Students from NY and Boston Gather for Symposium

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Students from New York and Boston Gather for Symposium

By Diocesan Correspondent

May 2007

Appearing in The Armenian Reporter, Armenian Weekly, USA Armenian Life and elsewhere


What does it mean to be an Armenian living in America? How important is the Armenian language to create a cultural connection? How have Armenian traditions held up over time and distances? These questions were the topic of discussion when young Armenians from Boston and New York gathered for the annual Khrimian Lyceum Symposium on April 14, 2007.


The students from the two Diocesan Khrimian Lyceums, six-year educational programs for graduates of local Armenian schools, gathered at the Diocesan Center in New York for the day-long symposium.


The day featured three guest speakers: Lucine Kasbarian, Hovhannes Hosdeghian, and Sahan Arzruni.


Armenian Identity


Writer and editor Lucine Kasbarian spoke to the students about current issues touching on language, homeland, school and dating from her perspective as an American-born Armenian. She spoke in detail about what it means to be an Armenian living outside one’s homeland and questioned if growing up Armenian is “a duty, burden and/or joy” no matter what part of the world one lives in.


“To rephrase a famous saying, ‘being Armenian is the toughest job you’ll ever love,’” Kasbarian told the assembled students and teachers. She also distributed IndyKids, a youth-oriented publication that included her articles about Armenia, including the lingering effects of genocide denial.


“Lucine left me with a lot of food for thought,” said Khrimian Lyceum student Liana Kurkjian. “We could very much relate to her, because as teenagers and the future of the Armenian society, it is our job to carry the torch to the future generation of Armenians. Our culture, beliefs and people are so strong. We must make sure it stays that way no matter the circumstances barring down upon us.”


Origins of the Alphabet


Longtime educator and scientist Hovhannes Hosdeghian spoke about the origin of the Armenian alphabet – tracing it back to migration from the 10th century BC, when the Urartian Kingdom developed the parent of the Armenian language. Speaking about the times of Haig and Pel and the subtle differences and influences that came from other peoples, Hosdeghian made a comparative analysis with other Indo-European languages.


“Our language is its own and has never and will never change into another,” student Kurkjian said in describing Hosdeghian’s remarks.


Tradition


Noted pianist and musicologist Sahan Arzruni led an animated presentation about the centuries-old feasts and traditions that sill remain in effect in much of Armenia and other areas in the Middle East with historic Armenian communities.


His talk of tradition touched on Navasart, the traditional celebration of Armenian New Year, as well as the Armenian tradition of using characters from the alphabet to represent numbers.


Arzruni also led the students in an interactive recreation of Vijag, a pagan practice that takes place at the same time as the Feast of the Ascension of Christ. During Vijag, flowers are gathered from seven water sources and put in a bowl. Personal items are added to the bowl, which is covered. An item is drawn out and the fortune of its owner is told.


Following the symposium, students from the New England Khrimian Lyceum toured the St. Vartan Cathedral with Father Mardiros Chevian, dean of the Cathedral.