenian Insurance SettlementFund.The settlement fund resultedfrom the efforts of attorneys MarkJ. Geragos, Brian S. Kabateck(both alumni of Loyola), and VartkesYeghiayan, whose litigationYou share the samecommunity. Discover whathappens when you sharethe same experience.Visit us atreporter.amagainst New York Life and Frenchinsurance company axa for unpaidclaims arising from the 1915 ArmenianGenocide secured $37.5 millionfor victims and Armenian charities.Previously, Loyola alumnusBerj Boyajian, along with Geragos,Kabateck, and Yeghiayan, presentedthe school with $100,000from the settlement fund to createthe Center for the Study ofLaw and Genocide. Through theefforts of Kabateck and Boyajian,an additional $350,000 has beenraised, thus bringing the totalfunding to $800,000, the schoolFor more information aboutRelay For Life and Paint the TownPurple, or to find an event near you,visit www.cancer.org/relayNYNJor call 1.800.ACS.2345.1.800.ACS.2345www.cancer.org/relayNYNJsaid. “Loyola Law School tremendouslyappreciates the workof all involved,” stated AssistantDean of Development Ken Ott.“Berj [Boyajian], also an adjunctprofessor, and the rest of theteam have given so much back toLoyola and the future legal community.”According to Loyola, the Centerfor the Study of Law and Genocidewill launch in early 2009 witha genocide-law class. It will focuson promoting legal scholarshipon genocide and mass violationsof human rights, with a particularconcentration on improving the accessibilityand effectiveness of legalresources and remedies. It willalso provide training to currentand future legal practitioners inusing existing remedies, domesticand international, to help victimsof genocide and mass violations ofhuman rights achieve a measure ofjustice.The center will offer regular symposiaand will include an academicchair on genocide law and policy,support for internships with institutionsengaged in litigationon related matters, and the establishmentof a genocide- and massatrocities-law clinic.“Genocide proved to be the trueplague of the 20th century and tragicallyappears likely to infect the 21st,”said Professor Stan Goldman, directorof the center. “The goal of theprogram is to inform young lawyersof potential causes of action availableto them in hope of bringing amodicum of recompense to thosewho survive, as well some degree ofjustice for those who perished.” connect:lls.eduArmenia’s Escada Dance Troupe toperform in FresnoFRESNO, Calif. – The PilgrimArmenian CongregationalChurch of Fresno announcedthat it will host a performance bythe Escada Folk Dance Troupeof Gyumri on Sunday, August 17,at 2:00 p.m.The concert will be preceded by alunch on the grounds of the churchat 12:30 p.m.The 14-member Escada ensembleis part of a youth dance programsponsored by the ArmenianEvangelical Church of Gyumri.Consisting of dancers from 12 to14 years old, the troupe has performedthroughout Armenia andearned gold and silver awards invarious folk-festival competitions.The Escada dancers will visitCentral California from August 15through 18. Individuals and businessesinterested in sponsoringtheir stay may contact the PilgrimArmenian Congregational Church.The church campus is located at3673 North First Street at GarlandAvenue.connect:(559) 229-2915(559) 349-6600cenvalleyhyecalendar@mac.comPosition Sought52-year-old gentleArmenian woman seeksemployment caring forelderly.Live-in or Live out.N. Lael Telfeyan, Ph.D., LCSWCounseling and Psychotherapywith Individuals, Families and CouplesAdults and AdolescentsPlease call Elsa,(347) 782-4811140 West 97th St.New York, NY 10025By appointment 917-975-310924 Windsor RoadGreat Neck, NY 11021e-mail: nlael@aol.comST. ILLUMINATOR’S ARMENIAN SCHOOLOPEN FOR REGISTRATIONWoodside, New York. St. Illuminator’s Armenian school has began its registration process for the new2008-2009 academic year.Now entering its 32 nd year, St. Illuminator’s has provided quality education in all the English language elementaryschool requisites while maintaining strong ties with the Armenian language, history and culture. Graduates ofthe school have gone on to become successful students and professionals in all fields.A staff of dedicated teachers is looking forward to welcoming back its students and new registrants to the schoolon Monday, September the 8 th , 2008.For information, please visit our website www.stilluminatorschool.org or call school office at (718) 478-4073.LAW OFFICE OF SOUREN A. ISRAELYAN39 Broadway, Suite 950, New York, New York 10006(646) 459-7556 or (718) 751-5254Representing people who have suffered catastrophic injuriesConstruction accidentsSlip/trip and fallsDefective productsTrain/airplane accidentsNursing home negligenceCar/bus/truck accidentsElevator/escalator accidentsFire and explosionNegligent supervision/securityAnimal attacksAlso speaks Armenian and Russian


The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008 15CommunityHayr Oshagan Minassian built a musical dynastyby Tom VartabedianWATERTOWN, Mass. – FatherOshagan Minassian served as aliving legend in the Armenian musicaland spiritual community.He firmly believed that one facetwas contingent upon the other– that the word of God was best perpetuatedby the lyrics that sprungfrom his heart. Both remained resoluteto the very end, despite beingconfined to a wheelchair.Hayr Oshagan, as he was affectionatelyknown, died July 26, justa week short of his 78th birthday,leaving behind a legacy virtuallyunmatched by others in his hallowedcircle.I also remember him as the manwith a quip, a humorous anecdotethat sent conversations spinningwith levity. He often opened hisdialogue with one of his gems. “DidI even tell you about the one…?”And off he’d go on a tangent thatsent his listener chuckling, eventhough it may have been repeatedtime and again.There was also the serious side.The year was 1955 and a newlyordained Armenian priest decidedto go for a swim at Salisbury Beach.He removed his robe on a brightsummer’s day and dove into thechilly ocean, hitting an obstaclethat left him a quadriplegic.Calendar of EventsThe spinal cord injury may haverobbed the affable cleric of his legsand body, but not his zest for life.Over the past 53 years, he provedthe consummate Armenian musicalimpresario as conductor of thepopular Erevan Choral Society.Similar chorales have come andgone in our midst, but this one remainedsteadfast over the past 44years and never showed any signsof regression. Credit Hayr Oshaganas the guardian and keeper of hishouse.A June concert I had attended atWaltham High School drew a capacitycrowd, despite the torrential rain.The fact it was complimentary admissionmight have been the reason,for Hayr Oshagan seldom charged.He believed good Armenian musiccould never be sold, much lessbought, and didn’t believe in usingfinances as a deterrent to promoteculture.Seated in the audience on thisparticular day, still showing pride,was his 90-year-old mother Sirvart,a Genocide survivor, who nevermissed a single concert.As 55 singers appeared – accompaniedby an orchestra of 20 – oncame Hayr Oshagan, pulling hiswheelchair to the forefront and givingthe crowd a humble wave, typicalof his style.The next two hours featured acentennial tribute to famed composerAram Khachaturian.The maestro was well into his 70sand appeared to have defied the elementsof age and restriction. Hislife had not been an easy one sincethe accident.Hayr Oshagan made it look easy.We chatted on the phone a day orso following the concert. After gettingpast a joke or two, Hayr Oshaganrevealed the secrets to his success.“I made a promise to myself that Iwould pursue three goals,” he said.“I would get help in the religioussector, seek out medical assistance,and further my education.”At the time, Hayr Oshagan wasserving as pastor of Holy CrossChurch in Lawrence, following hiseducation at Antelias and ordinationin Jerusalem. Tragedy struckearly with the loss of his fatherwhen he was 18.Sensing a need to perpetuateArmenian music, he founded hischorale in 1966. They came from allsectors of community and churchlife, young and old. What he hadfor enrollment back then was whatthere was now.Throughout his tenure, Hayr Oshaganalso served as choir director ofHoly Trinity Church in Cambridge,which is associated with the group.“I used to play violin before theaccident and went to the BostonConservatory,” he divulged. “In thebeginning, I regretted the accidentand wondered why I was the chosenone. Then, why not me?”Education had been Hayr Oshagan’spotion, beginning in 1962when he secured a masters degreein religious education from BostonUniversity, followed by a secondmasters in music and doctorate inhistory from the same institution.A second doctorate was cut shortby the need for a dissertation.“My mother had difficulty walkingand couldn’t transport me anylonger,” he told me. “I was forced toterminate my schooling, much tomy regret. My mother has alwaysbeen there for me.”So, too, was his sister, Alice Palanjian,who often acted as his escort.Not to be outdone, that dissertationremained in the works – a historyof the Armenian Church in America.At the time, Hayr Oshagan was alsocompiling a history of Armenian musicstemming from ancient times.A visit to his home in Watertownrevealed a vast library of books andresearch documents, much of itgained over the Internet. His daywasn’t complete without making atleast a dozen phone calls to isolatedelderly throughout the community,offering words of cheer and comfort.“Music is a panacea,” he emphasized.“When I sing, it’s like prayingtwice. It gives my chorus the opportunityto display their emotionsthrough lyrics.”The Khachaturian concert was verymuch a tribute to the late composerthat night. But there was more.Hayr Oshagan turned it into amemorial tribute marking the recentdeaths of pianist David Azarianand Boston University ProfessorJohn Daverio, who served six yearsas concertmaster to the ErevanChoral Society.There was more to a concert thanjust waving your arms. With HayrOshagan, it was the producing,groundwork and formalities likeadvertising and public relations,fundraising and being a “godfather”to each member of his troupe.He made it a point to weave 55 personalitiesinto a unified sound, caterto every whim, and be there regardlessof severe weather or health. Onenight he showed up in a snowstormto perform an Armenian Christmasconcert because he didn’t want tolet his audience down.“Every rehearsal is like a wedding,”he brought out. “Every concert isanother rehearsal for me. I sometimesmelt in my own ecstasy.”The hand that guided the musichas been laid to rest after promotingsome of life’s greatest virtueslike love, tenderness, and a rich Armenianheritage.Hayr Oshagan always had a placeof prominence in our society. Hehad the best seat in the house – andit kept moving all the time. New YorkAUGUST 17 - Sunday —Armenian-AmericanNight 7:00 P.M.Free Concert at Harry ChapinLakeside Theater, EisenhowerPark, East Meadow, L.I. featuringInternational Singer KARNOand Akhtamar Dance Ensemble.SEPTEMBER 13 - ANCA EasternRegion Annual Banquet inNew York. Mark your calendarfor the Second Annual Banquetsponsored by the Armenian NationalCommittee of America,Eastern Region. Cocktails andsilent auction followed by dinnerand special awards program.The Grand Hyatt, 109 East 42ndStreet at Grand Central Terminal,New York. Tickets $250. Mention“ANC Banquet” for special hotelroom rate (limited availability).More details to follow.SEPTEMBER 14 - Annual ArmenianFestival at The ArmenianChurch of the Holy Martyrs,209-15 Horace Harding Expwy,Bayside, NY. Noon until dark,rain or shine. Free admission.Live music by the Artsakh Bandand performances by the HyeBar and Aradzani dance groups.Assorted kebabs and temptingdelicacies. Rides and games forchildren, street vendors andfree blood pressure screening.For more info, call church office(718) 225-0235.SEPTEMBER 27-28 - NY ArmenianStudents’ Associationpresents 59th Annual Artists’Ball. Famed art exhibit. GallerieIcosahedron, TriBeca, Manhattan.More detals to come.SEPTEMBER 28 - 79TH ANNI-VERSARY CELEBRATION AND22ND ANNUAL PILGRIMAGETO THE SHRINE OF CHARKHA-PAN SOORP ASDVADZADZIN.Solemn Divine Liturgy celebratedby His Eminence ArchbishopYeghishe Gizirian, with theparticipation of Zvartnotz andGomidas Choirs, 10:30 a.m. SpecialProgram Honoring Rev. Fr.Arten Ashjian on the 60th Anniversaryof his Ordination. Banquetand special performance bynoted pianist Karine Poghosyanfollowing church services in theKachajian Auditorum. 1:00 P.M.Holy Cross Church of Armenia,580 W. 187th St., NYC. Donation:$35.00.SEPTEMBER 28 - Pianist SA-HAN ARZRUNI and friends willpresent “INS & OUTS: Armeniancomposers of Asia Minor,”on Sunday at 3:00 PM, September28, at Merkin Hall, 129 W.67 St, NYC. The event celebratesthe 175 anniversary of the foundationof Surp Prgich ArmenianNational Hospital in Istanbul.Tickets are available throughMerkin box office (212 501 3330,credit cards are accepted), Arto(718 937 7660) and Araxie (201227 9615).OCTOBER 24 - CHILDREN OFARMENIA FUND’s 5th AnnualSave a Generation Awards Dinnerat Cipriani 42nd St., NYC.www.coafkids.org.Westchester, NYAUGUST 17 - ANNUAL SUM-MER PICNIC AT ST. GREGORYTHE ENLIGHTENER ARME-NIAN CHURCH, 1131 NorthStreet, White Plains, NY. Noonto 6:00 p.m. Rain or shine. Freeadmission. Live music and dancingto the renowned MichaelGostanian Band. Lamb, chicken,and luleh kebob, various pastriesand home-made desserts,50/50 raffle, supervised children’sactivities. Easy travel viaHutchinson River Parkway toExit 25. Church is 1/2 block onNorth Street (opposite MapleMoor Golf Course). For information,call church office, (914)428-2595 - Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.New JerseyAUGUST 17 - STS. VARTAN-ANTZ ANNUAL CHURCHPICNIC & BLESSING OF THEGRAPES CEREMONY — Sunday,1-5pm at DunkerhookPark, off Paramus Road, Paramus,NJ. All are welcome toenjoy delicious Foods and Desserts,music, playground forthe kids!SEPTEMBER 12 - COMEDIANKEV ORKIAN from Londonperforms his raucous one-manpiano comedy show at the 2ndAnnual ANCA ER Pre Banquetfall social. Doors open at 8 p.m.Post-bar party to follow. At theGrand Hyatt in New York City.For tickets and information andto purchase tickets please visitwww.anca.org/erbanquet or call(201) 233-9809.SEPTEMBER 17 - Emerson, NJ- FAH (Friends of the ArmenianHome) Neiman Marcus FashionShow/Luncheon, Garden StatePlaza, Paramus, NJ. Fashionpresentation at 11:00 am followedby a luncheon. For reservations,please contact Mrs.Karen Nargizian at 201/560-9787 or Mrs. MaryAnne Bonjuklianat 201/934-8930. The ticketsare $85. per person. Seating islimited so please reserve early,RSVP by Sept. 3, 2008.SEPTEMBER 25 - River Vale,NJ. Sts. Vartanantz Church 6thAnnual Golf Outing. River ValeCountry Club. Lunch, Dinner,Golf and More. Shotgun startat 12:45pm. For reservationsor more info please call : MarkAlashaian 201-483-3200, RichKrikorian 201-664-6885, SarkisShirinian 201-307-0825 or theChurch Office 201- 943-2950.SEPTEMBER 28 – ST. LEONWOMEN’S GUILD 80TH ANNI-VERSARY BANQUET at St. LeonArmenian Church, 12-61 SaddleRiver Road, Fair Lawn, 07410.Banquet immediately followingchurch services in Abajian Hall,Church Community Center. Allare welcome to honor this greatmilestone. Come enjoy deliciousfood, great entertainment andshare in our special celebration.Contact Grace Pinajian for reservationsfor this historical event at201-891-5420. Reservations willbe taken until September 15th.OCTOBER 3 & 4 - Save the Date!Hamazkayin of New Jersey presents:For the 40th Anniversary ofNJ Chapter and 80th Anniversaryof Hamazkayin - Cultural Seminar- Armenian Movie Screening,Literary Competition, Identityand the Armenian YouthOCTOBER 4 - AGBU ANTRA-NIG DANCE ENSEMBLE presents“Repertoire: 2008.” Hostedby the Columbia University ArmenianClub at Columbia UniversityRoone Arledge Auditorium,2920 Broadway, New York.8pm. Tickets available now. (347)837-5342.OCTOBER 25 - Gala celebrationof the 50th Anniversary of thePrelacy of the Armenian ApostolicChurch of America underthe jurisdiction of the GreatHouse of Cilicia and the 110thanniversary of the establishmentof the Armenian Churchin America. Marriott at Glenpointe,Teaneck, New Jersey.Details to follow.Subscription Couponthe armenianreporterannual ratesU.S.A.: First Class Mail, $125; Periodicals Mail, $75Canada: $125 (u.s.); Overseas: $250 (u.s.)namestreetcity/state/zipMassachusettsSEPTEMBER 21 - Celebrationof New Independent Republic byLowell ARF Committee, 1 p.m., Sts.Vartanantz Church, 180 WestfordRoad, Chelmsford, MA; New Englandpremiere of Apo Torosyan’sdocumentary film “The MorganthauStory.” Dinner and program.Free admission, compliments ofJeknavorian family.Buenos Aires,ArgentinaNOVEMBER 9 - 12 - “ArmenianWomen Interacting in WorldwideArenas,” Armenian InternationalWomen’s Association’s5th International Conference,Sheraton Libertador Hotel. Info:AiwaInc@aol.com, 617-926-0171,310-472-2454.Check Enclosed OR Charge My:Mastercard Visa Amex DiscoverExp.mail coupon to: armenian reporterp.o. box 129, paramus, nj 07652orfax coupon to (201) 226-1660(credit card orders only)


16 The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008CommunityParticipants in the 2007 Friendship GamesGlendale Friendship Games provide commonground for communityEvent celebratesdiversity, unity, andsportsmanshipby Anna MargaryanGLENDALE, Calif. – Sports isthe universal language of choice forthe Homenetmen Glendale AraratChapter as it helps unite the Glendalecommunity with its third annualGlendale Friendship Games.To be held at Glendale High Schoolon October 18 and 19, the event isfast becoming a tradition in Glendale,as hundreds of athletes anda slew of supportive friends andfamily members come together fortwo days of friendly competition, alifetime of memories, and a lastingsense of community solidarity.The goal of the Friendship Games,the brainchild of the Ararat ChapterBoard of Directors, is twofold.It seeks to promote interest insports and, more importantly, fosterunity and harmony within thecommunity.“I think our obligation goes beyondour members,” said AraratChapter Board of Directors Vice-Chair Serge Grakasian, commentingon the chapter’s motivationin establishing the games in 2006.“We would love to promote sportsto and for our kids and members,but as a community organizationI think we are obligated to providesome service to the community atlarge,” Grakasian continued. “It’sgood for us to not only get involvedin the Armenian community, butbeyond it. We are part of the city.”Although sports are the mediumthat draws Glendale residents tothe Friendship Games, it is thecombination of kinship, familial atmosphere,and desire to celebratediversity that has kept them comingback for three years.Pictures really are worth a thousandwords. Photographs of the2006 and 2007 games show a sea ofblue, white, and gold as individualsof all ages and backgrounds weartheir Ararat logo T-shirts and teamcolors with pride, humility, andfriendship.The Friendship Games may notbe the Olympics, but even in theirinfancy they have managed tocapture the hearts and draw thetalents of over 3,000 Glendale residentsand over 850 athletes, whocame to watch and participate insix different sports during the 2006and 2007 events.With an affordable participationfee of $20 per player and no admissionfee, the Friendship Gamesoffer Glendale residents, wearyof their daily routines and hecticlifestyles, an interactive family experiencewhere the competition isfriendly, diversity is welcomed, andharmony is the order of the day.Homenetmen has thought ofevery angle to ensure that sportsthat draw a respectably smaller,but dedicated, following than moremainstream sports are showcasedat the Friendship Games. Thisyear’s lineup of sports includesrhythmic gymnastics, table tennis,basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis,and chess. While some of thesesports are among the most popularin the world, others – such asrhythmic gymnastics, table tennis,and chess – aren’t as widely playedor showcased.For avid table tennis players andfans, the Organizing Committeehas applied for a sanction so thatindividuals interested in participatingin an official table tennis matchand improving their ranking withinthat sport can try their hand at theFriendship Games.“We’ve tried to have a good mixof team sports and individualsports, and the ones that we haveare the ones that we think willgive more people the capability tocome and participate,” said OrganizingCommittee Co-Chair EdwinMoossaian.While chess may be the ultimatechallenge for a new generation ofaspiring Bobby Fishers or GaryKasparovs, one of the highlightsof the Friendship Games continuesto be soccer. At least nine differentsoccer groups, including aysoRegion 88 and the Crescenta ValleySoccer Club, will battle it outthis year for the coveted first- andsecond-place medals. However, dueto time and space constraints, theinitial soccer tournaments will beheld at the Ararat Center, beginningin late September, and run forapproximately four to five weeks.Young AmbassadorsThe games may be the main attraction,but it is the group of teensbehind the promotion of the eventthat is drawing much of the attentionthis year. The OrganizingCommittee has taken a fresh approachto marketing the FriendshipGames by utilizing a group ofsix high-school students, knownas the Young Ambassadors, to promotethe event at a grassroots level.Led by athlete and soccer coach AniGhazikhanian, the Young Ambassadorsspread the word at localschool and athletic events, in additionto appealing to the GlendaleCity Council and Glendale UnifiedSchool District for endorsements.Ghazikhanian has already recruitedsix soccer teams and the GlendaleHigh School tennis team to participatein the upcoming FriendshipGames.“We have a different strategy toattract people to the games,” saidArlet Davoodian, a member ofthe Ararat Chapter’s Public RelationsCommittee. “We have Aniand her friends going to differentlocations and promoting thegames, whereas in the past it wasjust the committee members andflyers. Hopefully the turnout willbe much better this year becauseour strategies and marketing havetotally changed.”Grakasian is optimistic aboutthis dynamic publicity tactic. Hebelieves that it will change the faceof the games by generating unprecedentedawareness and interestwithin the larger community.