Last week, Anna Hakobyan, a prominent Armenian journalist and the wife of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, took a two-day visit to the Boston area as part of a larger US tour. While visiting, she enjoyed a packed schedule, which included speaking at a sold-out gala on Friday for the City of Smile charitable foundation, which raised nearly $150,000 to fund cancer treatments for children in Armenia. Her trip also included several pit stops in Watertown to visit several landmark establishments of the Armenian community, including the Hairenik building and St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School.
At the Hairenik offices, George Aghjayan, Chair of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Eastern Region Central Committee, led Hakobyan on an informative tour of the ARF’s archives. Hakobyan viewed some of the Eastern Region’s items on display, including the original copy of Armenia’s declaration of independence from 1918. Hakobyan made it a rather multi-sensorial experience as she seemed particularly interested in the bound and historic papers of the newspaper archives, even smelling the old books that contain Hairenik and Armenian Weekly pages, dating back to 1899.
Ahead of her visit to Hairenik office, Hakobyan was warmly-received at St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary school on Friday morning, where she and her delegation visited the classrooms and interacted with the students, who asked insightful questions and displayed impressive knowledge of the Armenian language and poetry.
Later that the evening, she ventured to the Westin Hotel in Waltham, where she was the keynote speaker for the City of Smile fundraiser, an organization whose board she heads. “In wealthy and developed countries, cancer is just a disease,” she told the audience, “but in many less-developed countries, it is equal to a death sentence.”
“I dream to establish . . . a hospital in Armenia which has all of the necessary drugs and techniques so no parent has to take their child to Europe, Russia, or the United States. My dream is that our children stay at home in Armenia and receive treatment in close proximity of their houses.”
While in Boston, she also met with medical professionals and students at Harvard and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also visited the Armenian Heritage Park on the Greenway.
Hakobyan’s entire trip to the United States will span 17 days and five cities; it is primarily devoted to fundraising for City of Smile Foundation and the My Step Foundation. In addition, there will be meetings with the Armenian community.