NEW YORK (A.W.)—Despite less than ideal weather conditions, approximately 100 college students from around the country participated in the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Eastern U.S. Norian Youth Connect Program (YCP) at Columbia University on March 3.
The YCP is organized by the ARS of Eastern U.S. twice a year. This latest installment was co-sponsored by the Armenian Society of Columbia University, and featured discussions on film production, human rights, Armenian identity, and Armenian culture.
ARS Eastern U.S. chair ungerouhi Talin Daghlian kicked off the weekend by welcoming attendees and presenting the various activities and the programs of the ARS, which include the ARS undergraduate and graduate scholarships; camperships provided to youth attending AYF Camp Haiastan; the rebuilding of the Stepanakert Soseh Kindergarten in Artsakh; helping families of martyred soldiers of Artsakh; sponsoring Metz Tagher Soseh Kindergarten in Hatrut region; and sponsoring orphans and students in Armenia and Artsakh. Daghlian also noted that this was the 10th anniversary of the YCP and presented slideshow of photos from past programs.
Former president of the New York Women in Film and Television and its advisory board’s current chair Alexis Alexanian was the first presenter of the weekend. Alexanian’s film credits include “Bonfire of the Vanities,” “A League of Their Own,” and “Striptease.” She co-founded InDigEnt with Gary Winick, John Sloss, and IFC. Alexanian also produced the television series “Long Way Round,” starring Ewan McGregor as well as the Ethan Hawke-directed “The Hottest State.” Alexanian spoke about her own Armenian heritage and reflected on her long career in film production. She shared stories of her work and discussed new distribution avenues. Alexanian’s inspirational talk was followed by a question and answer session with her on filmmaking, identity, and gender in the film industry.
Dr. Hayk Demoyan, Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum and Institute (AGMI) in Yerevan and U.S. Fulbright visiting scholar at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies of Harvard University then presented his newly published book Armenian Legacy in America: A 400-Year Heritage with a slide show featuring documents, artifacts, and photos documenting four centuries of Armenian presence in America. He said with the book, he wants to inform the American public on the role and place of the American Armenian Community in the U.S. and their contribution to this country.
ARS Norian YCP Director Dr. Khatchig Mouradian lecture, entitled “Love in the Time of Genocide” featured letters, poems, and memoirs from the Armenian Genocide. He shared several stories of the tragic period of our nation. He examined love letters and love poems written during the genocide, arguing that “Armenian deportees often found in romantic love a sense of normalcy in a world gone mad, and a form of resistance against the Ottoman Turkish effort to break apart, destroy, and annihilate.”
Sato Moughalian’s presentation concluded the program. Moughalian is a flutist in New York City with more than 30 chamber music recordings to her credit and artistic director of Perspectives Ensemble founded at Columbia University in 1993. For the past eight years, she has conducted archival research in Turkey, Israel, England, and France on the life and work of her grandfather, ceramicist David Ohannessian, and traced the history of his monumental tiled installations. Her presentation, titled “From Kütahya to Al-Quds: David Ohannessian and the Armenian Ceramics of Jerusalem,” took the students on a photographic journey into the history of Armenian Ceramics in the Ottoman Empire, and the incredible influence Armenian Ceramic artists had. In her presentation, she portrayed the beautiful pottery shops at Jerusalem and reflected on her grandfather’s efforts who survived deportation under the worst conditions and came to Jerusalem and mastered this art. He would later build an extensive export network and participated in the international exhibition.
ARS International Office Executive Director ungerouhi Verginie Touloumian and coordinator of the ARS, Inc. activities at the United Nations ungerouhi Aleek Sherikian presented the ARS’ involvement at the United Nations since 1975. The ARS has been involved in the affairs of UN through its various activities.
Throughout the day, the group of intellectually curious youth participated in question-and-answer sessions and discussions. The ARS YCP Director also announced that the next YCP of the year will take place on Nov. 3, at Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
The day of activity ended with a social dinner at Amity Hall, where all enjoyed the social atmosphere.
Below is Voice of Armenians NY’s video coverage of ARS YCP is available below.