Creatively focused and noteworthyPhoto credit: Norayr Kasper, "I Will Talk to You About Time." Fotoistanbul 2015.
Got Armenia on your mind? Sign up for one of these events this summer! There has never been a better time to be young and Armenian. Armenia’s recent Velvet Revolution showed what the youth could accomplish when they work together to bridge the gaps, boundaries, and barriers that have prevented proactive change for far too long. Well, for those of us who live in the diaspora, there is another revolution unfolding, and we are calling on you, your friends and foes alike—our brothers and sisters across the world—to join the call in creating a newer, more inclusive and interactive vision for our diaspora going forward. If you’re wondering how we plan on going about this, you may want to check out ArtLinks, YouthLinks, and the Forum—all run by the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society (“Hamazkayin” henceforth). Read on for a breakdown of these initiatives and how you can get involved in creating a New Armenia: Diaspora edition!
Hamazkayin ArtLinks: Engaging the newest generation of the diaspora Hamazkayin’s ArtLinks is an annual weekend-long forum for diasporan youth aged 21-35 to come together and participate in workshops and panel discussions helmed by some of the most creative minds and souls of our community: leading (as well as budding) artists, writers, journalists, musicians, actors, and activists. Last summer was the fourth installment of the program, which has doubled in size since its inaugural year, quickly becoming one of the most popular and stimulating events for Armenian youth in North America. Read on to know why!
The magic of a boring sandwich: Reflections from an Armenian cemetery in Kharpert If you could have dinner with any person in the world—dead or alive—who would you choose? My answer, every time, is my great grandparents. Many of us have us wondered how we would feel if we ever ventured to the lands from which we have collectively been exiled for the last four generations. Upon returning from my trip to Western Armenia, I encountered the spirit of our ancestors and their will to build again, love again, and rejoice again, in the most unlikely of places: a sandwich.
100 years in 10 days: (Re)Discovering Sasun and the beauty of the Armenian Highlands One of the few constants in my life has been Sasun, a land on which no living relative has ever set foot. In the summer of 2017, I had the opportunity to discover the homeland of my ancestors, and along the way, encountered a lost branch of my family tree— of our collective Armenian family. Our survivor great-grandparents would describe those who were “left behind” during the genocide. These Armenians remained in what became the Republic of Turkey and were forced to hide or completely forgo their Armenian identities, living out the rest of their days as Kurds or Turks. We had the privilege to meet with some of these “Hidden Armenians,” who taught us that, just as 19th-century Sasun is impossible to imagine without Armenians, an Armenian resurgence in 21st-century Sasun can only happen with their inclusion.
Uncovering the 'Hidden Road' to Armenia’s most isolated communities Too often, diasporans have admired Armenia from afar with an idealistic gaze, becoming disappointed when she does not meet their lofty expectations. The defeatist slogan of '"yerkiruh yerkir chi" (“the country is not a country”) propagated by locals has corroded many good efforts at cleansing the nation of its ills. But alongside the ringing nihilism, a vibrant, positive force has taken hold in Armenia. A new generation of diasporans and locals—the post-Soviet babies—has grown up with the nascent republic and, using youthful sensibility, is building a nation worthy of its citizens. One such example is the Hidden Road Initiative (HRI), a nonprofit aimed at supplying rural, mostly isolated villages in Armenia with the tools to live and thrive in their local environments