“I hope it will work and I thinkthat it’s working because morepeople will know about the games,”an enthusiastic Grakasian said. “Atleast the word is out. We want toget good participation for the sakeof participation, not for our sake.If the community is involved and[people] at least come and watch,then it’s also a positive thing.”The Friendship Games have notonly become a fixture among localArmenians, but are increasinglygaining a foothold within the largerand more diverse Glendale communityand surrounding areas.Ironing out the detailsThe scene at the games – hundredsof cheering spectators, bright-eyedkids, and talented young athletespursuing big sports dreams andreveling in the spotlight – mightmake one almost forget that thereis extensive behind-the-sceneswork involved in the organizationof such a big event. The process germinateswithin the confines of theArarat Center conference room inlate February or early March, whenthe design of the games is laid outand continues to be improved uponand fine-tuned for the next sevento eight months. The task at handmay seem arduous, but membersof the Organizing Committee seemto view it as a labor of love thathelps bring their dream of communitysolidarity to fruition. TheFriendship Games are a gift theArarat Chapter has been giving thecity for the past three years, withno strings attached.If a recent Organizing Committeemeeting is any indication of theatmosphere that will pervade theFriendship Games in October, thenthe games promise to be thoroughlyengaging, light-hearted, and fun.Sitting around the conferencetable with four of the five Committeemembers – Grakasian, co-chairsMoossaian and Sako Hemelian,junior member Ghazikhanian, andunofficial member Arlet Davoodian– it’s evident that there is a lot ofheart, commitment, camaraderie,and dedication in the room, not tomention a great deal of laughter. Ifthere’s a unanimous message thatresonates here, it is that the committeeand the Friendship Gamesalike welcome involvement from allcommunity members.The scene at the Ararat Center todayresembles that which one willlikely find at the games in October,with staff members bustling backand forth, young athletes outfittedin various forms of athletic dressgoing to and from practice, andsupportive parents at their kids’side.Every aspect of the games is designedto meet the needs and interestsof the community and enjoysa great deal of support from cityorganizations and local corporations.The Friendship Games enjoythe assistance of the Glendale UnifiedSchool District and the City ofGlendale as well as sponsorshipsby Wells Fargo, the Glendale NewsPress, Charter Communications,Pacific BMW, and other big-namedonors.Even the closing ceremonieshave become a spectacle, withcity officials, members of theschool district, and Ararat-Chaptermembers donning basketballuniforms to play in a friendly, butequally competitive, game of basketball.“Come play,” Ghazikhanian candidlysuggested to me, ignitinga spark of good-natured laughterthroughout the room, when Iasked for her closing commentson the Friendship Games. Thoughshort and sweet, the words of theactive teen – who rushes fromcommittee meeting to soccerpractice before resuming her recruitingduties at Crescenta ValleyHigh School – encompass thelarger goals of the OrganizingCommittee because they encourageGlendale’s diverse populationto set aside its differences and givein to the adrenaline-fueled exhilarationof playing sports and beingspectators.The Glendale Friendship Gamesare truly a community affair. Fortwo days in October, Glendalewill become blind to race, class,and ethnicity, and embrace harmonyborn out of a shared loveof sports.The Glendale Friendship GamesOrganizing Committee has establisheda website, araratgfg.com,where individuals and teams interestedin participating in the eventcan obtain registration forms anddetailed information.


The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008 17ArmeniaHamazkayin Forum gives a taste of Armeniaby Betty Panossian-TerSarkissianYEREVAN – Every year for thepast 14 years, the Hamazkayin ArmenianEducational and CulturalSociety has brought college-agedArmenians to Yerevan to take partin the Hamazkayin Forum. FromJuly 13 to 27 this year, 29 young Armeniansgot a taste of everythingArmenian.Fewer participants, thesame excitementThis year there were fewer participantsin the forum than in previousyears. More than a dozen youngpeople from various U.S. cities havetaken part every past year; but thisyear only four people came. ZepureHovhannessian, one of the forumsupervisors from Orange County,California, believes the politicalturmoil in Armenia may have beena cause as some parents had safetyconcerns. She adds that when inlate spring many more wished tojoin the forum, they could no longerfind air tickets.The smaller number of participants,however, did not have anyreal effect on the general zest ofthe forum. “As always, there washigh enthusiasm in the air,” saysMs. Hovhannessian.“I was very excited to come toArmenia. It is my first time,” saysVicken Kahvejian, 20, from Philadelphia.A third-year student infinance, Vicken brought along hisclose friend, Matt Mamigonian,21, from Pennsylvania, a fourthyearstudent in economics andfinance, who joined the forum forhis first visit to Armenia. “We haveheard about Armenia all our lives,and we thought we could comehere to have a very fun experience,”says Matt.Hrazdan Stadium gets much-needed face liftNonstop buildingprior to Armenia-Turkey soccer gamesby Armen HakobyanYEREVAN – Many generations ofArmenian soccer fans have a deepaffection for the Hrazdan Stadiumin Yerevan, where these days, despitethe burning heat of July, thereis a lot of activity going on.Intensive renovation is underwaythroughout the stadium. OnAugust 20, the under-21 nationalteams of Armenia and Turkey willbe playing here in Hrazdan Stadium.Another football match whichhas attracted a lot of attention isthe qualifying round for the 2010World Cup between the nationalteams of Armenia and Turkey,which is expected to take place onSeptember 6. Armenia’s president,Serge Sargsian, has invited thepresident of Turkey, Abdullah Gül,to Armenia to watch the matchbetween their national teams. Armeniaand Turkey do not havebilateral diplomatic relations. Thegovernment box at Hrazdan Stadiumis ready to receive high-rankingguests. However, let’s leave politicsaside and return to the stadium.The last time a match between nationalteams took place at HrazdanStadium was eight years ago in2000 between Armenia and anotherneighboring country, Georgia(0:0). And now…For the first time in the forum’shistory, a non-Armenian participantfrom Argentina, JuliettaPuppo, who teaches Armenian historyat the Mkhitarian ArmenianSchool in Buenos Aires, took partin the forum. “It was thrilling tohost her and show her around Armenia,”says Ms. Hovhannessian.Fun learningThis year the forum offered a moreintegrative program, one whichgave its young participants the opportunityto interact with the variouscomponents of life in Armeniaand not only in Yerevan.“Every year we used to visit Aramus,a village adopted by Hamazkayin,”says Ms. Hovhannessian.However, this year, the forummembers spent a whole day there,played soccer and basketball withthe village children, were hostedby the school principal, and hadlunch in the orchards together withthe villagers. “We had an amazingtime. We all sang and danced, hada barbecue in the tonir, and pickedthe fruits right from the trees. Ourstudents had the chance to live aYEREVAN – For her second visit toArmenia, Hourie Injeyian, 25, fromOrange County, California, chose tojoin the Hamazkayin Forum.Hourie’s first exposure to herhomeland had been in 2004, whenshe visited Armenia with her family.Following an overwhelming firstvisit, mostly spent sightseeing,she wanted to come back to takein more, especially the everydayculture, and a taste of what life islike in Armenia.“The first trip was very emotional,and I was not well preparedParticipants in the Hamazkayin Forum at Lake Sevan.moment in a village in Armenia, tobreathe in the smell of the soil, tomingle with the people,” she says.“Visiting Aramus and having funwith its people was definitely themost exciting and fulfilling part ofthe program,” Vicken says.Besides getting to know Armeniansfrom Armenia, one of the mainobjectives of the Hamazkayin Forumis to bring together young Armeniansfrom various communities inHaroutoun Keheyan, a soccerstar in the 1940s and 50s, a livinglegend in Armenian soccer, is thedirector of Hrazdan Stadium. Herecalls the magnificent footballevents of the 70s, when SovietArmenia’s Ararat team was the centerof attention: USSR runner up(1971), USSR champion (1973) andUSSR Cup holder (1973, 1975). Mr.Keheyan was the second coach forthat amazing team. Walking withMr. Keheyan, we come to the southerngate of the stadium. The oldmaster looks at a memorial, whichreads: “The first match was on May19, 1971: Ararat-Kayrat 3:0. AlexanderKovalenko scored the first goal.”Like other athletes, Keheyan is also“a bit superstitious” and hopes thatour soccer players will play a worthygame, especially when all of themajor achievements of Armeniansoccer have taken place in this stadium.He examines the grass witha professional eye and assures usthat it is in prime condition.Aleksandr Ring is the Germanengineer and regional director ofthe SEEL Partner company. He issupervising and monitoring therenovation, including the assemblyof high pressure resistant syntheticfinishes, which are being used inArmenia for the first time. Duringour conversation he mentions thatthe heat is hindering the work, ashigh temperatures shorten the adhesiontime of the products by halfand because of this, it is necessaryto work twice as fast, while maintainingprecision. According to theGerman specialist, the work is becomingmore difficult, as it is necessaryto first of all reconstruct theedges of the reinforced concrete,which has been damaged over theyears and only after that can theywork on water resistance and coatingthe synthetic finishes.According to the stadium administration,seismologists havestudied the structure in detail andhave estimated its condition tobe adequate. Ashot Aghababian(member of parliament, RepublicanParty of Armenia), the ownerof Hrazdan Stadium, who led thiscorrespondent on a tour of the stadium,explained in detail the workbeing done on each section of thecomplex. It is apparent that a lotof work has been carried out. Thecomplete renovation of the toilets,which used to be the Achilles heelof public buildings during the Sovietyears, is a sight for sore eyes.the diaspora and to bond in a healthycultural and social environment.“I feel that the social aspect of theprogram is very good. It has been anexciting experience to get to knowArmenians of our age from variouscountries. We have become a goodteam, having a good time together,learning and having fun together,”says Matt. “It looks like we haveformed some lifelong friendships,”adds Vicken.Wanting to take in more of the homelandfor it. I am very glad that I camewith my whole family, since it wasa first-time experience for all of us,”recalls Hourie.For her second visit, Houriewanted to see more than justmonuments. She wanted to interactwith the people and theforum gave her just that opportunity.“Today we went to MartirosSaryan’s Art Museum andthere we met the Sayat NovaEnsemble. We all had the chanceto chat with the choir members,”says Hourie, adding that to herit was as important as visiting ahistorical site.“Last week we went to the Aramusvillage and played footballwith the students. It is throughthese kind of contacts that wecan get an understanding of ourcountry and its culture,” Houriecontinues.“The forum gave me an opportunityto learn much about Armenia.The lectures were followed up byeverything that we saw and prettymuch they go hand in hand withwhat we visit,” says Hourie. “ForHrazdan Stadium under construction. The stadium will have the capacity to seat50,000 spectators. Photo: Armenian Reporter.“We are realizing the renovationunder the supervision of Germanspecialists and with the help of our270 employees and approximately80 contract workers. We work withinthe law. There is a lot of work tobe done here, of course, which weare doing and will continue to do.However, currently our priority ispreparing for the Armenia-Turkeyunder-21 and the national teammatches. This is why the followingareas must be ready: the field(it is ready), the changing rooms,the referees’ and UEFA delegates’rooms, the media, medical, and antidopingcenters. Work has reachedits last phase in all of the abovementionedareas,” Mr. Aghababiantells us. “We must finish the workon time. Though we can only dreamof the facilities that modern stadiumshave, we are trying to reachAs always, the program includedlectures on various Armenian issues,as well as visits to historicalsites and monuments all over Armenia.