Posts Tagged ‘farusa’

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[FAR New York]

August 4, 2010

With profound sorrow we received the news of Mrs. Helen Mardigian’s passing away.

True humanitarians, the Mardigian Family, and Mrs. Helen Mardigian personally, have contributed significantly to many virtuous causes. In 2008 they established The Mardigian Family Foundation together with FAR to support Child Protection Programs in Armenia.

On behalf of the Fund for Armenian Relief, we express our sympathy and offer our prayers to the Mardigian family.

A note from Archbishop Khajag Barsamian.

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Credit: Artur Petrosyan

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[Dispatches From Armenia]: Lost in Translation.

July 29, 2010

I realize this title is kind of a cop out. But there’s some truth to it. I was lucky enough to constantly be around an Armenian or Russian speaker during my first two weeks here and I could easily get by with my Armenian “hello” and “thank you.”

Now, when I’m out wandering the streets of Yerevan, I run into some problems. The other day I asked for coffee and then I inadvertently refused it. (Refusing rich, delicious Armenian coffee is a now crime in my book, too.) We had to have a third party intervention. Just days before that, I asked for lemonade but ended up with pear juice. Worse things can happen due to my language deficiencies, I know. And at least I’m trying. I think I’ve mastered how to ask for a bottle of water, (essential in this heat) and now I’m working on the forms of you, us, we, etc. Small steps.

Lost in Yerevan

 

Credit: Hasmik Manukyan

One thing’s for certain — I could listen to Armenian for hours and stare at the Armenian signs I see everywhere because the alphabet fascinates me. Does that count? Regardless, I’m so appreciative that most Armenians I meet tolerate my bad pronunciation and dearth of vocabulary, even when their questions are met with my perplexed looks. Their patience and understanding are a testament to their warmth and understanding. Shnorhakal em Hayastan. 

Erin –

Etchings at Tatev Monastery

Credit: FAR Staff
 

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[ACYOA Dispatches]: Trip to Armenia Becomes a Character Building Experience.

July 28, 2010

By Levon Lachikyan

When Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) established the American Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA) in 1946, his aim was to join the two directions of the new Armenian-American generation’s education – Christian and Armenian.

The 2010 ACYOA ASP Group

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Credit: FAR Staff

Pursuing the same purpose, the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) has been organizing pilgrimages to the homeland in recent years. This summer, the ACYOA’s Armenia Service Program (ASP) partnered with FAR to focus volunteering efforts on FAR projects in Gyumri. During the trip (June 29 – July 20), the ASP group worked at FAR’s Ounjian School, which is undergoing renovations, and at the FAR Soup Kitchen, which serves Gyumri’s elderly community.

The group leader was the Rev. Tateos R. Abdalian, director of department for the Mission Parishes of Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern).

FAR’s Shirak Branch organized a very interesting itinerary, which allowed the youngsters to meet with their peers or with adults.

Fr. Tateos and the ASP Group
at FARs Children Center

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Credit: FAR Staff

The one-week of volunteer work in Gyumri and the travel throughout Armenia ensured opportunity for the ASPers to know Armenia from inside. They were fascinated by Gyumri’s architecture and met with families who had been living in temporary metal shelters for the more than twenty years since the earthquake hit. They listened to the wonderful music played by the children of Octet Music School, who must study in temporary shelters as well. At the same time, the ASPers witnessed the outpouring of support for the students of the Ounjian School. With great attention they listened to the stories of the soup kitchen beneficiaries and were surprised when, for instance, they learned that 73-year-old grandma Noune has been living without electricity for nearly 22 years since the earthquake struck.

Young construction group

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Credit: FAR Staff

All this brought them closer together. During this trip, they lived just as their peers in their homeland, celebrating the “Vardavar” holiday and spending a wonderful day under the arches of the Marmashen Monastery.

ACYOA ASPers hailed from the East Coast of the USA – New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and so on. Among them were James Balakian, son of outstanding writer Peter Balakian, Nickolas, grandson of famous benefactor Nazar Nazaryan, among others.

Please read all their stories on our blog.
(Please scroll down after clicking the link)

The ACYOA Bus

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Credit: FAR Staff

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[Dispatches From Armenia]: A Glimpse of CME.

