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Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society
Better known simply as Hamazkayin.
The 1920s marked the beginning of a significant political and cultural upheaval in the history of the Armenians.
The 1915-1923 genocide perpetrated by the Turkish Government, as well as the persecutions by the Soviet regime after the fall of the First Republic of Armenia in 1920, created major turmoil in the lives of the Armenian people. Survivors were dispersed all over the world, the Middle Eastern countries becoming the most significant region of refuge.
At this critical juncture, on May 28, 1928, a group of nine intellectuals, among them writer and educator Levon Shant, historian and critic Nigol Aghbalian, former foreign minister of the Republic of Armenia Dr. Hamo Ohanchanian, and stage director and art critic Kaspar Ipekian, founded the Hamazkayin Publishing and Cultural Society in Cairo, Egypt
The objective of Hamazkayin was to provide a sound education to the new generation, and to strive towards the preservation of the ethnic identity and cultural heritage of the Armenian people living outside their homeland.
Hamazkayin has been successful in establishing secondary and higher educational institutions which have prepared scholars, literary figures, and community leaders. It has also played a major role in the field of publishing, and for over seventy years, including thirty years in the United States, has contributed to the advancement of culture in general
Hamazkayin is a nonprofit organization, presently functioning under the official name of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society.
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BRIDGING DIASPORA AND ARMENIA
Yerkir/am January 13, 2006
Q: Hamazgayin is already 15 years old. Before you started working in Armenia your organization was more concerned about the preservation of national identity of Armenians abroad while today you are acting more as a bridge between Diaspora and Armenia. Was it easy to achieve this transformation?
A: You are right. Hamazgayin had preservation of Armenian identity as its main focus for about 78 years. However, I think you will agree that we can't talk about preservation of the Armenian identity without an active connection with the homeland. Of course we cannot cover the entire domain of spiritual-cultural relations between Armenia and the Diaspora but very often we exceed Hamazgayin's geographic scope because we cannot stay indifferent towards the cultural and educational problems of Armenian communities in different countries.
Q: There is no doubt that Hamazgayin is involved in a number of significant activities. Which ones would you single out?
A: In 2005 we organized a series of events commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, celebration of the 1600th anniversary of the creation of the Armenian alphabet, Nikol Aghbalian's 130th birthday, 2100th anniversary of Tigran the Great's kingdom. These events were important in terms of assessing our history and moving forward. We organized the international conferences dedicated to Nikol Aghbalian and Tigran Mets in cooperation with Yerevan State University and the National Academy of Sciences.
A volume of Nikol Aghbalian's selected works and a monograph titled "Tigran the Great" were published last year. Another significant event was the competition held for creation of Komitas's statue. About 40 Armenian sculptors participated in this competition. Samvel Ghazarian's work was announced the winner. The statue was erected in one of the central squares in Quebec, Canada.
The concert of the world famous soprano Izabel Bayrakdarian with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra was an outstanding event in the cultural life of the country. We acknowledge the importance of organizing performances of Diaspora Armenian artists in Armenia.
A number of famous Diaspora Armenian artists visited Armenia last year including caricaturist Masis Araratian (USA), conductor K. Aprikian (France). We place an equal importance on cultural and educational connections between Diaspora and Armenia. I think the cooperation agreement signed between the Hamazgayin Institution in Syria and Khachatur Abovian Pedagogical University of Yerevan was a major accomplishment in this respect.
According to this agreement, the graduates of Hamazgayin Institution will be able to complete two-year professional courses at the Pedagogical University in Yerevan. In this way we partly solve the problem of availability of teachers in the Diaspora schools.
We also send dance teachers, actors and singers to Diaspora Armenian theaters. Famous actor and director Davit Hakobian has been leading the Gaspar Ipekian Theater in Beirut for three years. Armenian artists are leading Hamazgayin's dance groups in Lebanon, Canada and Australia.
Q: A number of events organized by Hamazgayin have become a tradition. Many Diaspora Armenians visit Armenia every year. This means that the bridge between Armenia and the Diaspora is functioning.
A: Hamazgayin's student forum can be singled out as a traditional event. Diaspora Armenian students have been visiting Armenia to participate in this forum for already five years. We have a project for recording the treasures of Armenian music. We have completed the series of recordings of Komitas, Sayat-Nova, Aram Khachatrian. The CD with 30 songs of Sayat -Nova performed by the best Armenian singers will soon be released. A musical performance titled "Dream Dancer" will soon be staged by Jirayr Dadassian.
Q: What are your plans for this year?
A: First of all, we will continue our cultural exchange programs giving our Armenian artists an opportunity to perform for the Armenian communities abroad. A number of art groups forming the Hamazgayin family will participate in the second Pan-Armenian Festival One Nation One Culture. Hamazgayin's general convention will be held in spring and it will determine the main directions for our activities in a four-year perspective. Meanwhile, our first project this year was the publication of a calendar in which paintings of several Armenian painters are presented. Publications will remain in the scope of our activities this year.
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