“We have seen all these places andmonuments in books our wholelives. With this program we couldlearn more while seeing what theyreally look like. It is so amazing tosee the beauty of Armenia,” Mattconcludes.fexample, to visit Tzitzernakaberdagain right after we discussed theArmenian Genocide made a strongerconnection.”On the first day of the forum,Hourie did not know anybodycoming into the program. Yet itdid not prevent it from becomingone of the best experiences of herlife. “I have met so many differentpeople from different countries. Iam excited to get exposed to differentArmenian dialects, excitedto have new Armenian friendsfrom so many countries.” finternational standards with theresources we have. It is our missionand a matter of pride to us that wepresent a stadium that is in goodcondition.”Mr. Aghababian notes that theyhave been renovating since theyobtained the large stadium in May1993. “No matter how much yourenovate in this kind of structure,there is always more to construct.This is one of our exceptional sportscomplexes. It is well known aroundthe world and during the period ofthe Soviet era it was proclaimed asone of the seven exceptional structuresin the Union. It is exceptionalin its location, with the number ofits seats and its architecture. [GurgenMusheghian was the designerof the stadium.] We are trying togive it a more modern appearancewith brighter colors.”The owner of the stadium saysthat over the past several years,they have taken out over $2.5 millionin loans to realize large-scalerenovation projects at Hrazdan.Mr. Aghababian also said that “as afriend, the president of the Armenianfootball federation, RoubenHayrapetian (Member of Parliament,Republican Party of Armenia)has given us a $500 thousandloan for the renovation works at 0percent interest.”UEFA representatives are to arrivein Yerevan in mid-August andassess whether the condition of thestadium adheres to their standards.It will then be up to Armenia’s soccerteam to do everything to ensurethat Armenians have more to cheerfor than a renovated stadium. f


18 The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008ArmeniaFrom Armenia, in briefPresident SergeSargsian and CatholicosKarekin II in UkraineArmenia’s president and CatholicosKarekin II were in Crimea to takepart in a ceremony marking the650th anniversary of the foundingof the Sourb Khach (Holy Cross)Armenian Monastery. UkrainianPresident Viktor Yuschenko alsotook part in the ceremony.Holy Cross Monastery is a remarkableexample of Armenianmedieval architecture and it wasthe spiritual center of Crimean Armenians,serving for centuries asthe residence of local Armenianbishops.During their visit, the presidentand the Catholicos also visitedYalta’s St. Hripsime Church, wherethey met with hundreds of representativesof the Armenian communitythere.Even though President SergeSargsian’s visit to Ukraine wasin an unofficial capacity, he didmeet with Mr. Yuschenko duringa working breakfast. The two sidesdiscussed bilateral cooperation,increasing trade and economic cooperation,cooperation in culture,and a possible official visit to Armeniaby the president of Ukraine.Lord Russell Johnston. Photos: Photolure.Chair of PACE specialcommittee on NKR diesThe press service of the Council ofEurope issued a statement on July28 that Lord Russell Johnston,Chair of the PACE Special Committeeon Nagorno-Karabakh had died.In a statement, Council of EuropeSecretary General Terry Davis said,“Everyone in Strasbourg is shockedand distressed by the news of thedeath of Lord Russell Johnston. Hemade an exceptional contributionto the Council of Europe as a memberof our Parliamentary Assemblyfor 23 years and as President from1999 to 2002. We have lost a greatParliamentarian who passionatelybelieved in a wider Europe whereeveryone would enjoy democracy,human rights and the rule of law.”Armenian president Serge Sargsiansent letters of condolence toMr. Davis and PACE President LuisMaria de Puig.Lord Johnston was 75 years oldand had been suffering from cancer.Foreign Minister saysArmenia is ready toestablish diplomaticrelations with nopreconditions,At a press briefing with journalistson July 30, Armenia’s Foreign MinisterEdward Nalbandian saidthat Armenia wants to establishdiplomatic relations with Turkey,but without preconditions. Healso said that Armenian authoritieswould never contribute tothe denial of the Armenian Genocide.“I want to declare once andfor good: Armenian leadership willnever take up steps that could beperceived as encouraging a denialpolicy concerning the ArmenianGenocide.”Mr. Nalbandian also said thathe hoped that Turkey’s presidentAbdullah Gül would accept PresidentSerge Sargisian’s invitationto watch the Armenia-Turkeysoccer game scheduled for earlySeptember. The minister said thatArmenia’s invitation was well receivedby the international communityand it is now up to Turkeyto decide the next step.Regarding the Karabakh conflict,the foreign minister said that theArmenian side is determined to doeverything possible to ensure theprogress of the peace talks. He saidthat during the meeting of the Armenianand Azerbaijan presidentsin St. Petersburg in June, there hadbeen an agreement to continue thetalks based on the Madrid proposals.Site of the new thermal power plant.Construction to beginfor new thermal powerplantThe foundation-laying ceremoniestook place for a new unit of the Yerevanthermal power plant on July30. The new power plant will have acombined steam and gas cycle.According to Mediamax, Armenia’sMinister of Energy ArmenMovsisyan said that the total capacityof the new power unit willbe 271.7 megawatts and the electriccapacity will be 242 megawatts. Theminister said that with this newEdwardNalbandian.power plant, the reliability of theenergy system in Armenia will increase,the flows of electric energywill be optimized, and losses willbe cut down.The plan is to use 157–175 gramsof natural gas to produce 1 kilowattper hour. In comparison, the powerunits in Hrazdan and Yerevan haveindexes that require 400 grams for1 kilowatt.Mitsui & Co. of Japan and theKorean GS Engineering and Constructioncompanies, which havea wealth of experience and haverealized many similar programs inother countries, will be the mainexecutors of the construction inArmenia. The cost of the constructionis estimated to be $240–250million. The old structure will beclosed down and the new unit willmaintain a 100-member staff. Thenew power plant will also be moreenvironmentally friendly with lessemissions.It is expected that constructionwill be completed in April, 2010,and will account for 15 percentof the country’s power consumption.Ararat Zurabyan.ANM leader releasedfrom prison pendingtrailAccording to Mediamax, ArmenianNational Movement (ANM) leaderArarat Zurabyan was releasedfrom a Yerevan prison on July 29.Mr. Zurabyan was incarceratedafter the events of March 1 pendinga criminal investigation. TheSpecial Investigations Service ofArmenia issued a statement sayingthat Mr. Zurabyan was transferredto a cardiology hospital for medicaltreatment. He has given a writtenstatement that he would not leavethe country pending the outcomeof his criminal case.Miasnik Malkhasian.President SergeSargsian andCatholicosKarekin II inCrimea withother highrankingofficials.Photo: MartinShahbazyan.Imprisoned oppositionmember of parliamenthospitalizedMiasnik Malkhasian, memberof parliament and oppositionmember, has been hospitalizedwhile being held in prison. Hewas transferred to a prison hospitalafter complaining about notfeeling well. Mr. Malkhasian hasbeen in prison since March 2. Thehospital staff say that his poorhealth condition may be relatedto diabetes.He is the third prisoner to betransferred to a hospital for his ailinghealth. Ararat Zurabian andAram Karapetian were also hospitalizedand then later releasedfrom prison pending the completionof a criminal investigation. Accordingto RFE/RL Mr. Karapetianwas even allowed to leave Armeniafor Russia to continue his treatmentthere.Authorities investigating theevents of March 1 agreed to allowMr. Malkhasian to be taken to ahospital amidst growing calls forhis release.ArmenTel (Beeline)fined $1 million by stateantitrust regulatorsArmenTel recently launched a newservice providing users high-speedInternet access at very competitiveprices. Other Internet providersclaimed that ArmenTel wasnot allowing them to use its newlymodernized facilities to providethat same service. The companyvoluntarily relinquished its legalmonopoly on Armenia’s Internetaccess in September 2006. Lastmonth Internet providers formallylodged a complaint with the StateCommission for the Protection ofEconomic Competition.According to RFE/RL the statecommission found the complaintto be legitimate and gave Armen-Tel 15 days to rectify the situation,which it failed to do. The commissionsaid that ArmenTel was tryingto put other Internet providers outof business and thus fined it 300million drams ($1 million).Hayastan Trading Center.Several largesupermarkets shutdown by State TaxService for violationsFor the past year, Armenia’sState Tax Service (STS) has put23 supermarkets in Yerevan undersurveillance for alleged violations,including not providingcustomers with receipts or providingreceipts in the Russian language.Armenian law says that allreceipts are to be printed in thecountry’s official language, Armenian,and that any transactionContinued on page 19 m


The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008 19ArmeniaFrom Armenia, in briefn Continued from page 18that occurs must be accompaniedby a receipt.As a result of the investigation,the STS has closed down nine largesupermarkets in Yerevan for a periodof 5–10 days.Some of the better-known supermarketsare Parma, Hayastan TradingCenter, Zovq, Aramian Father& Sons, and Star Supermarket onAmiryan Street.New electric trains tobe put into operationAccording to Mediamax, five newelectric trains will be put intooperation shortly. AlexanderKuznetsov, the general director ofthe South Caucasus Railroad. saidthat on August 2, a new electrictrain on the Gyumri-Yerevan routewill be put into operation.Mr. Kuznetsov also announcedthat in early August, four new electrictrains received from RussianRailroads will also start operatingon the line.Armenian migrantsprefer to go to Russia,survey revealsAccording to Armenia’s NationalStatistical Service (NSS), among2,500 households surveyed wishingto move to other countries forpermanent resident between 2002and 2007, the majority would preferto resettle in Russia. The resultsof the survey: 36.5 percentRussia; 21 percent the U.S.; 11.5percent Ukraine; 6 percent Georgia;and 14 percent for all othercountries.The head of the demographyand census department of the NSS,Karine Kuyumjian, said that thesurvey revealed that 92 percent ofArmenians who moved to othercountries between 2002 and 2007were between the ages of 15 and59; the median age was 35. The majorityof migrants had secondaryeducation.The survey also found that 68percent of migrants were married;67 percent were laborers; 9 percentwere self-employed; and 3 percentwere unemployed. The majority ofmigrants came from the constructionsector and 18 percent fromtrade and services.Piir Ziben, the regional directorof the UN Population Fund SouthCaucasus, said the survey has revealedinteresting results that maybe used by the Armenian governmentto develop a more specific migrationpolicy.The survey was conducted in cooperationwith Labor and Social AffairsMinistry of Armenia and theUN Population Fund.OSCE AnticorruptionPublic Reception Centerbrings leaders togetherOn July 29, representatives of theOSCE Yerevan office, the Labor andSocial Affairs Ministry, deputy justiceminister, chair of the government’sCadastre Committee, deputyhead of the Judicial Department,deputy police chief, and employeesof the Anticorruption Public ReceptionCenter of the OSCE Yerevanoffice met with Deputy Prime MinisterArmen Gevorgian. The participantsdiscussed the results ofDeparture terminal, the gateway for migrants searching for a better life.New electrictrains to replaceolder trains inArmenia’s railwaysystem.the Anticorruption Public ReceptionCenter’s work with citizens.The Anticorruption Public ReceptionCenter said that after analyzingand assessing complaints bycitizens, they found that people aremostly dissatisfied with the judicialsystem, notary offices, cadastres,law-enforcement bodies, local authorities,and various-level governmentofficials.According to the deputy policechief, corruption risks were reducedin the visa and passport departmentafter ongoing reformswere realized.Senior representatives of governmentalagencies agreed to cooperatewith the AnticorruptionPublic Reception Center and willdesignate an employee who willvisit the Anticorruption ReceptionCenter four times a year to take informationrelated to their agencyfor further discussion and eliminationof reported shortcomingsThe Anticorruption Public ReceptionCenter was established in 2005to help the anticorruption coalitionof nongovernmental organizationsimplement anticorruptionprograms.VivaCell top taxpayer inArmenia for first half of2008Armenia’s State Tax Service (STS)published the list of the top 300taxpayers in Armenia. For the firsthalf of 2008, topping the list wasVivaCell, which paid 15,002,186,200drams ($50,007,287). The nexthighest tax payer was Armrusgazard,which paid 9,413,734,200drams ($31,379,114) and the ArmenianTelephone Company (Beeline)which paid 8,168,485,800 drams($27,228,286).The other top taxpayers wereZangezur Copper-Molybdenumfactory, Kagh Petrol Service, AlexGrieg, Armenia’s Electricity Network,Armenian Railway, and PeresArmenia.The STS also published thosecompanies that paid the most intothe social insurance fund. The listis topped by Armenia’s ElectricityNetworks followed by Armrusgazardand Gh-Telecom (Vivacell).17 companies expressinterest in tender for3rd mobile telephoneoperator in ArmeniaThe press office of the Transportand Communication Ministry saidthat about 17 companies have alreadyapplied to take part in thetender for the third mobile telephoneoperator in Armenia. Theministry will publish the names ofthose companies which will passto the next round of the tender in40 days. In another 40-day period,companies are obligated to presenttheir applications and suggestionsto the commission. The name ofthe operator will be announced inDecember of this year.Some of the companies thathave applied are: France Telecom(France), CEO Blackrock Communications(Ireland), KnightsbridgeInternational TelecommunicationsHolding (Austria), Aetos ConsultingLimited (England), Kalba International(Egypt), and SamssonGroup (Germany).Spanish TV companyprepares documentaryon ArmeniaThe head of the Tourism Departmentof the Armenian Ministry ofEconomy, Mekhak Apresyan, saidthat the Spanish Bass TV Companyalong with Trans Globe Companyis making a one-hour documentaryabout Armenia within the frameworkof Escape Movie-Almanac.According to Mr. Apresyan, theproducers selected 13 countrieswhich they believe are of uniqueinterest for tourists to visit.The Armenian government willbe partially funding the 225,000-EGG DONOR WANTEDARMENIAN COUPLE ISLOOKINGFOR A BEAUTIFULARMENIAN EGG DONOR.COLLEGE STUDENTBETWEENTHE AGES OF 21 – 30.FEE FROM $6000nymhb_fertility_svcs@yahoo.comeuro project. The film is expectedto be broadcast in 2009 by the DiscoveryChannel.Armenia and Mexico tosign tourism agreementDuring its July 24 session, Armenia’sgovernment agreed to sign anagreement between Armenia andMexico to cooperate in the sphereof tourism.According to Vahe Danielian,deputy minister of economy, theagreement is aimed at ensuringcooperation in the sphereof tourism. The deputy ministersaid that the agreement will promoteincreased tourism betweenthe two countries and within theframework of the agreement,conduct studies about potentialtourism, advertising, informationmaterials and statistics.Mr. Danielian also said that thisagreement can benefit futurejoint investments.Rimma Varjapetyan.Leader of Jewishcommunity in Armeniaawarded a medalOn July 30, the chair of the JewishCommunity of Armenia, RimmaVarjapetyan, was awarded acommemorative medal by PrimeMinister Tigran Sarkisian for hercontribution to Armenian-Jewishrelations.According to Mediamax, Ms.Varjapetyan said, “Armenia has allperquisites to become a strong anddeveloped country and our joint effortswill significantly contribute tothat.” She thanked the governmentof Armenia for allocating funds (21million drams) in 2007 for the reestablishmentof the monumentto Jewish culture in the village ofYeghegis in Vayots Dzor.InternationalPantomime Festival tobe held in TsakhkadzorArmenia’s Culture Ministry hasannounced that an internationalfestival of pantomime theaters willbe held in Tsakhkadzor on August10–15. According to Armenpress,the event is being organized by theYerevan Pantomime State Theater,Culture Ministry, Union of ArmenianTheatrical Figures, and NationalTheatrical Creative Union.Pantomime theaters from Spain,Italy, Greece, Russia, and othercountries will be participating.Arno Babajanianinternationalmusic festival to beestablishedArmenia’s Culture Ministry hasannounced that an Arno Babajanianinternational music festivalis to be established in Armenia.According to Armenpress, thefounding concert will take placeon August 9 in the central squareof the resort town of Tsakhkadzor.The festival will be organizedin cooperation with the Armeniabranch of the Arno BabajanianMemory International Foundation,the municipality of Tsakhkadzor,and Ovatsia (Ovation)Production Center.Jacques Hakobian, the directorof the Arno Babajanian MemoryInternational Foundation in Armenia,said that only Armenianartists will participate in this firstfestival. Distinguished musicianslike Ruben Matevosian, RayisaMkrtchian, Leyla Saribekian,Alla Levonian, and others, as wellas young performers will be takingpart.f—M.T.On August 1 city officials opened the new underpass at the Tigran Mets Ave. andKhanjian St. intersection – one of the busiest thoroughfares in Yerevan.Reach over 100,000 Armenianswith your messageAdvertise in the Armenian Reporter, on the newUSArmenia Television, and on Armenia TV onthe Dish Network. For more information, from theWestern U.S. call 818.800.3311 or from the EasternU.S. call 201.226.1995.


20 The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008ArmeniaEastern Diocese Women’s Guild helps children inArmenia through CASP and other initiativesDoing remarkablethings in thehomelandby Maria TitizianYEREVAN – Lucy Murad and TanyaBukucuyan are extraordinarywomen. You realize that as soon asyou meet them. They have come toArmenia with a clear mission anddetermination. They, along withAnne Terkanian, make up theChildren of Armenia SponsorshipProgram (CASP). The program wasstarted by the Women’s Guild CentralCouncil (WGCC) of the EasternDiocese of the Armenian Church ofAmerica in 1991, at a time of turmoilin Armenia. The aftermathof the earthquake, the conflict inNagorno-Karabakh, and the collapseof the Soviet Union hadplaced a tremendous strain on thepopulation of the country.The women of WGCC decided todirect their financial and moralsupport to a new generation of orphansin Armenia and those whowere taking care of them. They embarkedupon a program wherebythey would collect annual pledgesto help orphans and their caregiverssurvive the harsh realities of life inArmenia. An annual pledge of $220is collected from donors. CASP ensuresthat all those children who arepart of their program receive theannual stipend until the age of 18.In 1993, Catholicos Karekin II,who was Vicar of the AraratianDiocese at the time, had initiatedthe Orphaned Child CharitableOffice. This office lent vital supportto CASP’s desire to help in theearly days. The Araratian Diocesebegan registering orphans. By 1993the Diocese had already registeredsome 11,000 orphans.To date, CASP has sponsored8,000 Armenian orphans.This past week, Ms. Murad, thechairperson of the WGCC, and Ms.Bukucuyan, the treasurer, were inArmenia not only to administerfunds for the orphans, and to takepart in some special ceremonies,but also to identify other worthwhilecauses that the WGCC couldsupport.“There are 37 Women’s Guilds inthe Eastern Diocese. CASP is oneof our projects,” Ms. Murad toldthe Armenian Reporter. CurrentlyCASP sponsors close to 1,300 children– 1,000 from the AraratianDiocese, 100 children in Javakhk,and over 200 children in Shirak,Sisian, Goris, and Kapan. They areexpanding their program and willnow also support children in theMeghri region. Close to 800 sponsorsfrom the United States pledgethe annual fee of $220.“We ask the sponsors to staywithin the program up until thetime that [the orphans] are 18 yearsold. But that’s not always possible.If they bow out of the program,we assign that child to anothersponsor. Of the $220, some of thechildren in the villages are receiving$200 stipends whereas in theAraratian diocese they receive $180.They were all receiving $180 but weupped the stipends in the villagesbecause the need is greater there,”Ms. Murad said.Theirs is a $300,000-a-year organization,and it is all done on apurely voluntary basis. The WGCCdoes not have a paid administrator.“We did have a coordinator inthe Diocese office, but our programcan’t sustain a paid person in theStates,” said Ms. Murad. The women,who all live in different cities,say they use alternate methods ofcommunication to get their workdone. “We use Skype and we realizedthat you don’t have to all sitin the same room in this age,” Ms.Murad said.Ms. Murad, a real-estate agent,Ms. Bukucuyan, an accountant,and Ms. Terkanian, a data manager,not only live in different cities butall work full time. The amount ofwork they accomplish is staggering.The women write newsletters,print brochures that can be foundon-line, and maintain a website.“It’s a fulfilling job; it’s not a burden,”Ms. Bukucuyan said. “If it’s aburden you can’t do it. We all workfull time.”Their facilitator and representativein Armenia is the Fund for ArmenianRelief (FAR). On February 1,2007, CASP and FAR signed a memorandumof understanding, throughwhich a CASP-Armenia Team wasformed under the direction ofFAR. The CASP-Armenia Team isresponsible for the distribution ofstipends and implementation ofthe program in Armenia in closecoordination and cooperationwith the Dioceses of the ArmenianChurch in Armenia and the Vicarageof the Armenian Church in Javakhk,Georgia. FAR ensures thatthe donations are distributed tothe recipient families. MargaritaPiliiposyan, the Deputy CountryDirector of FAR told the ArmenianReporter that oftentimes, representativesof FAR have to travel to theregions to distribute the moneybecause the families can’t afford tocome to Yerevan. When asked whodecides which family can be partof the CASP program, Ms. Piliposyansaid, “We have contacts in theregions and they know what theprocedure is. They have all the papers,applications forms, and theycollect information. There is a setof eligibility criteria that [the families]must comply with. The applicationscome to office in Yerevan, wetranslate them and send them toNew York and then [CASP] decideswho gets in.” According to Ms. Muradand Ms. Bukucuyan, FAR servesas their eyes and ears and providesthem with detailed reports.It’s an extremely difficult andheart-wrenching process decidingwhich family receives assistanceand which doesn’t. In order for achild to qualify for the program,either both parents or one parenthas to be deceased, but the womenadmit that there are extreme cases.