A Generational Question

Asbarez Armenian News

Aug 22 2017


The late Marilyn Arshagouni with her grand-daughters, Ani and Marie.

BY MARIE PAPAZIAN
Barnard College of Columbia University Class of 2021
Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program – Summer 2017

“If you don’t speak Armenian, are you really Armenian?”

On our walk to the ANCA offices under the warm D.C. sun, my peers were debating this question loudly. Passionate exclamations ensued, involving the assertion that losing one’s ability to speak Armenian was equivalent to assimilating altogether: ignorant and morally reprehensible. I walked along quietly, pondering the various assertions of my peers. I appreciated where these arguments came from. Part of me agreed, part of me felt ashamed, and part of me began to question the validity of my Armenian-ness. Little did I know, this was the same question my grandmother, as well as many other members of my family, have faced over the years.

I am fifth generation Armenian-American on my mom’s side, and third on my dad’s. My ancestors in the U.S. all managed to find marriageable Armenians. And so, I am considered by some to be “100% Armenian,” or “full Armenian.” That is, before they learn that my knowledge of the Armenian language is introductory at best.

My maternal grandmother, Marilyn Arshagouni, was born in 1935 to one of the earliest Armenian families to settle in Los Angeles – a shocking fact, given that the current Armenian population there is almost half a million. In childhood, she didn’t know many other Armenian families, and the language, while spoken by her father’s family, was not spoken in her home. Despite this lack of knowledge of Armenian, she was smart and hardworking, becoming the first junior at UCLA to be elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honors society, and later graduating with highest honors and a BA in English. The English language was her first love, and she went on to study English at graduate school.

When my grandmother married my grandfather in 1956, he began bringing her closer to Armenian culture. He was born and raised in the Armenian diaspora in Greece, and so he was a native speaker and had a strong sense of community. Once my grandmother met Richard Hovannisian, a graduate student of Armenian history at UCLA, she furthered her great, though untraditional, contributions to the Armenian community. She helped edit his dissertation, which would become the classic Armenia on the Road to Independence. She then went on to edit the first volumes of his four-volume History of the Republic of Armenia.

For over 25 years my grandmother taught English and history at the Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian High School in Encino, CA. And she and my grandfather were on the Armenian Monument Council that established the first genocide monument on public land in California.

Given her great influence on the Armenian community, I was stunned when I learned the accusations that she bore the brunt of as an Armenian born in the U.S. It is an accusation that both of my parents have heard countless times. It is one to which I am just now being exposed.
My ancestors have lived in the U.S. for over a hundred years. Despite this, my love of Armenian culture is strong, and my yearning to give back to my community even stronger. Ours is an important history and an important story. Each of our experiences is different. Some of us grew up in the midst of an Armenian-speaking community. Others, like my grandmother and me, grew up surrounded at home by an incredible library of Armenian books and culture and friends.

Although my grandmother was never fluent in Armenian as a child, her immersion into the community led her to pick up a considerable amount of the language. It was the same with my mother. I expect that it will be the same for me. I still plan to study Armenian in college. But, as I do so, I will remember that our goal as a diaspora should be inclusiveness, as a nod to our shared, bitter, and rocky history. It is counterproductive to shun those who have not had the privilege of a strong cultural or linguistic upbringing. As Yeghishe Charents, the famous Armenian writer and poet, wrote, “Oh, Armenian people, your only salvation lies in the power of your unity.”

And so, I disagree with the assertion that one must speak Armenian to truly be Armenian. If that were the case, my grandmother would be an outcast in our greater community, despite her countless contributions. As members of a diaspora, exposure to the Armenian language isn’t all that unites us. It is our love of community, our blood, our shared history and future, and our determination to help in any way we can. I am beginning to learn that. Although I will continue to face questions by my peers about the validity of my Armenian identity, I embrace my ethnicity wholeheartedly. And as my grandmother did, I will continue to do my part, not only as an Armenian, but as an Armenian in America.