July 28, 2010

It’s amazing what some of Armenia’s doctors are able to work with. Today, while visiting several medical centers in and around Yerevan I was able to see where the physicians participating in this month’s Continuing Medical Education Program are based. Walking through neonatology wards and intensive care units, I heard a few stories about their home institutions.

One anesthesiologist must observe through facial expression and movement how her patients under anesthesia react during surgery because her hospital in Vanadzor doesn’t have all of the proper monitoring equipment. Another neonatologist is one of a team of two who must care for the 30 infants who come to her hospital every month. Her hospital also lacks proper equipment and they are simply unable to transport these children to Yerevan in the case of severe emergencies. And then there are other obstacles, like no electricity, no running water, etc.

I’ve seen similar conditions in other parts of the world. But hearing these stories, no matter how brief, still leaves me incredulous and also awestruck by these doctors’ dedication and resourcefulness. Things need to continue to change, however. The CME program gives them the opportunity to spend a month training with leading specialists in Yerevan. And they can learn new methods and establish a network with their mentors that they can use in the future. CME is making strides with healthcare in this country and with a waiting list of more than 100 people, demand for it is high. With more support it can be expanded, and all of Armenia will continue to benefit as that expansion happens.

Erin –

A modern hospital in Yerevan

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Credit: FAR Staff

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[FAR Scholarships]: Nishanian Scholars Graduate Gavar State University.

July 27, 2010

For nearly nine years, the Jerair Nishanian Foundation has implemented the Jerair Nishanian Scholarship Program in Armenia through FAR. This program has given more than 50 socially vulnerable students from Gavar State University in the Gegharkunik region and Yerevan State University of Architecture and Construction the opportunity to continue on to higher education.

This year, 12 of the program’s 53 beneficiaries graduated from Gavar State University. One graduate student and seven undergraduate students earned degrees with honors, also known as “Red Diplomas.” Gavar State University Rector Ruzanna Hakobyan, Der Markos Bishop Hovhannisyan, Gegharkunik Diocese Primate, and other guests attended the ceremony. Ruzanna Hakobyan and Der Markos opened the ceremony with their welcome speeches.

While bittersweet, the atmosphere was also exciting and joyful. The 79 graduate students and 253 undergraduates had to say farewell to their beloved university, yet they were also proud. They are now able to fully contribute to the development of their country with their newly achieved knowledge and skills.

In their speeches, the students thanked first and foremost supporter and friend of GSU Jerair Nishanian, who gave them the opportunity to fulfill their dream and study at the university. Graduates also promised to help students in similar conditions at their first opportunity to do so.

Twelve beneficiaries received their diploma

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Credit: FAR Staff

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[Dispatches From Armenia]: Yerevan, Day 1.

July 27, 2010

Well, this is it. After nearly two weeks of touring Armenia and Karabagh with this year’s Young Professionals Trip, I’m back in Yerevan for the rest of the summer. It’s a little surreal — we saw quite a bit of this city during the trip and parts of it began to feel familiar and comforting. Now all of those different places we visited are starting to feel congruent.

Despite my haze from prolonged sleep depravation, a conversation with some of my co-workers this morning started to open things up even more. We discussed the high unemployment that drives so many Armenians out of their homeland and the obstacles women in particular often face to get work — the need to be attractive or young enough to get the job as opposed to professionally qualified, for example. While some of it was grim, they also emphasized something very important that all Armenians need: hope. Without this, many won’t even try to stay here in their homeland. Without this, others won’t strive to further educate themselves. Instead, they’ll simply continue to look for ways to leave, and even abandon their families in the process. So FAR’s mission to build the country’s intellectual capital, give Armenia’s people opportunity, and engage the Diaspora is an extremely important task. My first two weeks helped me delve beyond the program descriptions and reports I’ve read for the past year or so, and now I get to see how things are really done. I look forward to having my perspective changed even more.

Erin –

Republic Square

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Credit: FAR Staff

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[ACYOA Dispatches]: Khachkars.

July 26, 2010

By Katrina Shakarian

Our week in Gyumri is behind us. We’ve since visited the Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries in Lori Marz. We continued onto the town of Dilijan, where ASPers toured Goshavank monastery.  From there, we visited the village of Noraduz and Lake Sevan. Noraduz is a cemetery that was in use between the 7th and 17th centuries.  Currently, it houses  largest collection of Khachkars in a single location.  Khachkars are a distinctly Armenian art form. From a single slab of rock, craftsman carved out a rectangle. They’d adorn it with a cross, surrounded by intricate patterns. Many of them tell stories.

