Eastern Prelacy: How to Become Culturally Well-rounded Armenians

Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America
138 East 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212-689-7810
Fax: 212-689-7168
e-mail: [email protected]
Contact: Iris Papazian

July 22, 2004

How to Become Culturally Well-rounded Armenians

New York, NY – Where in the world would you have an internationally
acclaimed theater persona, a renowned photo-journalist, a political
lobbyist, an Armenian- American military man, and an innovative
poet-artist speak to Armenian teenagers within weeks from each to
complement an already rich academic program?

Where would one analyze Siamanto’s Terenig, learn about Vartan
Aykegtsi, the relocation plans of Shah Abbas, the current political
climate in Armenia and Karabagh, and the teachings of the Gospel in a
young people-friendly manner? All that in addition to trips to
museums, screening of the movie Ararat (by special parental
authorization), visits to the Armenian Old Age Home, discussions about
current Armenian issues, Armenian theater workshops and Jeopardy

One need not go far; the Siamanto Academy of the Armenian National
Education Committee (ANEC), offers that opportunity. Known for its
well-formed academic program, the Academy which holds classes at
Woodside’s St. Illuminator’s Armenian Day School, exposes young
Armenians to current developments in the world of Armenian politics,
history, literature and the arts.

The accredited program encompasses instruction in language,
literature, history, current events and Christian Studies, which
covers a three-year syllabus. Christian Studies are administered by
Very Rev. Fr. Anoushavan Tanielian, who with the help of guest
lecturers, has engaged the students at their level in bringing the
Word to them. The Armenian curriculum has been developed over the
years by Dr. Herand Markarian and it encompasses, language and
literature disciplines. Mr. Harout Misserlian has developed a
comprehensive syllabus that incorporate the ethnogenesis of the
Armenian people through modern times.

It is our belief that when anchored in the rich Armenian culture,
students are stronger and more confident to serve as viable citizens
wherever they may be. In that vein, the Academy was happy to invite
Major Aram Sarafian, as a guest lecturer.

Following discussion about his dual heritage, Major Aram spoke of his
military deployments to Bosnia & Croatia, Afghanistan, and Kuwait and
Iraq and about how his Armenian background provided opportunities to
interact with the local Armenian communities, officials of Armenian
descent working for the United Nations and other Armenian-Americans in
the military.

As Siamanto Academy student, Tamar Samuelian said, “I enjoyed Major
Aram Sarafian’s presentation very much. It sort of gave us an idea of
what the other soldiers are doing presently in Iraq, Kuwait and
wherever else troops are located. His presentation also taught us
that being Armenian . can be very beneficial to us . It can also help
others learn about Armenians. I also learned you don’t necessarily
have to be known throughout the world, to be important.”

Harry Koundakjian, the internationally known Associated Press
photo-journalist, was also invited to address the Academy
students. Mr. Koundakjian’s interesting selection of slides depicted
important events of the last 50 years, when he covered events in the
Middle East and especially Armenia. His travels in more than 30
countries recorded the lives of kings, presidents, our catholicoi,
famous writers like William Saroyan, singers like Charles Aznavour,
artists, dancers like Noreyev, Fonteyn as well as political and
national, religious leaders. Harry was in Armenia to record the
earthquake. Among Koundakjian’s favorite photographs is a picture he
shot of the raising of the Armenian Tricolor, at the United Nations
when Armenia was accepted as a member to the world body.

Kevork Mourad, the talented artist who had his artistic formation in
Armenia and who has exhibited extensively in the United States and
Armenia, showed a power point presentation of his technique and
works. He also gave a brief overview about Armenian art and
artists. Mr. Mourad’s interactive presentation ended with drawings by
the students.

Nora Armani, the much-anticipated, internationally acclaimed stage,
film and television personality, held a theatrical workshop for the
students. The session held in Armenian, elicited impromptu responses
and improvisations by the students. After an introduction about
Armenian and international theater, the artist showed the students
practical acting techniques.

A slide presentation “This Summer in Karabagh” and commentary by Neery
Melkonian, Founder and Executive Director of NK Arts, a non-profit
organization committed to stimulating economic growth and social
recovery in the Nagorno Karabagh Republic, was a presentation of
stunning visual overview of various NK Arts initiatives including the
production of the annual Festival of Shushi. NK Arts provides
vocational training and local jobs, introduces basic business
principles, and sets up oversight and management structures for this
emerging nation also known as Artsakh.

Armenian National Committee (ANC) New York director, Antranik
Vartanian was another welcome guest. Following a presentation of the
work engendered and propagated by the ANC one of the two Armenian
lobbying groups in Washington D.C., Mr. Vartanian showed a BBC
documentary. “Armenia: The Betrayed” was an authoritative account of
the history of the Armenian Genocide and the Turkish government policy
of its denial. Mr. Vartanian gave a historical background about the
inception of the ANC on the 50th anniversary of the Armenian
Genocide. Now, 36 states have accepted the Armenian Genocide.

The Siamanto Academy sponsored by the Armenian National Education
Committee meets on Saturdays at the St. Illuminator’s Armenian School
in Woodside. All graduates of Armenian schools in the New York, New
Jersey area are invited to take this valuable opportunity to further
their knowledge of the Armenian language and culture. This year, ANEC
invited Dn. Krikor Lakissian to serve as the principal of the
Academy. Dn. Lakissian has been instrumental in transmitting the love
of the Armenian ethos to the students in addition to his role as
principal and occasional instructor. Ms Gilda B. Kupelian continues to
lend her support and active participation in the supervision and
accreditation process of the program.