The “Ari Tun” Program serves as one of the guarantees for preservation of the Armenian identity

New, interesting and extraordinary-this is how we can describe the week that the participants of the fourth stage of the 2015 “Ari Tun” Program spent in the homeland. They discovered many enigmatic and beautiful sites worth seeing in Armenia.

Hayern Aysor continues to interview the participants and share their feelings and impressions with its readers. This time my interlocutors were students of the Yuzbashian-Gulbenkian National School of Jordan. As teacher Raquel Asatrian-Margarian mentioned, the school is participating in the program for the third year. When Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan visited Jordan in 2010, she also visited the school. The minister was impressed and suggested that the Armenian youth of Jordan participate in the program and become familiar with their history and origin.

Today, out of the nearly 100 students, 15 are participating in the “Ari Tun” Program. “The “Ari Tun” Program serves as the best opportunity for those who still haven’t visited the homeland. As you know, the program is designed for 13-18-year-olds, but Mrs. Hakobyan made a small exception for our school. There are even ten-year-old children among the Jordanian-Armenian participants of the “Ari Tun” Program. We’re very grateful to the minister for her attention and generosity,” Mrs. Asatrian-Margarian said.

The school’s key objective is to preserve the type and image of Armenians in the Arab World. “Although we do everything we can to make sure the children finish kindergarten with knowledge of Armenian, Armenian history, national customs and traditions, but they often forget what they have learned when they go on to study foreign languages in foreign schools. Today, the “Ari Tun” Program serves as one of the guarantees for preservation of the Armenian identity. It contributes to our efforts. The children visit the homeland and become familiar with all that they have heard about or seen in pictures,” Raquel says.

Ashot Khanoian, 17, is one of the graduates of the Yuzbashian-Gulbenkian School. This is his second visit to Armenia, and it’s through the “Ari Tun” Program. “It’s nice to see Diaspora Armenian youth gather under one roof and communicate in a friendly environment. I met Hagop from Syria and Kevork from Iraq. We have already become good friends. If it wasn’t for this program, I might not have met them at all.”

Ashot is currently studying at a university. He also plays chess and basketball. He says he has many foreign friends, but he mainly communicates with the local Armenians in order to stay true to his national identity. He and his Armenian friends go to the local church on Sundays and are members of clubs.

During the visit to the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex, Ashot also couldn’t hold back his tears and was saying the Lord’s Prayer (“Hair Mer”) in a shaky voice. He knew about the events of 1915 very well. During our interview, Ashot said his grandparents had left their land during the massacres. “The pain will never heal. It’s impossible to forget, but we must live and move forward with persistence. Our generation no longer has the right to make a mistake. We are defending our claims, and sooner or later they will face Judgment Day,” Ashot said. This persistent and goal-oriented boy promised to return to the homeland after he finishes his studies and said there was a longing in his heart.

Emma Vardanyan

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