The Eastern Diocese’s Armenian Studies department held its much-anticipated Armenian Teachers Symposium on Saturday, September 11, as a “hybrid” event combining in-person and remote participation.
Armenian School educators from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut met at the Diocesan Center in Manhattan, while colleagues from Houston (TX), Haverhill and Cambridge (MA), Cleveland (OH), Southfield (MI), Charlotte (NC), Philadelphia (PA), Watervliet (NY), and Washington, DC, joined them interactively via a live Internet broadcast.
Also in attendance were Fr. Davit Karamyan, Vicar of St. Vartan Cathedral, and Fr. Diran Bohajian, pastor of St. Leon Church (Fair Lawn, NJ). In all, about 60 participants attended or viewed the symposium, which was conducted entirely in Armenian.
Gilda Kupelian of the Diocese’s Armenian Studies program saluted Armenian teachers for fulfilling their mission to spread Armenian culture in the extremely trying circumstances of the past year. She congratulated newly appointed principals of parish Armenian schools, honored teachers for their continuing service, and pad tribute to longtime educators who had been lost in the past year.
Diocesan Director of Ministries Fr. Mesrop Parsamian opened the symposium with prayerful regards for all Armenian teachers. “The Armenian language has transmitted our faith from generation to generation,” he said, congratulating the attendees for their efforts in preserving the church’s mission. “With Daniel Srpazan, we at the Diocese are with you, beside you, backing our cultural inheritance.”
A survey of Diocesan Armenian schools detailed the many challenges brought on by the pandemic—and the “best practices” found to overcome them. The findings were welcomed as a general “reality check” on the status of Armenian schools.
Gilda Kupelian introduced a newly-released resource: a textbook titled “Ardoodeeg,” aimed to facilitate reading comprehension and vocabulary skills among students from Kindergarten to 3rd grade.
Delivering a presentation on Armenian customs and traditions was renowned master pianist, ethnomusicologist, and lecturer Şahan Arzruni. He discussed beloved Armenian traditions in their historic context, and insightfully related them to customs from other cultures. Touching on practices associated with the New Year, Lenten fasting, Navasart, Vartavar, Khatchveratz, and blessings of water and grapes, Maestro Arzruni emphasized the importance of traditions as a critical support of the distinctive Armenian identity.
Dr. Jesse Arlen, the director of the Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, spoke about his personal journey to learn Armenian as an adult, in a presentation titled, “Reversal: The Goal as the Means.” He told how his love for languages, special teachers, and interaction with Armenian speakers led him throughout his linguistic journey of discovery. “The student should become a hunter of language. Learning a language must be the responsibility of the student,” he said, to enthusiastic applause from the listeners.
Each presentation was followed by a question session, with speakers interacting with both the live and virtual audiences. The Armenian Studies department and the Zohrab Center presented gifts to the attendees, and books were available for purchase. The proceedings went forward in observance of all prevailing safety protocols. Levon Altiparmakian, Taleen Kupelian, and the Diocesan facilities staff all contributed to the smooth operation of the event.
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