“Oftentimes the $200 stipend isclose to 50 percent or more of theirannual stipends,” said Ms. Murad.To make sure that the orphansreceive close to the full amount ofthe pledge, CASP tries to keep administrativecosts between 6 and10 percent. When a potential donorwishes to take part in the CASP program,they receive a biography, aphoto of the child, and other vitalinformation in a folder. The donorsalso receive a photo of their adoptedorphan on a magnet to put ontheir refrigerators. The children arenow writing letters to their sponsors.The letters are translated intoEnglish and then passed on to thedonors through a volunteer.CASP and beyondParallel to their orphan program,the WGCC has renovated and supportedan orphanage in Kavar. “Wewere giving up to $180 per childfor 150 children up until two yearsago. In that orphanage we gavethem money for repairs, replacingthe boiler and put a well in,” Ms.Murad said. The problem was whatto do with the orphans after theyturned 18; there were serious housingissues.CASP was able to secure a donorwho purchased an apartment adjacentto Kavar for the orphans whoturned 18 and had nowhere to go.CASP had the apartment renovated.This apartment can house up tonine girls. The boys, after turning18, go to the army. Currently theyare not channeling funds to thatorphanage.Through the funds of anotherdonor, WGCC put in a computer libraryat Vazgen I High School inGyumri. The Fund for ArmenianRelief matched the funds raised byWGCC. The total cost of the projectwas $18,000 and that school cannow train up to 500 children.The WGCC also sponsors theschool bag project, where they sendschool bags every two years to Armenia.They sent 1,500 school bagsLeft: Lucy Murad(l.) and TanyaBukucuyan.Above: LucyMurad withbaptized childrenin Gyumri.Right: Baptismceremony inGyumri. Photos:FAR.two years ago. This program wasstarted after the 1988 earthquake.Last year WGCC also hosted aChristmas party for 726 children.The children came from differentorphanages but most importantlythey all had special needs. Ms. Muradsaid proudly that they also sent142 children to camp last year andwould be doing it again this yearin Gyumri.125 baptismsThe women representing WGCC alsocarried out another very specialproject while in Armenia: baptizing125 children. “We were told thatthere are 125 children that neededto be baptized. We brought the towelsthat were embroidered by Anne;we purchased the crosses; we alsopurchased children’s Bibles for childrenbetween the ages of 10 and 13.We prepared little goody bags containingpencils, pens, candy, andtoothbrushes, and the children willall receive them. We also broughtornaments from our Women’sGuild which we will be distributingto the families. And we brought allof these with us from the UnitedStates,” Ms. Murad said.Both Ms. Murad and Ms. Bukucuyanfind it hard to express theiremotions. They had only been inArmenia for a few days but they alreadyfelt like it had been more thana month. Every day they visiteddifferent organizations and NGOsto determine which worthwhileproject they would like to support.There are so many worthwhile projects,it’s difficult to choose.The day they met with the ArmenianReporter they had been to theChildren’s Support Center run byFAR in a suburb of Yerevan. It isa center for children in difficultiesor at risk. After meeting with thedirector of the center, the womenwere inspired. “It gives you courage.You want to go back home and domore,” Ms. Bukucuyan said.This center supports a foster careprogram, where they place childrenwith families. “When a child livesin an orphanage, they aren’t able tobecome socialized and they don’tlearn the things you would learnliving in a household and it’s noblefor people to keep these children intheir homes and take care of them,”Ms. Murad said, and added, “Peopleneed to be aware that there’s anotherway of housing children thathave been abandoned. They don’tneed to be in orphanages.”They had also visited the ChildFirst Care Center, which is a centerfor autistic children, and Prkutyun,a center for disabled children.Prkutyun currently has 473 childrenwith mental and physical disabilities.The organization transports28 children daily from their homesto the center. The cost of keepingthose children is $70 a month. Thewomen stress the importance ofraising awareness of the wide arrayof problems children face in thiscountry, particularly children withdisabilities.The WGCC takes two types of donations.One is an annual pledgefor CASP and the other one is generaldonations which can come asgifts, memorial gifts, birthdays, orwills. Through these general donations,the WGCC will continue supportingworthwhile causes in thehomeland.“Everything that we’re seeing istouching me,” Ms. Murad said. It’sdifficult not to be affected by whatyou see. The women have a lot ofwork cut out for them. Besidesvisiting different organizations,liaising with their representativesin Armenia, and baptizing 125 children,they have to decide where tochannel their funds. “We need tomake educated decisions,” Ms. Muradsaid. But they both know thatin the end they will make the rightdecision.“Everything is doable,” Ms. Bukucuyanstressed.fconnect:www.caspkids.org


The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008 21ArmeniaA Hungarian finds his Tibet in Armeniaby Nyree AbrahamianYEREVAN – My friends and Iclimbed Mount Aragats last weekled by a Hungarian nomad namedBotond. This was his fifth timeclimbing the mountain in just twomonths. A year ago, Botond wasa cog in the corporate machine,working his days and nights awayin the finance department of IBM inBudapest. At 26, he had a successfulcareer and lived a comfortablelife but somehow, something wasmissing. So one day last August, hedecided to leave everything behindin search of that something. He leftBudapest with nothing but a backpack,a tent, and a passport.His first stop was Spain, wherehe hiked the El Camino pilgrimagetrail through the Pyrenees, covering800 kilometers in 20 days. Aftera brief return to Hungary, hewent to Romania, where he spenta grueling winter in the CarpathianMountains. There was a small villageof about 20 families nearby, butthe rugged exile-by-choice spentfive months in near solitude. Naturally,he did a lot of thinking andsoul-searching during this time. “Itwas scary at times not having anyoneto talk to,” says Botond, “Butit was also strangely liberating.” Hedecided that he would keep trekkingeast to eventually end up inTibet, where he hoped to discover asense of spiritual harmony.Armenia was never a part of theplan. Botond ended up here quitearbitrarily. He was in Georgiaand was originally planning to gothrough Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan,and Turkmenistan, but found outthat unlike many of the countriesDiaspora-Armenianteachers re-energizedby conferenceby Armen Hakobyanin the region, in Armenia, you canget a visa right at the border andit’s relatively inexpensive ($50 forfour months). In Iran, a transit visacosts roughly the same amountand must be applied for well in advance.So after months on the go,the Hungarian wanderer figured hecould take a few weeks to rest histired feet in Armenia (if you considerclimbing mountains on a weeklybasis a rest).Botond has been here for twomonths now, and although hestumbled into Armenia more outof convenience than curiosity, heis convinced that it was fate thatbrought him here. He sees commonsymbols in the landscapes, the culturesand the people that link thethree main chapters of his travels:Spain, Romania, and Armenia. “Ifeel like my journey was sort of abacktrack,” he says, “leading me toArmenia all along.”When he first arrived here, hesaw a sharp contrast in the country’sancient history, with churchesand khatchkars dotting the landscapeas the sole survivors of a gloriouspast, and its current situation.He expected the strong sense ofspirituality that he felt reverberatingthrough the monuments to bereflected in people’s everyday livesand was disappointed to find a disconnectbetween the two. But ashe gets to know this land and itspeople, he realizes that somethingof its ethereal past remains – youjust have to dig a little below thesurface to find it. “They may sometimesbe rough around the edges,but people act as brothers here,”says Botond, “There is a true feelingof humanity in Armenia that I havenot experienced anywhere else.”YEREVAN – More than a hundreddiaspora-Armenian schoolteacherswere in Armenia to participatein the third pan-Armenian educationalconference organized by theMinistry of Education and Science.The conference began in Yerevan onJuly 24, and continued July 25–27 inTsaghkadzor. According to the ministry,147 teachers from Armeniancommunities in 31 countries participatedin the conference. PrimeMinister Tigran Sarkisian, Minsterof Education and Science SpartakSeyranian, President of the ForeignMinistry’s State Committee for Relationswith the Diaspora HranushHakobian, and other high-rankingofficials and clergy members participatedin the opening ceremony.In a welcoming speech PresidentSerge Sargsian said: “Today I conveymy gratitude to each and everyone of you. You realize the noblemission of keeping Armenians Armenian,instilling those Armenians whogrow up in foreign countries withthe Armenian language and spiritand educating a patriotic generation.Armenia also has a serious role toplay in this. I am sure that by visitingthe motherland more frequently andwith the help of similar conferencesand discussions you will receive andpass on new knowledge, breath, andspirit to your students.”After the end of the conferencethe Armenian Reporter spoke withsome of the conference participantsto find out the principal educationalissues teachers in diasporaschools were facing and whetherthese concerns had been addressedduring the conference. SalpiBoshgezenian, who was born inAleppo, currently teaches Armenianlanguage at the Yerevan clubin Almelo, Holland. She noted, “Atthis conference we suggested preparingmaterials and books to teachArmenian to those children who donot know Armenian. All publishedbooks have been designed for childrenwho already know Armenian.There are no materials appropriateto our situation.”According to Ms. Boshgezenian,the number of Armenians in Hollandis thought to be 15,000. Ofthem, some 5,000 live in Almelo.She notes that the Armenians inAlmelo are mainly from WesternArmenia (Sasun region), who aremainly “Turkish-speaking Armeniansraised in a Kurdish environmentand tradition” and after movingto Holland, “they try to becomeBotond has been staying withStepan Adamyan, a 24-year-oldYerevan native who inheritedhis grandfather’s house in theHrazdan gorge and decided to openit up to guests. Over the past twoyears, more than 50 travelers fromaround the world have stayed withStepan. He is a member of an onlinehospitality exchange organizationcalled Hospitality Club, buthe has also become something of alegend through word of mouth. Asif opening his home to strangersisn’t enough, he takes his guests oncamping and trekking adventuresall over the country, allowing themto experience Armenia in a trulyunique way. “I love meeting newpeople from different places,” saysStepan, “It’s a way to expand myhorizons. When you’re from Armenia,it’s hard to travel. By hostingguests from around the world, in away, I travel the world.”Currently, upon the urging ofseveral extremely satisfied guests,Stepan is converting the house intoa certified hostel. The guesthousehas been so busy lately that Botondhas been acting as an assistant, takinggroups (like me and my friends)on hiking trips when Stepan is alreadyout with another group orworking on renovations.Stepan has seen a true conversionin Botond over the course ofhis two months in Armenia. “Whenhe first came, he was extremelyskinny and quiet,” the young adventurerrecalls with a laugh, “Hedidn’t want to do much other thansleep. I guess living in the mountainsis tiring. But I let him comearound in his own time, and nowit’s like he’s lived here all his life.”Botond agrees. Armenia, in a way,has revived him. His favorite thingabout the country is the easygoinglifestyle. One of the things that hejust like the Dutch, by moving awayfrom their roots and denying theiridentity.” According to the teacher,the next wave of migration of Armenianswas from northern Iraq.They too speak Armenian eithervery poorly or not at all. In Almelo,Armenian lessons are taught in theArmenian clubs.The concerns of Aline Panoyan,Armenian language and literatureteacher at the Mkhitarian Collegein Aleppo, Syria, with its 400students, differ from those of Ms.Boshgezenian. (Ms. Panoyan usedto be Salpi Boshgezenian’s studentand after 25 years, the previousstudent and teacher met againand got reacquainted in the homeland.)