In Gyumri, 11 Families Receive New Apartments

Asbarez Armenian News

Aug 22 2017


Mr. and Mrs. Sarkis and Nune Sepetjian are joined by Gyumri Mayor Samvel Balasanyan in cutting the ribbon

GYUMRI, Armenia—After decades of waiting and living in makeshift homes, 11 families, mainly elderly residents of Armenia’s second largest city who endured the 1988 earthquake, received apartments, courtesy of Los Angeles-based benefactors Sarkis and Nune Sepetjian and their family, through whose generosity these homes became a reality.

During a special ceremony on Tuesday, the Sepetjians, along with Gyumri Mayor Samvel Balasanyan and governor of the Shirak Province, Artur Khachatryan handed keys to the 11 families, the names of whom were drawn in a special lottery coordinated by the municipality and the Armenian Relief and Development Association (ARDA), which undertook the construction project. The city of municipality contributed 15 percent of the costs of the construction.

The building that houses the 11 apartments

Residents of Gyumri gathered at a special ceremony, which included the traditional blessing of the building housing the apartments. After the residents were handed the keys to their new homes, a ribbon cutting was held to allow the families to go to their new homes. The apartments are partially furnished and are heated.

“I am grateful that you gave me this opportunity to help the deserving elderly or the needy,” said Sarkis Sepetjian, whose wife, Nune, is originally from Gyumri. “For me it is a duty to help those in need.”

The Sepetjian family

According to Azatutyun.am, he pledged that he will continue to advance the housing issue in Gyumri and promised to engage his friends to join him in building “however many homes are needed in this city.”

In his remarks, Sepetjian reflected on his own childhood.

“I wasn’t born rich,” said Sepetjian, explaining that his father was a refugee. “I am the son of poor people and I know what it means to be in need.”

The Sepetjian family’s generosity is known to the Los Angeles Armenian community. This past March, Mr. and Mrs. Sepetjian and their family were the sponsors of the annual Armenian Cultural Foundation Gala Banquet. They have also been-staunch supporters of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, the Prelacy Schools, and the Prelacy itself. In January, the Sepetjians sponsored the Prelacy’s annual New Year and Christmas celebration hosted by Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian.

Balasanyan, the mayor of Gyumri, said that most of the people living in the makeshift homes that are metal containers turned into huts, are elderly who require care. That is why, the apartment complex will offer social services, in addition to roofs over their heads.

He added that it was a very difficult process to choose the recipients of the homes and expressed hope that in the future other families will have the opportunity to have their own homes.

“I hope that very soon we can provide housing to everyone,” said Khachatryan, the Shirak governor , adding, “and once and for all close this chapter of our city and province.”

Archbishop Derderian Leads Prayers for ABMDR Patients at Diocese Churches

Asbarez Armenian News

Aug 22 2017


The ABMDR team at the meeting with Archbishop Hovnan Derderian (center) and the Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Yardemian.

LOS ANGELES—On Sunday, August 20, during Holy Mass at St. Leon Cathedral in Burbank, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese, offered special prayers for patients of the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR). In his sermon, the Archbishop praised the life-saving mission of ABMDR, and called on congregants to continue to support its work.

To raise public awareness of the ABMDR mission and encourage grassroots involvement in the organization’s activities, the Western Diocese has observed a special Prayer Day in honor of ABMDR patients for the past several years. The Prayer Day is marked at St. Leon Cathedral as well as Armenian churches across Southern California.

In the course of his sermon on August 20, Archbishop Derderian stated that participating in the work of ABMDR is tantamount to praying and accomplishing a Godly mission. The Archbishop pledged the continuous support of the Diocese and appealed to all parishes to embrace the work of ABMDR, by joining its ranks as potential bone marrow stem cell donors, signing up as volunteers, and attending its public-benefit events — such as the upcoming “Match for Life,” the ABMDR’s 18th annual Gala, which will be held on Sunday, August 27, in Los Angeles.

