Author Kasbarian Visits Metro Detroit area
Author Kasbarian Visits Metro Detroit Area
By Colette Gulian
Published in The Armenian Weekly
October 17, 1998
Dearborn, Michagan – Like the fragrant flower that attracts the bees, the sales table was the center of wild activity as the Ladies Guild of St. Sarkis Armenian church set up “camp” for their book signing and presentation by author Lucine Kasbarian. As Sunday school registration for the New Year ended, parents and students alike rushed to the table to “check things out.”
The Ladies Guild had tried for months to get Miss Kasbarian to travel to the Detroit area for a presentation of her newly published educational textbook, “Armenia: A Rugged Land, an Enduring People” from Dillon Press/Simon & Schuster. The textbook is part of the “Discovering Our Heritage” series devoted to introducing the histories and cultures of many peoples from around the world. The Armenia books’ versatility is apparent when trying to find it at the local bookstore: it appears in the children’s section, as well as travel and history sections.
Even before Kasbarian began to talk, she was a busy bee signing books, speaking with friends, and meeting others. Though this was not her first business trip to metro Detroit, many who shared her experiences growing up commented afterward that they felt they had “known her for years.” This showed how connected the audience and Lucine had become through her presentation.
Miss Colette Gulian introduced Kasbarian to the crowd of over 100. After giving an “official” biography, Colette pointed out that Lucine was “one of us: born and raised her in the U.S., and well educated.”
“She was always a part of the Armenian scene,” Gulian continued. “Lucine is not someone who came out of the woodwork when she found out she was Armenian, did some research, and wrote a book about it. She’s always been involved, knew where she came from, where she is, and if the book is any indication, she has a good grip on where she is headed.” Knowing where she came from, as it turned out, was the focal point of Kasbarian’s presentation.
Lucine took to the podium and began speaking about how this project came to her, why she had the desire to pursue it, and her hopes of what the book would accomplish in the hands of readers. Speaking with a controlled, steady yet inviting demeanor, Lucine captivated the attentive audience from her first “hello” to her last “thank you.” After the talk, she said she wasn’t sure how well it went since there was no noise or interruption from the audience. She needn’t have worried. The audience was giving its complete and undivided attention and respect.
Kasbarian directly and with calculated measure offered the reasons why writing her book came naturally. First, of course, was her love for literature. Her chosen profession exemplifies that. She is an editor of a leading business publication for the optical industry. Second was a lifetime of involvement in the Armenian community – whether in the Armenian Youth Federation, the Nayiri Western Armenian Folkdance Ensemble, or working on civil rights issues. And lastly – what would be the thrust of her presentation – was the experience of simultaneously living two distinct lives (Armenian and American) which gave her the ability to treasure the values, customs and education both lives had to offer. Throughout the examples she gave of these “two lives,” people in the audience smiled and nodded as they recalled their similar experiences.
For example, Lucine told a story about giving an oral presentation in her High School French class. She started off well enough and then faltered and without hesitation, switched over to Armenian to finish her thought. (It was helpful that her teacher was an ethnic Armenian.) Going out with odar friends meant explaining “who, what, where, when, why and how” to her parents. But if it was with Armenian friends or functions, not only weren’t there any questions or limitations, but she was encouraged to participate – without curfews.
As an Armenian-American, Kasbarian said she was grateful to America for offering a safe haven to her and others’ grandparents when they were driven from their homeland during the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Turks or the Sovietization of Armenia after the Bolshevik Revolution. Because the refugees knew what it was to be denied freedoms of life, conscience and religion, it made them embrace this country all the more, committed to being hardworking, law-abiding, successful citizens. With them as examples, Lucine feels the same desire to improve herself and her environment through education and civic duties.
Lucine told the audience that becoming involved in one “life” does not overshadow or weaken the other, but instead complements it. On sending our children to Armenian day schools, she said, “I can guarantee that it will not hamper their progress in American professional or social spheres in the years to come. Show them that it’s healthy to plant one foot in each world.”
The audience showed their appreciation for the wonderful and thoughtful presentation with a hearty applause. Mrs. Sharon Broglin, chairlady of the Guild, thanked Lucine for her work on the book and for presenting it to the St. Sarkis community. On behalf of the Guild, she then presented Lucine with a beautiful photograph of the church at Khor Virab Monastery in Armenia.
Organizers deemed the book signing event a complete success. If there was any doubt, it disappeared as Kasbarian resumed signing her book, selling out the entire supply within an hour.