BOSTON, Mass.—On Sat., Feb. 12, the 2011 Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Youth Connect Program (YCP) was held at Boston University. This program initially began in 1971 as a three-week intensive educational program and has, throughout the years, changed to meet the challenges of today’s students.
In 2010, the ARS introduced a new (and highly successful) format—a one-day seminar and social event—at New York University. In order to bring this program to several Armenian communities in the eastern region, the program will move its location every year.
Professor Asbed Kotchikian, a lecturer in the global studies department at Bentley University in Waltham, was program director again this year. With approximately 40 students in attendance, Kotchikian welcomed the students and challenged them to think about their role in the future of Armenia and the diaspora.
Professor Christina Maranci of Tufts University captivated the group with a PowerPoint presentation on the history of Armenian art and architecture. Dating back to the Byzantine Age, Armenian churches bridged the Roman and Persian Empires with amazing architectural techniques. Bits of painted reliefs are still evident on some of the remaining walls depicting Christ and his followers in scenes that tell the history of Armenian civilization in ancient times. Maranci suggested that many of these ancient churches, which are in serious disrepair, are vital to our history and must be preserved. As students are made aware of our important historical properties, they will focus not only on our future but on our amazing contributions in art and architecture.
The afternoon seminar consisted of a roundtable discussion titled “Armenian-Turkish Relations: Beyond Rhetoric” featuring Taner Akcam, professor of history and political science and chair of Armenian Genocide studies at Clark University in Worcester, and Simon Payaslian, professor of political science and chair of modern Armenian history and literature at Boston University. Akcam and Payaslian presented their positions on the present and future conditions of Armenian-Turkish relations. Students were enthralled by the discussion and were anxious to participate in the Q&A that followed.
The educational seminar concluded with several presentations on internship opportunities by such organizations as Birthright Armenia, Armenian Volunteer Corp, Armenian National Committee of America, Armenian Library and Museum of America, and the Armenian Relief Society Central Executive. Students were encouraged to pursue available positions to benefit both themselves and the Armenian community.
The evening ended at Byblos restaurant, a Middle Eastern restaurant with music and dancing in Norwood. The students had a wonderful time together, socializing and celebrating their heritage.
The ARS YCP is open to Armenian students 18-25 years old interested in learning about Armenian history and culture. For information on next year’s program, visit www.arseastus.com.