The ABMDR team outside St. Leon Cathedral

“Archbishop Derderian, who is one of ABMDR’s most avid and longtime supporters, exemplifies the type of leadership that works tirelessly for the well-being of our community,” said ABMDR president Dr. Frieda Jordan. “We are honored and grateful for the Primate’s ongoing guidance and support.”

Following the church service, numerous parishioners had the opportunity to become more familiar with the activities of ABMDR, as a team of Board members and volunteers from the organization answered questions and handed out information about becoming donors.

Subsequently Archbishop Derderian, along with the Very Rev. Fr. Dajad Yardemian, met with the ABMDR team at the Diocese. The discussion centered on ABMDR’s most recent achievements as well as its plans for the immediate future. At the conclusion of the meeting, Archbishop Derderian presented scarves from Holy Echmiadzin to all members of the ABMDR team, as tokens of his appreciation.

Established in 1999, ABMDR, a nonprofit organization, helps Armenians and non-Armenians worldwide survive life-threatening blood-related illnesses by recruiting and matching donors to those requiring bone marrow stem cell transplants. To date, the registry has recruited over 29,000 donors in 42 countries across four continents, identified over 4,190 patients, and facilitated 30 bone marrow transplants. For more information, call (323) 663-3609 or visit abmdr.am.

Hollywood Prepares for Aznavour’s Walk of Fame Star Unveiling

Asbarez Armenian News

Aug 22 2017


A worker lays concrete ahead of placing Charles Aznavour’s star

HOLLYWOOD—Preparations were under way Monday for the unveiling ceremony of a Walk of Fame star dedicated legendary French-Armenian entertainer Charles Aznavour.

Agence France-Presse chronicled the preparations, with workers laying concrete and placing the star ahead of Thursday’s ceremony, which will take place at 11:30 a.m. at 6225 Hollywood Boulevard next to the historic Pantages Theatre..

The outline of Aznavour’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Aznavour was nominated by California Senate Pro Tem Kevin deLeon who will be attending the and speaking at the event.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced earlier that the Aznavour would be honored with the 2,618th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a solemn ceremony scheduled for Thursday, August 24, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. PDT. The star will be dedicated in the category of Live Performance.

“Charles Aznavour is a popular entertainer known around the world and loved by millions of fans across generations,” stated Ana Martinez, Producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies. “We are thrilled, as we know the people of his homeland France are to see his star dedicated on our historic Walk of Fame.”

Helping Emcee and Hollywood Chamber President/CEO Leron Gubler to unveil the star will be guest speakers California State Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León and director Peter Bogdanovich.

Hollywood Prepares for Aznavour’s Walk of Fame Star Unveiling

Asbarez Armenian News

Aug 22 2017


A worker lays concrete ahead of placing Charles Aznavour’s star

HOLLYWOOD—Preparations were under way Monday for the unveiling ceremony of a Walk of Fame star dedicated legendary French-Armenian entertainer Charles Aznavour.

Agence France-Presse chronicled the preparations, with workers laying concrete and placing the star ahead of Thursday’s ceremony, which will take place at 11:30 a.m. at 6225 Hollywood Boulevard next to the historic Pantages Theatre..

The outline of Aznavour’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Aznavour was nominated by California Senate Pro Tem Kevin deLeon who will be attending the and speaking at the event.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced earlier that the Aznavour would be honored with the 2,618th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a solemn ceremony scheduled for Thursday, August 24, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. PDT. The star will be dedicated in the category of Live Performance.

“Charles Aznavour is a popular entertainer known around the world and loved by millions of fans across generations,” stated Ana Martinez, Producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies. “We are thrilled, as we know the people of his homeland France are to see his star dedicated on our historic Walk of Fame.”

Helping Emcee and Hollywood Chamber President/CEO Leron Gubler to unveil the star will be guest speakers California State Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León and director Peter Bogdanovich.

Putin and Sargsyan to meet in Sochi

MediaMax, Armenia

Aug 22 2017

Photo: REUTERS

“The sides will discuss a number of key issues on political, economic, humanitarian and cultural bilateral cooperation. They will also touch upon the implementation of agreements, reached during Serzh Sargsyan’s working visit to Russia in March of 2017. 

Presidents will speak about issues on the perspectives of developing cooperation within the frames of EAEU and CSTO. The sides also plan to discuss current international and regional issues, including the settlement of NK issue,” the Armenian presidential press service reports.

http://www.mediamax.am/en/news/foreignpolicy/24742/

Putin and Sargsyan to meet in Sochi

MediaMax, Armenia

Aug 22 2017

Photo: REUTERS

“The sides will discuss a number of key issues on political, economic, humanitarian and cultural bilateral cooperation. They will also touch upon the implementation of agreements, reached during Serzh Sargsyan’s working visit to Russia in March of 2017. 

Presidents will speak about issues on the perspectives of developing cooperation within the frames of EAEU and CSTO. The sides also plan to discuss current international and regional issues, including the settlement of NK issue,” the Armenian presidential press service reports.

http://www.mediamax.am/en/news/foreignpolicy/24742/

Tel Aviv: Infiltration of top-secret intelligence base thwarted

Arutz Sheva, Israel
Aug 22 2017


Infiltration of top-secret intelligence base thwarted

Armenian national with a forged identity card arrested after he tried to enter the most classified army base of the Intelligence Corps.

Contact Editor
Arutz Sheva Staff, 22/08/17

A worker of Armenian origin was arrested after he tried to enter an IDF base in the center of the country using a forged identity card.

Yediot Ahronot reported that the suspect is employed in a company that provides catering services at the most classified base of the Intelligence Corps.

Last week, the suspect arrived at the base gates and told security guards that he had arrived to substitute another worker who had been absent from work that day. The security guards suspected him and examined the identity card he presented to them, after which they discovered that it belonged to another person and that the picture had simply been changed.

A police car called to the base gates arrested the suspect. Yediot Ahronot reported that IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot ordered the reclassification of all contractor companies employed by the IDF and that each employee be classified with the necessary security clearance in order to allow them to enter IDF bases in the future.

The IDF Spokesperson's Office said that "the incident was discovered following the alertness of the security guards at one of the Military Intelligence bases, and was forwarded to police for examination, in order to check additional cases involving use of false identity cards."

Tel Aviv: Infiltration of top-secret intelligence base thwarted

Arutz Sheva, Israel
Aug 22 2017


Infiltration of top-secret intelligence base thwarted

Armenian national with a forged identity card arrested after he tried to enter the most classified army base of the Intelligence Corps.

Contact Editor
Arutz Sheva Staff, 22/08/17

A worker of Armenian origin was arrested after he tried to enter an IDF base in the center of the country using a forged identity card.

Yediot Ahronot reported that the suspect is employed in a company that provides catering services at the most classified base of the Intelligence Corps.

Last week, the suspect arrived at the base gates and told security guards that he had arrived to substitute another worker who had been absent from work that day. The security guards suspected him and examined the identity card he presented to them, after which they discovered that it belonged to another person and that the picture had simply been changed.

A police car called to the base gates arrested the suspect. Yediot Ahronot reported that IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot ordered the reclassification of all contractor companies employed by the IDF and that each employee be classified with the necessary security clearance in order to allow them to enter IDF bases in the future.

The IDF Spokesperson's Office said that "the incident was discovered following the alertness of the security guards at one of the Military Intelligence bases, and was forwarded to police for examination, in order to check additional cases involving use of false identity cards."

Tel Aviv: Vigilant guards foil attempt by contract worker to enter sensitive IDF base

Ynet, Israel

Aug 22 2017
Vigilant guards foil attempt by contract worker to enter sensitive IDF base

Armenian-born employee of catering company tries to enter military intelligence base in central Israel while identifying as substitute for another worker who did not show up for work and using a fake ID.