Florida resident Tamar Kassarjian recently published her first children’s book entitled The Secret Language Method. The Weekly recently asked Kassarjian about her life and journey to publishing the book, which encourages learning and using one’s mother language, in this case Armenian.
Talar Keoseyan: Please tell me a little about yourself.
Tamar Kassarjian: My name is Tamar Kassarjian. I’m 27 and live in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I currently work as a medical assistant at a doctor’s office while pursuing my master’s in healthcare administration as a full-time graduate student. My cultural identity has been an integral part of my life from a young age, manifesting through my involvement in Armenian dance, various cultural organizations and more. As years passed, I always sought out resources showcasing diverse and inclusive characters that resonated with my experiences. My passion for Armenian heritage has grown deeper as I embraced various leadership roles within my community and abroad.
This year will be my sixth year at my local Armenian Church, St. David Armenian Church, here in Boca Raton, FL, as a kindergarten teacher. I am also a proud member and hold multiple executive positions for Armenian organizations, such as the Armenian Relief Society and Armenian Youth Federation in South Florida. Holding these positions within my community has catalyzed my passion project. In November 2020, I created a small shop called HYEChains, making custom Armenian-lettered keychains and more to raise money for the Artsakh War. Over the last year, I am proud to say I wrote and self-published my first children’s book called The Secret Language Method.
Keoseyan: How did you come up with the concept of your book?
Kassarjian: Being an Armenian Sunday school teacher, especially to younger students, I was inclined to write a book that encouraged and motivated them to want to speak their mother language, Armenian, more often. I started writing in June of 2022, right after the school year ended. The idea of The Secret Language Method came about because, growing up, Armenian was always my secret language that no one ever knew, especially living in South Florida. As our communities have become more multicultural and multilingual, the future generation, now more than ever, has to be given the opportunity to relate to Armenian literature in a fun and unique manner. With my book, I aim to inspire and empower young leaders to explore their rich Armenian heritage and utilize their beautiful, unique language.
Throughout the book, the three main characters, Narine, Aren and Alek, find themselves in different situations and learn how to utilize the secret language method to help them express their feelings. I felt it’s important to instill confidence in our next generation for them to express their feelings using their mother language. Statistically, children in this age group absorb new information and experiences at a much higher rate than any other age group. This also goes hand in hand with the different emotions they learn to process or express. This book is written with the intention of incorporating these fundamental principles.
Keoseyan: What message do you want to send Armenian youth?
Kassarjian: The most significant message I want the Armenian youth to take away from this is to never to forget your mother language. “Քո Մայր լեզուն չմոռանա՛ս…” Silva Kaputikyan said. This is one of my favorite quotes, and it’s actually printed on the back of my bookmarks. With everything going on in Armenia right now, it is crucial to stay true to who we are and never forget how our ancestors fought for their lives to allow the youth of the next generation to be where they are today.
Secondly, urge the use of the Armenian language to express your feelings, because it will spark a conversation about the language you are speaking and can lead to educating an individual about what is happening in Armenia today. Expressing your feelings is very important, so make it even more critical and cool by doing it in Armenian first and then in English. Don’t feel shy about knowing another language many others may not know. It’s your superpower, so use it to your advantage.
Keoseyan: Any other books in the process?
Kassarjian: Yes, yes, yes! I plan on writing a series of three books, each following and being narrated by a different sibling of the three. The first book, The Secret Language Method, follows Narine’s journey as she narrates how she uses the method with her younger brothers. The second and third books follow Aren and Alek’s journeys in another story. The second book is already in the works and currently being edited and ready for illustrations, so hopefully, next year I will have the second book out.
I recently had a book reading at Barnes and Noble here in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where there were about 20 children in attendance, including all their parents. They were so excited to have a book they could relate to about knowing such a powerful and unique language that many may not understand. They asked if I could write more books showcasing different parts of Armenian culture. This fall, I will be doing a book tour in various cities along the East Coast, visiting Armenian schools and churches. If you’re interested in having a book reading in your town, contact me at email@example.com.
Keoseyan: What are your goals in the next 10 years?
Kassarjian: In the next ten years, I will, God willing, be 37 and hope to have found my person and have a happy, healthy family, working in my career and being proud of all of my accomplishments. I hope to have all three books finished and be able to read them to my kids one day. I’d love to have my book showcased in various Armenian bookstores and sold
worldwide. I also hope to have made some difference in the Armenian community, locally or regionally, encouraging our youth to read more and speak more Armenian. My primary goal with this book through all of this, whether it be in the next 5, 10 or even 20 years, would be to hear that someone read my book as a kid, and it encouraged them to be proud of their heritage and speak more Armenian growing up and maybe even pass on that love to their own kids.