Immigrant Issues Explored At Ars, Pacific Clinics Community Forum


Monday, December 17th, 2012 | Posted by Contributor

The panelists with moderator at the ARS forum

GLENDALE-“Issues of Immigrants,” the third community forum organized
jointly by the Armenian Relief Society of Western US and Pacific
Clinics community behavioral health center, drew attention to how
immigrants can retain their identity while acculturating to a new

More than 50 people attended the panel that featured Dr. Levon
Jernazian, a licensed clinical psychologist, and Ardashes Kassakhian,
Glendale City Clerk on Wednesday, December 12 at the Glendale Youth
Center. (The series of community forums continues with a panel
discussion on “Divorce and Child Custody” on Thursday, December 19.)

ARS Regional Executive chairperson Lena Bozoyan delivered the opening
remarks to the audience, which included City of Burbank Vice-Mayor
Emily Gabel-Luddy, Burbank City Clerk Zizette Mullins, as well as
Paula Devine, former chairperson of the Glendale Commission on the
Status of Women. On behalf of the board of Pacific Clinics, Zaven
Kazazian addressed the audience and expressed pride in partnering
with the ARS in this capacity.

The forum commenced with moderator Tamar Tufenkdjian, a Rose & Alex
Pilibos Armenian School teacher, providing an introduction on the
topic, which would address acculturation, adaptation, and generation
conflict issues. Tufenkdjian cited the fact that the United States is
a country made up of immigrants and gave mention to the importance
of finding solutions to ensure that the identities of immigrants do
not suffer when acculturating to a new society.

Dr. Levon Jernazian offered a psychological perspective on the topic,
noting it would not be culture-specific. He outlined individual factors
that play a role in whether or not a person would adjust well to a
new environment, including emotional maturity, educational level,
and any presence of emotional issues prior to immigrating. Moreover,
he explained various experiences that one may encounter as a result
of immigrating, such as adjustment problems, post-traumatic stress
disorder, and generational conflicts where some family members may
be more resilient in adapting to a new culture. The latter, he noted,
could result in disharmony between members of a family. Often times,
the male gender may be more rigid and less likely to adapt as quickly
as women or children may, he explained.

Jernazian said the issues that immigrants face between three and
five years of immigrating differ from their experiences five years
after arrival. After five years, an immigrant individual or family
usually “selects one of three alternatives in terms of adjustment,
as follows: 1) Absolute rigidity; 2) Complete assimilation; or 3)
Preserving their cultural core while at the same time adopting the
main values of the host culture.” Dr. Jernazian stressed that the
third alternative represents the healthiest one psychologically.

Ardashes Kassakhian mainly drew on subjective experiences to present
on this topic. He explained that acculturation and adaptation are
not issues unique only to Armenians. Kassakhian went on to pose
a rhetorical question of “What would an Armenian community such as
Glendale look like after 50 years” and cited Watertown, MA and Fresno,
CA as models to look at.

He provided a personal observation that communities with smaller
Armenian populations integrate well within the larger community,
whereas communities with larger Armenian populations remain more
introverted. The fact, however, that Armenian populations can be
found thriving around the world serves as a testament, he noted,
that Armenians can easily adapt. Kassakhian said more programs that
allow people to acculturate more easily are needed.

Both Jernazian and Kassakhian stressed the importance of immigrants
identifying the qualities in their identities that they want to
preserve. The audience was given the opportunity to pose questions
and received additional information from the panel on gender issues
and acculturation; where art plays a role; accents; and behavioral
issues among students.

The final community forum in this series, “Divorce and Child Custody,”
will take place on Wednesday, December 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the
Glendale Youth Center (211 W. Chestnut St., Glendale, CA). The forum
will feature panelists Rev. Ghevond Kirazian, Maral Babian, PhD,
PsyD; Mariam Vanounts, MFT Moderator: Suzanne Douzmanian, Chairperson,
Armenian Advisory Board, Pacific Clinics

For additional information on the community forum series, visit or contact the ARS Regional Headquarters at
(818) 500-1343.

The ARS of Western USA, established in 1984 and with regional
headquarters in Glendale, CA, has 27 chapters and more than 1,500
members in five western states. The ARS-WUSA operates a Social
Services Division, a Child, Youth, and Family Guidance Center, and
funds numerous youth programs, scholarships and relief efforts.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS