This year’s ARS Summer Studies Program, organized by Mary Mooradian, was held on the beautiful campus of Bradford College. The three week intensive program offered a wide variety of Armenian courses taught by highly qualified professors. These intellectually challenging courses: Armenian history taught by Dr. Simon Payaslian, Armenian literature taught by Dr. Peter Cowe, Armenian language taught by Dr. Ara Caprielian, Armenian art and architecture taught by Dr. Lucy Der Manuelian, Armenian dance taught by Gary and Susan Lind-Sinanian, Armenian music taught by Dr. Leon Janikian, and Armenian Cinema taught by Ara Madzounian. The overall program was directed and coordinated by the very capable Dr. Houri Berberian, who also gave a lecture on the role of Armenian women in Iran.
A total of seventeen students arrived at Bradford with the same common goal- to gain a deeper understanding of their Armenian culture and heritage. These students traveled from France, England, Canada, and all parts of America, ready for an intellectual challenge and the opportunity to meet fellow Armenian peers. A bond quickly developed between this diaspora of students, and friendships were established which will last a lifetime. As this tightly knit group of Armenian youth became better acquainted with each other, each individual was able to learn from the others experiences not only as Armenians but as French Armenians, Canadian Armenians, English Armenians, and American Armenians. Therefore, each student was able to take back home a piece of the Diaspora.
Although the program consisted of intensive studies, it was balanced with plenty of extracurricular activities. Besides a couple of excursions into the city of Boston, the ARS students traveled to Hampton Beach, N.H., for a fun filled day under the sun. Another stop for the students was the Cultural Festival in Lowell, MA, where the students were treated to the fine classical Armenian music of the Ayriyan Family. The students were also treated to an incredible shish kebob dinner at the house of Armen and Sossy Jeknavorian. The most enlightening experience outside of the classroom was visiting the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown, MA. The well organized tour encompassed all aspects of Armenian history and culture. However, the most emotional aspect of the tour was the Genocide exhibit which conjured up emotions buried deep inside of the students. Not one student left the Genocide exhibit without a tear rolling down the side of their face.
Another important aspect of the session was the open forum in which the students had a chance to discuss the issue of Armenianness. The question posed was, What does it mean to be Armenian? The discussion was based on each individuals heart-felt opinion regarding their own unique perspectives, which led the students to realize that there are no rules or guidelines with respect to Armenianness. Being Armenian is something which you feel from deep inside your heart, and if you feel Armenian, you are a true Hye. As for both these authors,we will always bleed red, blue, and orange. The most difficult part of the session was not any homework or exam, but instead our last days together. On our final day we could feel the sorrow and sadness which began to overcome us, and filled us with a desire for the experience not to end. The typical Armenian good-bye could not last long enough on our last day because the camaraderie which had been formed between us created not just friendship but a sense of family. This reaction was not only on the part of the students, but also a feeling felt mutually between the professors and students.
There were bonds and memories formed which will last a lifetime, so we would like to thank the ARS for allowing us the opportunity to develop these new friendships with: Michelle Amirkhanian; Laurie Arslanyan; Nayiri Arzhoumanian; Twine Balian; Laurie Bedikian; Tamar Der Ghazarian; Natasha Kantzabedian; Lauren Kazarian; Gregory King-Underwood; Lalai Manjikian; Zabelle Margossian; Bethany Mooradian; Raffi Moughamian; Garine Tcholakian; and Anoush Yezeguelian.