Author Archive

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[Armenian Landscapes]

August 5, 2010

Ararat in the Summer

Samuel Lajikian Ararat in Summer 12 X 16 inch +

Credit: Samuel Lajikian

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[ACYOA Dispatches]: Profile: James Balakian.

August 5, 2010

By Levon Lachikyan

James Balakian, son of the famous American writer Peter Balakian, visited the land of his ancestral roots for the first time during the recent Armenian Church Youth Organization of America’s (ACYOA) service pilgrimage, which was held in July.

Born in London in 1988, James graduated high school in Hamilton, New York, and earned his degree in American history and political science from Bucknell University in May 2010.

Born in Teaneck, New Jersey, Peter Balakian is the author of five books of poetry, as well as the PEN/Martha Albrand Award winner “Black Dog of Fate” and the national bestseller “The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response,” winner of the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize. 

In elegant, moving prose, “Black Dog of Fate” charts Balakian’s growth and personal awakening to his family’s history and the horrifying aftermath of the Turkish government’s continued campaign to cover up one of the worst crimes ever committed against humanity. The book is dedicated to Balakian’s two children, Sophia Ann and James Gerard.

“Before my visit, Armenia was just imaginary for me. I am greatly impressed by the nature and architecture of the country. I am happy that I could find new friends,” James recounted.

The trip offered James the opportunity to travel throughout the country and see various cities. “Yerevan is a modern city. Gyumri has more of an older culture and is full of Armenian spirit. It is a welcoming town and people of Gyumri are friendlier. Gyumri seemed closer to me.” He also urges people who are planning to travel to Armenia to visit Gyumri, which suffered severely due to the 1988 earthquake.

This trip was what James described as his “first taste” of Armenia. He will, indeed, visit this wonderful country again. 

James with Grandma Noune
from Gyumri’s Soup Kitchen

James with Gyumri Soup kitchenbeneficiary Grandma Noune  

Credit: FAR Staff

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[FAR Fine Art Painter’s Program]: A Chance to Commune with Nature.

August 4, 2010

Several Armenian artists recently returned from a trip to Lake Sevan where they were able to focus on their work thanks to the FAR Fine Art Painter’s Program. For 10 years, FAR has worked with the Artists Union of Armenia to organize these excursions. The program covers transportation costs and provides food and supplies for the day trips, which are a welcome respite from Yerevan and a chance for these artists to immerse themselves in and be inspired by nature.

The program is incredibly important, as it helps to educate Armenian artists on the richness and treasures of their country, and gain a new perspective through which they can express themselves, according to FAR’s Press Secretary Levon Lachikyan.

FAR usually holds the trip three times a year and each artist thanked FAR with the gift of a painting.

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Credit: Levon Lachikyan

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[FAR Schools]: Ounjian School Continues to Grow.

July 31, 2010

Although construction has already been in progress for five months, an opening ceremony dedicated to the launch of the Ounjian School’s new sub building was held on July 8 in honor of its chief supporter Dr. Hovhannes (John) Ounjian’s the arrival at the project site.

The former N21 secondary school, which was completely ruined after the 1988 earthquake, was reconstructed due to the generous benevolence of Dr. Ounjian, who is from New York and also an honorable citizen of Gyumri. The school is named after the benefactor’s parents Armenak and Yeghisabet Ounjian.

Dr. Ounjian also undertook the expenses of the reinforcement and renovation of the school’s sub building, which will contain new classrooms, a library, and language room.

The Reverend Father Tateos Abdalian, a representative of the Armenian Apostolic Church in America (Eastern Diocese), opened the ceremony with a hearty blessing. During his welcome speech, FAR Country Director Bagrat Sargsyan recognized Dr. Ounjian’s mission in Gyumri, which enables 450 children study in favorable conditions. Since 2002, nearly 150 school graduates have also obtained higher education thanks to the support of Ounjian Scholarship Fund.

Dr. Ounjian, Shirak Regional Governor Ashot Giziryan, and several program executives carved their signatures in the wall of one of the rooms to commemorate the ceremony.

Several guests attended, including Armenia’s Deputy Regional Governor, FAR Programs Director Arto Vorperian, who was visiting from the USA, FAR Shirak Department Director Marina Bazayeva, ACYOA APS group members, students, teachers, and journalists.

Shortly after the schoolchildren’s acknowledgement speeches, Dr. Ounjian promised to support the school so that it will one day be rated as the best educational institution in the Republic of Armenia.

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Credit: FAR Staff

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[Armenian Landscapes]

July 29, 2010

St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, Yerevan

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Credit: Levon Lachikyan

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[Armenian Life]: One Nation, One Culture. An All-Armenian Festival.

July 29, 2010

By Levon Lachikyan

Armenia is a nation with a large diaspora. Armenians living abroad triple the country’s population. The reasons for this, of course, are different. The main reason is the Armenian Genocide of 1915, when hundreds of thousands of Armenians fled to Lebanon, Syria, Russia, Europe, America, and Australia as a result of Turkish massacres. Unfortunately, the migration continues today due to social hardships.

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Credit: Levon Lachikyan

The 4th annual All-Armenian Festival “One Nation, One Culture,” recently opened in Yerevan. It aims to tie together the Armenian Diaspora, offer Armenians an opportunity to relate to each other, and also promote Armenian culture. The festival is organized by the Republic of Armenia’s Ministry of the Diaspora, which approved the program at the end of last year. Within the frameworks of the festival, cultural events were initially held in different regions of the country and in all Diaspora communities to select the best participants.

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Credit: Levon Lachikyan

Fifteen hundred participants from 13 countries are visiting Armenia for this event. Half of them are from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), 131 are from the Middle East, 103 come from Europe, 42 are from the Northern America, and 80 are from Karabagh.

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Credit: Levon Lachikyan

In addition to the concerts, special classes for dance teachers from the Diaspora will be organized and the All-Armenian Conference of Representatives of Performance Art will take place.

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Credit: Levon Lachikyan

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[Armenian Life]: Golden Apricot’s Harvest.

July 23, 2010

By Levon Lachikyan

The Golden Apricot International Film Festival in Yerevan lasted for seven days. Initially, about 500 applications were submitted, but only 120 winning films were selected and screened for audiences. The films represented 45 different countries and 150 cinematography representatives visited Armenia during the festival.

The Moscow Cinema in Yerevan

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Credit: Levon Lachikyan

The festival also featured the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Canadian-Armenian filmmaker Atom Egoyan and 85th anniversary of prominent Armenian film director Henrik Malian.

The Festival’s closing ceremony took place on July 16 at Moscow Cinema. All invitees, who were members of the five international juries, walked the red carpet path into the cinema. I was invited to the ceremony as an art critic, during which the winners’ names were announced.

The Golden Apricot Red Carpet

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Credit: Levon Lachikyan

The Golden Apricot’s main prize for Best Feature Film was awarded to Cosmos by Turkish film director Reha Erdem. The prize for Best Armenian Panorama went to Arman Yeritsyan and Inna Sahakyan for The Last Tightrope Dancer in Armenia. Prizes were also awarded for Best Documentary Film, Ecumenical Jury Award, and the FPRESCI Jury Award, which went to Jasmila Zbanic for the film On the Path.

Golden Apricot International Festival Founder and Director Harutyun Khachatryan expressed his sadness that the festival had drawn to a close. But Ralph Yirikian, executive director of the Film Festival’s General Sponsor Viva Cell, asked everyone to cheer up — the 8th International Festival Golden Apricot lies right ahead!

The Closing Ceremony

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Credit: Levon Lachikyan