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Credit: Katrina Shakarian

Khachkars were commissioned to commemorate events like a birth, or death. Today, Armenians adorn their tombstones with pictures of the dead; a trend that emerged during the Soviet period. Traditionally, however, Armenians who could afford it, placed Khachkars on top of their graves. It took at least 4-5 months to carve one.

During our visit, we weaved in and out of the stones, now overgrown with tall grass and weeds.  We stopped to examine the patterns etched into each one.  Apparently, no two Khachkars are alike. 

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Credit: Katrina Shakarian

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[Dispatches From Armenia]: FARs 2010 Young Professional Trip – The End.

July 26, 2010

It’s so strange to think we parted ways in the early morning hours with bleary eyes and lots of hugs. This trip exceeded any expectations I may have had. And based on our emotional goodbye dinner, I wasn’t the only one impacted. Each of us was touched in deeply personal ways, and I believe this trip brought clarity and a stronger connection for most about what it means to have one’s roots stem from this rich and fascinating land.

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Credit: FAR Staff

I can’t say that I understand what it means to be Armenian, but at least I have a better idea now. I’ve seen every region of this beautiful country, spoken with its people (albeit mostly through translation), devoured its delicious food, and collected some amazing experiences. There’s so much more to build on, too, in terms of history, art, politics, etc. And I am happy to have the chance to stay here for the rest of the summer, to absorb and experience more through FAR and through day-to-day life. But I’ll miss my travel companions, now friends. Every day.

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Credit: FAR Staff

Have I reached honorary Armenian status? I don’t know. Perhaps. I did however receive a nomination one night in Karabagh as the best Armenian dancer in the group. I’ll gladly take that for now.

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Credit: FAR Staff

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[FAR’s Intern(s) in Armenia – Samantha]: Farewell.

July 24, 2010

By Samantha McQueen

The cliché must be true… my travels truly have changed me and Armenia will always be a part of my life. At the same time I think I left a chunk of myself there, too. Not only in the sense that my sleeping patterns are still stuck in Yerevan time, but I don’t think I could feel complete without returning again.

I finally see what the Diaspora has been fighting for. Armenians love their land and they are a crucial part of it. Through the wars and genocide, they have fought for the right to remain Armenian while holding onto the values of hard work and family. Farmers climb uphill for four hours to find fresh grass for their cows. Suddenly the nine to five job doesn’t seem so bad. And they still manage to take a stroll with their neighbors every night. We have a hard time balancing work with our social lives in America. If nothing else, I’ve learned to take time out of my day for family and friends.

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Credit: Samantha McQueen

Armenians are also some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever encountered. They are willing to spend their last penny on a dinner guest, no matter who is the wealthier in the situation. We could use a little of that generosity here. It brings a feeling of unity to the nation, especially with the struggles of the last century.

After a few tearful goodbyes, I realized that nine former strangers are going through the same feelings. We all felt that warmth and empathy for the people and their land. I guess that’s why it’s a cliché. They work so hard for what they have and value the things that really matter in life. If it wasn’t clear to me before, the saying “money doesn’t buy happiness” now makes sense. It’s almost impossible to leave Armenia without feeling like you belong to a culture that welcomes you into their lives with open arms.

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Credit: FAR Staff

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[ACYOA Dispatches]: Vernissage.

July 23, 2010

By Katrina Shakarian

Vernissage is an open air market near Yerevan’s Republic Square. It’s open for business on Saturday and Sunday. ASP-ers spent their last Saturday in Armenia scouring its stalls for keepsakes to take home. In just a few blocks you can find paintings, sculptures, needlepoint work, backgammon boards, jewelry, posters, electronics, carpets, coffee sets, woodwork, ceramics, books, and much more. It’s overwhelming to make your way through the market. We spent the afternoon dodging its crowds and negotiating prices in our distinct “Armenglish” dialect.

Needless to say, we all left Vernissage with full hands and empty pockets.

Impressions from Vernissage

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Credit: By Katrina Shakarian