“I participated in the firstconference in 2004 and not muchhas changed; the same issues werealso discussed this year and we donot know how productive it willbe,” Ms. Panoyan said. She added,“For me one of the most importantpoints is talking to teachers fromdifferent countries, representingdifferent communities. Theconference, of course, has manypositive sides, because we becomeacquainted with the issues of differentArmenian schools. We havemany expectations from the conference.In particular, suggestionswere made concerning schoolbooks,supplementary materials,and literature on methodology. Wesuggested that they prepare themin Western Armenian or at least inEastern Armenian, with the classic(traditional) orthography. At thesame time, currently we need illustratedpublications; fairy tales, stories,attractive, colorful and highqualitybooks for the youth. Wesee that annually large numbers ofpublications for young readers arebeing printed here, but it is a pityas only we, the teachers, can usethem, as the orthography we teachour children is different.”Graciella Ainajyan, the headmistressof the kindergarten atthe Khrimian Educational Establishmentin Buenos Aires, hadcome to Armenia for the first time.“Our community was establishedby Genocide survivors. It is anold community. I am of the thirdgeneration of Genocide survivorsand our students are fourth generation.Therefore, not only maintainingour culture, but also teachingour language is very difficult,”said Ms. Ainajyan, pointing outanother issue: “It is very difficultfor us to explain to everybody thatin order to teach Armenian as asecond language we need methodology,manuals, supplementarymaterials and books, as we do nothave any.” About 100,000 Armenianslive in Argentina, mostly inBuenos Aires and Cordoba. Thereare seven Armenian schools inBuenos Aires and two in Cordobaescaped when he left his fast-pacedlife in Budapest was the tendencythat people have in the West to livefor the future. Whether it’s payingoff their mortgage, getting thatpromotion, or the buying the latestflat-screen TV, people often live fortheir goals. In Armenia, he findspeople are more in tune with thepresent. “It’s not that they don’thave goals,” he reflects, “It’s justthat they see the importance of theroad they must travel to get there,and not just the final destination.”He sees his previous travels asa sort of preparation for Armenia.After living outside of society formonths, the difficulties of integratinginto a completely new societyhave diminished. He does not seethe language barrier or cultural differencesas obstacles. “When youhaven’t really spoken to anyone infive months, talking to somebodyand having him talk back – even ifyou only have a faint idea of whathe’s saying – is really nice,” he says,“I’ve sort of developed a nonverbalmethod of communication hereanyway, and it’s working just fine.”In a strange and inexplicable way,Botond has found his place in Armenia.“I feel completely at homehere,” he says, “I truly believe thatsomewhere down the line, I havesome Armenian blood in me. Thisplace calls me in an ancestral way.”He plans to stay here for as longas he can, to discover more of theland and to learn from it. “He can’tleave,” jokes Stepan, “The hostelneeds a general manager.”And as for Tibet? Botond flashesa wide grin, “Armenia is my Tibet.”fconnect: www.hospitalityclub.orgWarriors for the Armenian language gather in the homelandFrom left, Yeran Zeytuntsyan, Graciella Ainajyan, Aline Panoyan, and SalpiBoshgezenian. Photo: Armenian Reporter.Botond and Nyree Abrahamian on Mount Aragats. Photo: Armenian Reporter.(fully corresponding to Argentina’seducation system).What did they get from the conference?Ms. Ainajyan said thatthey were told that if they need anymaterials, to draw up a list andpresent it to the ministry by December15. The ministry has promisedto fulfill their requirements.The schoolteachers stressedthat any professional manuals orschoolbooks prepared in Armeniamust include the involvement ofdiaspora teachers in order to takeinto account the specific needs ofthe given community.Ms. Panoyan was impressed thatthe Ministry of Education providedall participants of the conferencewith newly published books (about10 titles) and CDs and DVDs releasedin 2007, which present Armenia andinclude special songs, educationalfilms about Armenian history andculture. “This is very important tous and we are very, very grateful forthis”, she said, hoping that updateswill be frequent.“Despite the pace of the conference,the idea in itself is a majorincentive for us. The invitation initself gave me the opportunity tothink about my work and think ofsuggestions to present. You know,teaching alone for many years I hadentered a monotonous and hopelesssituation. I had somehow lostmy motivation; maybe becauseI did not have any students duringthis year, due to the reasons Imentioned earlier. My participationin this conference in a way reenergizedme, particularly as theministry is promising to help us.You feel as if you are not alone andyou feel stronger. I am sure thatwhen I return, I will start workingwith a renewed energy,” said Ms.Boshgezenian.f


22 The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008EditorialRepresenting the might of our small nationthe armenianreporterWe’re used to seeing Armenians in the world’s top echelons of chess. But it has been twelveyears since anyone brought Summer Olympic gold back to Armenia.As the photographs on this page remind us, Armenians have a proud sports legacy.It started with the Olympic Games of Antiquity. The last recorded winner of the ancientgames was Prince Varazdat, later king of Armenia. He was the boxing championof the 291st games, in the year 385 or 369 B.C.E. (Historians don’t agree on the date.)Before him, King Trdat is said to have been the wrestling champion of the 265th OlympicGames.Armenians have remained prominent in wrestling and boxing, and have emerged as majorcontenders in weightlifting. And the chances are good that Armenians will be among thechampions in these categories in Beijing.In the Soviet era, Armenia raised some world-class gymnasts, such as Hrant Shahinianwho dazzled viewers of the 1952 Olympic Games, winning the gold in spite of injuries fromWorld War II. In Beijing, however, Armenia won’t be represented in gymnastics. It will, however,be represented by a sprinter and a javelin thrower.Expanding beyond its traditional sports, Armenia will also have two judoists, a shooter,and a swimmer in Beijing.China’s consistent record of abusing human rights, highlighted by its crackdown on protestorsin Tibet, serves to undercut the enthusiasm with which many of us would look forwardto the Olympic Games. Beijing will try to burnish its image by highlighting its economic developmentand through the reflected glory of hosting the games – rather than through actualreforms. The complicity of some media in going along with Chinese censorship, and of somemajor corporations in helping Beijing’s whitewashing operation reflects poorly on them.And yet, the Olympic Games will be a celebration of the strength, the diversity, and theunity of the human race. Sportsmen and women from all over the world, along with theircoaches, will represent the best each country has to offer. They will mingle, learn about eachother, and amaze us with their skill and their strength.We will watch, we will root, we will be entranced, and we will be awed by the athletes andtheir diverse stories. And we will take special pride in our fellow Armenians as they representthe might of our small nation.fAlbert Azaryan. XVI, XVII Games, gymnastics. Yuri Vardanyan. XXII Games, weightlifting. Vaghinak Galstyan. World Champion 2001, wrestling.Vladimir Yengibaryan. XVI Games, boxing.Hrant Shahinyan. XV Games, gymnastics.Igor Novikov. XVI, XVIII Games, modern pentathlonHrachya Petikyan. XXV Games, shooting.Armenian Reporter (ISSN 0004-2358), an independent newspaper,is published weekly by Armenian Reporter llc.Gerard L. Cafesjian, President and ceoPublisher Sylva A. BoghossianOffice manager Lisa KopooshianCopyright © 2008 by ArmenianReporter llc. All Rights ReservedPeriodicals postage paid at Paramus, N.J., andadditional mailing offices.POSTMASTER: Send address changes to PO Box129, Paramus, NJ 07652-0129.The views expressed, except in the editorial, arenot necessarily those of the publishers.Editor Vincent LimaWestern U.S. Bureau Chief andArts & Culture editor Paul ChaderjianWashington editor Emil SanamyanAssociate editor Maria TitizianAssistant to the Editor Seda StepanyanCopy editor Ishkhan JinbashianArt director Grigor HakobyanLayout assistant Nareh BalianThe Armenian Reporter is your newspaper. We urge you to send us your news and yourviews.News. Please send your news to .Letters. Please send your letters to Letters should be no morethan 250 words long and may be edited for clarity. Please include your mailing addressand daytime telephone number.Commentary. Please send your essays to Essays and articlesnormally should be no longer than 900 words.Photos and artwork. We require high-resolution originals. All photos and artworkmust include a credit to the photographer and a signed statement granting us permissionto publish.Advertising and subscriptions. Please direct questions to orcall us.Our officesPO Box 129Paramus NJ 076521-201-226-1995 phone1-201-226-1660 fax2727 West Alameda BlvdBurbank CA 915051-818-955-9933 phone1-818-955-8799 fax1 Yeghvard Hwy Fl 5Yerevan 0054 Armenia374-10-367-195 phone374-10-367-194 fax


