What brings twenty-one students from varied backgrounds to take a class together at Fresno State?
For the Fall 2017 semester it was a common desire to learn modern Armenian in Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian’s elementary language class, Armenia 1A. Armenians and non-Armenians alike are learning the language spoken for more than three millennia, and in so doing they are also learning about Armenian culture.
Prof. Der Mugrdechian, who has been teaching the elementary and advanced language courses at Fresno State for more than thirty years, enjoys having a diversity of students in his class. He shares the same enthusiasm toward learning the language that the students have.
Students have already learned basic Armenian phrases and are just completing learning the alphabet.
Students in the Armenian 1A class were interviewed about the reasons they are taking the course and also what they have found most interesting in their studies.
For Business major Cole Egoian learning Armenian has a personal meaning. “I took this class so that I can speak to my grandmother and father in Armenian. I think that the class is important because it will ensure the continuation of the language.”
A similar sentiment was shared by Molly Gostanian, also a Business major, who took the class to learn more about the language her ancestors spoke. “I like learning the Armenian alphabet the most. It is not the easiest alphabet to learn but it is very rewarding to see how much I have learned in a short time.”
Business major Gregory Krikorian is also enjoying learning the alphabet. “The most interesting part of the course so far has been learning the Armenian alphabet,” he said. “An Armenian class is important so that the language can continue to be spoken.”
David Safrazian, who is studying biology, wanted to take Armenian because he “wanted to learn this language to communicate with others and because it is his heritage.”
Several non-Armenians are taking the course. “Learning about language is vital to understanding another culture,” said Linguistics major Daphne Russell. “The is especially true because of the large Armenian Disaporan community in Fresno.”
For Pre-nursing major Adriana Sanchez, taking a language course is “critical to understanding others.” Sanchez says that everyone should learn to speak more than one language.
“It is important to gain an understanding about other cultures. That way you can have both an understanding and a communication bridge to others,” said Pre-Nursing major Matthew King. “I love learning a new language.”
The Armenian language class teaches not only about the language, as students also learn about Armenian culture and about the modern Republic of Armenia. This common learning experience is bringing more attention to the Armenian culture at Fresno State.