JACQUELINE ARIKIAN–STAFF WRITER
Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity to teach a third/fourth grade Sunday School class at St. Paul Armenian Church. Teaching this class has been more than preparing lessons and showing up to church at 10 a.m. to creatively teach a class to a group of eight and nine year olds. It has been a journey, a journey down a road of cultural understanding, not only for myself, but for my students as well.
Teaching an Armenian Sunday School class as a college student has been quite the experience. It has not only been challenging to educate my students religiously and answer their many questions, but it has been rewarding for me to see them grow spiritually and culturally.
Each week, the students learn about a Bible story which is taught in many ways; through classroom games, Bible readings, cassette tapes, workbooks, and group discussions. However, the class goes one step beyond teaching the students Biblical stories, for it covers some historical Armenian ground as well. Each Sunday, I take the students up to church for about 15-20 minutes. From the time spent there, they become educated about the traditional customs that take place every week during the regular Sunday service. It is joyful for me to see that they have a natural curiosity about what they are seeing while in church, wanting to know more about what is going on and why. It then becomes my responsibility to explain to them the significance of what goes on in the church, and it is for this reason that I see the spark they possess, the spark for the Armenian culture.
It makes me proud to teach a group of eager students about their heritage. Not only do they learn more about themselves by regularly attending class, but they gain and possess a treasured knowledge that they can pass down to their children and grandchildren. I enjoy spending time with and educating them about our history. And to my surprise, they have educated me by giving me insight on who I am as an Armenian.
Throughout these three years, I have seen the growth and development of Armenian culture within today’s youth. It is evident when I look into their glowing eyes and realize that they have a spark which lies within their souls, a spark to learn more about their motherland, their history, and themselves. And I, myself, begin to glow when I see that the next generation of Armenians have that ignited spark within them, for it will seen become their responsibility and honor to keep the Armenian culture alive in the United States.