The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008 23CommentaryWhat draws you to Armenia?by Sylvie TertzakianUpon my return from Armenia in June, aJewish friend of mine asked me,“What drawsyou to Armenia?”Her question took me by surprise, consideringthe fact that she comes from Zionistparents and is a staunch supporter of Israel.She was asking the question asked in theFrench TV movie, “Le Voyage en Armenie.”In the film, a French-Armenian woman, disconnectedfrom her Armenian roots, travelsto Armenia in search of her father. Whilein Yerevan, she comes across a French-ArmenianFrench doctor, who has left Francefor Armenia, to work in a mobile clinic. Hisanswer: “Because my name is Melkonian.”An Armenian friend who is active in a localArmenian community and has been to Armeniaasked me “What do you talk about withthe locals when you get together with them?”Both women’s questions reflect the factthat, as Americans, we are set in our ways. Wein the diaspora are different from other culturesincluding our own ancestors’ cultures.The prevailing mentality is that we shouldhelp our ancestral countries, with their torturedhistories, survive in adversarial conditions.Beyond that, we in the diaspora differculturally and socially from our people wholive in the ancestral lands.My trip to Armenia in May proved the contrary.Unlike my previous trips for philanthropicand medical projects, to participatein nation building, this last trip was purelyfor social reasons, to connect with people. Atthe end of the trip, I realized that socializingwith people was one of the factors that pullme to Armenia.Similar to grocery shoppingin the United States,supermarket chains wereopen 24 hours a day, offeringpeople employment and theopportunity to shop anytime.It was after the March 1 political crisis,when the opposition clashed with the authoritiesover the outcome of the electionsin Yerevan. Since more than half of Armenia’spopulation lives in Yerevan, I will focusmy article on Yerevan. The gap between ourlifestyles in Yerevan and the major cities inthe diaspora is getting narrower. Globalizationhas moved Yerevan into the ranks ofthe major cities of the world. Inflation wasrampant; some of the new construction inYerevan had come to a halt, due to the skyrocketingprices of construction material, orfor the fear of the unknown political futureof the country. However, despite the weakconstruction industry, which has becomeone of the two main industries, the otherbeing the service industry, life seemed to goon as if nothing had happened two monthsearlier. The cafes and restaurants were fullagain. Even Iranians have bought homesin Yerevan, as a hedge against the insecurepolitical situation back home. They seem toenjoy Yerevan’s lifestyle. Similar to groceryshopping in the United States, supermarketchains were open 24 hours a day, offeringpeople employment and the opportunity toshop any time.Young ladies in tight jeans and stilettosjammed the dance floors of restaurants andnightclubs. In one such venue in midweek,dinner was served during an internationalshow of belly dancing, tango, etc. Betweenshows, the dance floor was filled with young“Shakiras” shaking and dancing to the tuneof the live band. It was no different fromthe L.A. nightclub scene. Unlike in L.A., theabsence of young men was conspicuous. BobDylan’s lyrics: “Where have all the youngmen gone?” came to my mind. According tomy hosts; the men either serve in the army,or they have left the country in search of employment,or they work nightshifts, or theyhave no money to spend on entertainment.Yerevan panorama.The evening also reminded me of Beirut inthe late 1960s, when I attended the AmericanUniversity of Beirut. Upon my return fromIsrael one September, concerned about theheavy fighting in south Lebanon, I asked theowner of a grocery store about the situation.His reaction? “The fighting is in the south,it’s far away from Beirut”. Despite the sniperfire from the Azerbaijanis on the Armenianvillages, the proximity of the closed Turkishborder, the instability in Georgia, the tensionsbetween Iran and the internationalcommunity, the young Yerevantsis were havingfun, oblivious to the reality of the politicalsituation of Armenia. Another reminderof Beirut was the presence of Iranians inthe city, reminiscent of the presence of thewealthy sheikhs during the summers of the60s and early seventies. They expressed thatit was their right, after years of living undercommunism, and the dark years of the early1990s, to enjoy life like normal people. “Menkel mart enk” – We are human beings too.June 1 is Children’s’ Day in Armenia, a dayof celebrations. On that day my friends invitedme to visit Khor Virab, where Saint Gregorythe Illuminator spent years in the dungeonfor his courage to convert the Armenians toChristianity. There was a lot of activity in thechurch: Both babies and adults were beingbaptized, a bride and groom were patientlywaiting for the priest to marry them. It wasa folkloric scene ready to be transferred toan artist’s canvas. The view of Mount Araratfrom the church complex was breathtaking.It was a clear day, and I could almost touch itssnow peaks. Reality hit: Ararat was no morea symbol for me. It was a majestic mountainoverseeing the land of the Armenians. Theonly barrier between me and the mountainwas the heavily guarded border with Turkey.The reaction of my local hosts to Ararat wasthe same as mine: They lamented its captivityat the hand of a foreign country. The discussionwe had about Ararat could have takenplace in any Armenian home in the diaspora.For dinner, my hosts invited me to a restauranton the Hrazdan River in Yerevan.The restaurant sits in a row of restaurantswhere their specialty is khorovadz (grilledmeat and vegetables). The restaurant, whichhas different open bungalows that overlooka large dance floor, was packed to its capacityof 1,000. Soviet and modern fashions met onthe dance floor, as people danced to the tuneof Armenian and international music. A few“Shakiras” were on their cell phones as theyconquered the dance floor. The parking lotreflected the new wealth of Armenia’s elite:Mercedes, BMWs, Hummers, were parked infront of the restaurant. In addition to theoutdoor parking, it had a parking structuresimilar to a mall parking structures in California.It was filled with the newest modelsof European and American cars.Prices in the restaurants and the storesare very similar to the prices in L.A. Theconstruction of new homes and buildingshas filled appliance and home furnishingstores with abundant products. Most areimported, and therefore heavily taxed. Andyet, business is brisk: Many diaspora-Armenianswho have second homes in Yerevan,or work and live there, and the well-to-dolocals are in the stores searching for thenewest products. The construction boom ofthe early 2000s has helped the diaspora andlocal Armenians to mix and mingle. Theyeither do business together, or they findthemselves living next door to one another,closing the gap that was artificially createdby the “iron curtain.”The local women, who make up the biggernumber of the population, have joined theindustrialized world by their heavy presencein the work force. They greet guests at thereception desks in the hotels, they take touristson tours of the country, they are doctors,lawyers, engineers, housekeepers, etc.Common among them is the love for fashionand brand names. Whereas during the Sovietera, a well-tailored suit, or a custom-madepair of shoes made them feel special amongthe nomenklatura, today they wear brandnameclothing, watches, handbags, shoes,and jewelry. Depending on their status insociety, these can be real or fake. Speaking offake, some women have paid visits to plasticsurgeons, to improve their looks Hollywoodstyle.The reaction of my localhosts to Ararat was the sameas mine: They lamentedits captivity at the handof a foreign country. Thediscussion we had aboutArarat could have takenplace in any Armenian homein the diaspora.One evening, the CEO of one of the hospitalsin the city, whose husband is in thegovernment, invited me to dinner. Our conversationranged from family matters tomedicine to women’s issues, to fashion andpolitics. It was no different from having dinnerwith a well-educated and well-roundedwoman in L.A. When the young waiter offeredher the wine list, she went through itcarefully and then proceeded to order thewine, after we had selected our main course.Once the wine bottle arrived at the table, shefollowed the etiquette of wine tasting: shechecked the color of the wine, she swirledthe glass, smelled the wine, and finally approvedthe bottle. She was the new face ofthe Armenian woman: a strong, beautiful,and confident woman who felt comfortableboth in her career and in entertaining herguest from abroad.A few couples occupied the next table toours. They were all locals; the ladies were wellcoiffed and dressed to their teeth. Judgingfrom appearances, a new class of wealthy localsfeels comfortable in their roles as businessmenand businesswomen. They enjoytheir newly acquired wealth. Their conversationsconcern issues familiar to all people inthe global economy.Side by side with the wealthy are the poorin Yerevan and the villages. Many youngpeople have converged on the city in searchof employment. Their presence in the constructionindustry is noticeable. Unlike thesecurity net provided to the poor in the West,the Armenians suffer from the lack of socialservices. The diaspora has been instrumentalto better their lot. Creation of jobs willprovide the unemployed with opportunities,and once the government implementsa functioning tax system their condition willimprove.I will rewind my impressions to May 28, theDay of Independence of the First Republic. Itwas above 100 degrees in Sardarabad, wherethe Armenians defeated the advancing Turkisharmies and on May 28, 1918, proclaimedan independent republic. Local and foreigndignitaries, diaspora Armenians, and themasses had all converged on Sardarabad totake part in the celebrations of a national holiday.Different regiments of the armed forcesmarched in the presence of the president andother dignitaries, three jet fighters zoomedoverhead leaving behind trails of Armenia’stricolor flag, and parachutists impressed thecrowds with their jumps. Representativesfrom different regions of Armenia had setup booths to exhibit their art and products.Large umbrellas advertised Coca Cola andJermuk side by side. Eastern and Western Armenianmingled, uniting Armenians in theirrespect for history and survival.On the way back to Yerevan, I shared a freeride with the locals on one of the new smallbuses provided by the authorities for the occasion.The bus gave me much-needed shelterfrom the baking sun and the crowds. On ourway out of the compound, small groups ofdemonstrators waving Armenian flags andchanting “Levon, Levon,” were proceeding tothe monument. They were marching to joinex-President Levon Ter Petrossian, who haddecided to hold his own celebration. It’s sadthat May 28, which symbolizes the unity of allArmenians, was utilized to divide the nation.A week later, at the Zvartnots Airport, the expresidentpatiently and courteously waitedin line with his security to check in on thesame flight to Paris. As we exited the plane atCharles de Gaulle, he and a colleague walkedtoward baggage claim and disappeared in theanonymity of the airport.The bus ride back from Sardarabad to Yerevanwas very interesting. I was the onlynon-local on the bus. Three elderly mensitting next to me discussed the March 1events. They blamed Ter-Petrossian forinstigating the events at a time when theKarabakh issue was once again on the internationalcommunity’s agenda. One of themen asked me where I came from, and proceededto discuss the U.S. presidential campaign.“Obama has recognized the Genocide.We hope he wins the elections,” hesaid. Once again, a common concern brokethe artificial divide between a local and adiaspora Armenian. The tables had turned,this time; it was a local who showed concernfor issues that involved an Armenian-American. From my seat, I had the luxuryto view Mount Ararat for miles. As the buskept on moving, and the discussion amongthe three men kept on getting more heated,I wondered where else I would go throughsuch an experience. Then, the highlight ofmy trip came: The main discussant of thethree announced that he would sing a song.As my eyes were fixated on Ararat, my earshad the pleasure to hear the song, “Tsaynme Hentchets Erzroumi Hayots lerneren”.Without a blink, I joined him. A diasporaand a local Armenian had united their voicesin a nationalistic song, against the backdropof majestic Ararat. This time, the “artificial”barrier between Mount Ararat and us haddisappeared. At the end of the song, ourduet met with enthusiastic applause fromour audience.That was the defining moment of my trip.What draws me to Armenia and what do Ihave in common with the locals? My travelsto Armenia have been for philanthropic projects,for a search for historical, spiritual, andphilosophical identity. The search transcendsall boundaries and distances. According toour daughter, Taleen, who has made numeroustrips to Armenia, “It’s the missing piecein the puzzle that draws us to Armenia.” It’sa piece of the mosaic of being an Armenianthat draws me to Armenia.f


24 The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008


The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008


The Armenian Reporter | August 2, 2008SAVE AGENERATIONAWARDSDINNERFRIdAy, OcTObER 24, 2008

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