BETHESDA, Md.—Just before going on Christmas break, students at the Soorp Khatch Hamasdegh Armenian School participated in a letter-writing activity and fundraiser for their Syrian-Armenian counterparts living in war. The students drew beautiful pictures and wrote heartfelt letters to the children in Syria. The most eager to write were the younger students, whose letters were full of compassion and hope for the new year, as well as best wishes for a Christmas filled with many presents.
The students collected $347.68 and the Hamasdegh School PTA matched it for a total of $700. One student said to his mom, “Why didn’t you tell me about this earlier? I would have brought my whole piggy bank!” It is amazing what a small community like the Hamasdegh student body can accomplish in a span of half an hour.
The activity was part of the Hamasdegh community’s efforts to not only teach students about their language, history, culture, and religion, but to help them understand that they are part of a global community of Armenians. By learning about current events affecting the diaspora, such as the plight of the Syrian-Armenian community, the students not only developed a greater appreciation for their lives in the United States, but were equally motivated to extend a helping hand to their Armenian brethren living in extreme uncertainty.
Making connections with children who live half way around the world but who share a common language and culture helped the Hamasdegh students develop a sense of belonging to a larger community of Armenians. In the end, it was a wonderful teaching moment befitting the season’s spirit of giving by extending a hand and a message of hope to those less fortunate.