On Friday morning, April 1, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), welcomed Armenia’s Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan, and Armenian’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan to the Diocesan Center in New York.
Also present for the meeting were Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Diocesan Vicar; Armen Baibourtian, the Diocese’s Director of Administration; Garnik Nanagoulian, Executive Director of the Fund for Armenian Relief; Artur Petrosyan of the Diocese’s Communications department; and Taleen Babayan of the Development Department.
Ms. Hakobyan shared the accomplishments of the Ministry of Diaspora. She spoke of the importance of building a strong bridge between diasporans and Armenia, as facilitated through the ministry’s programs, such as “Ari Doon” (“Coming Home”), which welcomes diasporans to Armenia and immerses them in the country and culture. She also noted the “Paradon” program, held once every two years in which over 30 diasporan groups experience their homeland through dance, music and song. A summer school has been another initiative led by the Ministry of Diaspora in which diasporans of all ages can travel to Armenia and learn Eastern and Western Armenian. The above mentioned programs are subsidized by the Ministry of Diaspora.
“If we want to keep the bonds between our diaspora and Armenia strong, members of the diaspora have to see their homeland,” she said.
Ms. Hakobyan also spoke about the ongoing assistance offered to Syrian-Armenians arriving in Armenia. Efforts include providing stipends, scholarships, housing assistance, and work opportunities. During the meeting, participants considered how the Fund for Armenian Relief and the Ministry of Diaspora might be able to cooperate to further support Syrian-Armenian refugees.
Archbishop Barsamian shared with Ms. Hakobyan the Diocese’s efforts in leading the centennial commemorations of the Armenian Genocide in Washington, D.C., last April. Artur Petrosyan spoke about the resources developed by the Diocese’s Communications department, including its award-winning booklet titled “The Armenian Genocide 1915.” Other efforts included a live broadcast of the April 26, 2015, service at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral and coverage of the events in Washington, D.C.
“A great spirit emerged last year during the centennial commemorations,” Ms. Hakobyan said. “We have to keep that spirit alive in the coming decades.”
Both the Primate and Ms. Hakobyan stressed the importance of working together to continue to strengthen ties between the diaspora and Armenia. The Primate presented Ms. Hakobyan with a sculpture by artist Michael Aram, and she in turn gave him a framed rug as well as recent publications of the Ministry of Diaspora.
“We are so pleased to have heard about the latest initiatives of the Ministry of Diaspora,” Archbishop Barsamian said. “We have to continue to work together to support and strengthen our homeland.”