Editor’s Note: Each week the Armenian Weekly receives a number of press releases from various organizations in the community. Because the space in our paper is limited and determines how much we can publish on a weekly basis, we often cannot accommodate every story in its full form. This is why we are trying something new. In an effort to reflect how our news appears in print, we will be featuring organizational news in the form of weekly ‘briefings,’ which will be categorized by their relationship to our newspaper.
News from Our Local Community
WATERTOWN, Mass.—Fifth grade students from St. Stephen’s’ Armenian Elementary School took a trip to Armenia this May for two weeks, marking the school’s the fifteenth consecutive year that SSAES has brought graduating students to Armenia to internalize their understanding of Armenian history by experiencing their ancestral homeland, to connect with contemporary Armenian students, and to contribute to the development of modern Armenia. Students look forward to experiencing the cultural and religious sites that many have only seen in pictures: the Babig and Dadig monument in Artsakh, the cathedral of Etchmiadzin, the Datev monastery, the battle site of Sardarabad, the Genocide Memorial at Dzidzernagapert. While in Yerevan, SSAES students engaged with other students from Tumo Center for Creative Technologies, an afternoon technology and recreation center, as well as the Avedisian School. To follow student experiences on the SSAES Armenia trip, visit their blog, which has been cataloguing the entire trip and reactions of the students.
NEW YORK—June 9 concluded the most recent session of the Siamanto Academy, a two-year program for young adults, hosted by the Armenian National Education Council (ANEC), an organization comprised of appointees from the Armenian Prelacy and the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of the Eastern U.S., whose mission is to promote Armenian culture and community in the United States, through educational leadership and guidance for the schools, initiatives and activities under its jurisdiction. During the program, which met every second Saturday of each month from September through June, students were introduced to a variety of very interesting topics, from history to current events, offered by ANEC Director, historian Dr. Vartan Matiossian. On two occasions this year, they had the pleasure of hosting guest speakers: Siamanto Academy alumnus and author of four books Lucine Kasbarian, and attorney Anahid Ugurlayan. The Siamanto Academy will resume its classes again in September. For more information contact ANEC by calling (212) 689-7810 or e-mail email@example.com.
News from ARF’s Eastern Region
DETROIT, Mich.—On June 9, the Armenian National Committee of Michigan worked with members of the Metro Detroit Armenian Community to put on a major celebration in honor of the centennial of the First Republic of Armenia. The event hosted as many as 2,000 people, took place in historic Greenmead Park in Livonia, and featured tents for Armenian vendors selling art, handicrafts, and food. People spent time visiting the different tents and enjoying authentic Armenian food. The ANC of Michigan was also present during the day, hosting politicians during the event. Live performances were provided by Sean Blackman, Onnik Dinkjian, Sofi Mkeyan, Shant Masoyan, Karnig Sarkissian, and also a local dance group led by Nayiri Karapetian and Dickran Callan. The Detroit Armenian community would like to extend a word of gratitude to the Committee and volunteers who made the event a success.
Organizational News from North America
CALIFORNIA—The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS) celebrated its 20th anniversary with a special gala held at Vertigo Event Venue in Glendale, Calif., on June 2. The evening was hosted by comedians Lory Tatoulian, Mary Basmadjian and Movses Shakarian. Over 180 members of the Armenian LGBTQ community, their families, friends and supporters reflected on past achievements, and looked forward to continuing to empower new generations of Armenians who seek a platform where their ethnic and sexual identities can converge. Awards were presented to various members of the organization, including Azad Mazmanian, who started the social circle in the nineties that eventually evolved into GALAS, and Transgender Army reservist Rudy Akbarian, who recently spoke out publicly against President Trump’s plan to ban transgender individuals from military service. The event also saw GALAS renew its pledge to building bridges with other LGBTQ and Armenian community organizations. In recent years, a close partnership with the Yerevan-based PINK Armenia NGO has been developed, which aims to provide support for the full protection of the rights of LGBTQ people in Armenia. For more information about GALAS, visit www.galasla.org.
WASHINGTON D.C.—This year, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will be featuring the people of Armenia and its extensive diaspora through a slate of programming that will highlight the nation’s “handmade traditions.” The program, entitled “Armenia: Creating Home” will span ten days from June 27 to July 1 and from July 4 to 8 and will take place on the National Mall between 7th and 12th streets. Admission is free and festival hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, with evening concerts by Armenian musicians beginning at 6:30 p.m. and a special fireworks display June 30. Throughout the program, dozens of artisans, designers, cooks and performers will share their skills and stories through workshops, interactive demonstrations, and discussion sessions all “highlighting the importance of cultural-heritage enterprise in the face of change.” Visitors will be able to interact viscerally with Armenian culture and taste, for example, regional specialties like ghapama (stuffed pumpkin) and gata (Armenian cake). Photo by Narek Harutyunyan, Smithsonian Institution. For more information on the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, visit folklife.si.edu.
Organizational News from Armenia
YEREVAN—ONEArmenia has recently partnered with UK-based nonprofit The HALO Trust for a three-year long program that will clear all known landmines in Artsakh by 2020. Their first fundraising campaign, Jobs Not Mines, will fund the clearance of a minefield located meters away from the 18th century Kavakavank Monastery in Artsakh’s southeast Hadrut region. The HALO Trust has already cleared all other minefields surrounding the monastery, leaving the “G-15A, Mendeleneta 2B” minefield located on the northern slope of the Mengelenata Hill left. “Jobs Not Mines” will train and employ two teams of 8 local deminers over the next two years, providing them with a steady, higher-than-average income, benefits, and health insurance as they work to make the Kavakavank Monastery mine-free. For context, during the Artsakh War of 1988-1994, Armenian and Azeri forces laid landmines and other explosive ordnance in defensive positions across what is today the Republic of Artsakh. Many still remain, and since 1995, there have been 376 civilian casualties resulting from landmines and unexploded ordnance in Artsakh, making Artsakh’s landmine casualty rates one of the highest in the world. One-third of casualties have been children. To learn more about the program, and contribute to “Jobs Not Mines,”visit their campaign page. All donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, by an anonymous donor.