A life of self-incineration for the sake of Armenians

What united Diaspora Armenia intellectuals, national and political figures and journalists at the 6th Armenia-Diaspora Pan-Armenian Conference was the idea of mutual trust, unity and responsibility, and over time, the speeches, opinions and recommendations regarding this idea will surely be considered and implemented through combined efforts and for the benefit of the Armenian nation. Among the participants of the conference was sociologist/pedagogue, journalist and writer Vardi Danielian from Montreal, who gave an interview for Hayern Aysor.

Karine Avagyan: Mrs. Danielian, I am aware that you had visited Artsakh before the conference…Even your facial expression shows that you are very impressed and have a lot to say about your visit…

Vardi Danielian: Yes, you’re right. Under the direction of editor of Canada’s Horizon Weekly Vahakn Karakashian and through the “What are YOU doing for Artsakh?” pan-Armenian movement launched by the RA Ministry of Diaspora, I and 27 others visited Artsakh where we enjoyed the wonderful nature of that heavenly place for 5 days. Words can’t describe my feelings and admiration…Artsakh is marvelous, and the people are kind, hospitable and diligent…We stayed in Stepanakert. On the occasion of Artsakh’s Independence, we went to the local square where we celebrated with the locals. The day was like a victory for us. We went sightseeing in Artsakh, visited villages and Shushi, interacted, talked to the people, listened to their sweet dialect and met with the soldiers defending the borders. I am impressed with Artsakh, but most of all, the warmth of the people and their hospitality. When I ask myself if I should go and live in Artsakh or Yerevan, I say to myself that I will most probably live in Artsakh.

Karine Avagyan: Dear compatriot, please, did this conference give you something to think about?

Vardi Danielian: First of all, I am concerned about the Armenian language. Why should I see more signs and the titles of TV shows in English and hear Russian phrases in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia? Which Englishman would write in Armenian on stores and write the titles of TV shows in Armenian? It is very important to preserve culture in not only the Diaspora, but also in Armenia. Theater has to be at the peak that it used to be. We need to restore the reputation of theater because it teaches people the language and about culture and is of tremendous disciplinary significance. When I visited Armenia in 1988, I went to a theater. At the time, actors spoke decently. During this visit, I went to watch plays. There is so much noise during a performance. The actors speak rapidly, and the message doesn’t get across. We need to think about this as well. It is the theater that has educated generations. As far as the conference is concerned, I must say that organizing conferences is great, but I think there were some shortcomings in terms of organization. Of course, it was hard to organize it, and I hope everything is perfect next time. Indeed, we came to terms with some of the participants during the conference, but there were so many participants that it was impossible to talk and interact with most of them and become familiar with their programs and activities. Most of the participants were talking about the economy, but unfortunately, the participants barely talked about emigration, Armenia’s current issues and the plan for repatriation…I would substitute the words “standing up for the homeland” for the word “repatriation”.

Karine Avagyan: Mrs. Danielian, which of the speeches impressed you the most?

Vardi Danielian: I was most impressed with the speeches by member of the ARF-D Bureau and Chairman of the Central Board of the Armenian National Committee Hagop Der-Khatchadourian and representative of the Office for the Armenian Cause and Political Affairs of the ARF-D Bureau Kiro Manoyan. They talked about language-related issues and reiterated the fact that the state language of Armenia is Armenian. I think there was a need to present a specific plan that will definitely be implemented. In other words, speaking about the painful issues is not enough. It is high time to take action.

Karine Avagyan: Let’s sum up the conference. How would you assess it?

Vardi Danielian: I positively assess the conference because I consider it a good initiative, but the important thing is the results and the actions. There were also many boring speeches, and the speakers were talking so fast that most of the people in the hall wanted to make the speakers stop by applauding. It was an important conference, and so the speeches needed to be specific, goal-oriented, substantial and realistic. The speakers talked about investments, but people making investments need to have faith. Every task needs to be transparent.

Karine Avagyan: I know you love Armenia and want to purchase a home in Armenia and are planning on opening a school or a classroom…Please, tell us about that and let us in on the secrets as much as possible.

Vardi Danielian: Yes, I have such a plan, and I need to talk to the respectable Minister of Diaspora about it. I love Armenia infinitely.

Karine Avagyan: Mrs. Danielian, you met and had an interview with artistic director of Karin Armenian Ethnographic Dance Ensemble Gagik Ginosyan. What did you talk about in particular? I think you had met with him to learn about ethnographic dances…

Vardi Danielian: Yes, I have already talked about that. I really wanted to know about the names and moves of dances, the history of the dances, how the costumes and dance melodies are selected. I talked about all this with Ginosyan, and I am very thankful for that. I want to teach Armenian students of Canada and include dance as a subject in the curriculum. I need to talk to our board of trustees and His Holiness about this.

Karine Avagyan: You have made a unique contribution to the field of pedagogy in your country of residence. You have taught your students the traditions of the Armenian nation and introduced them to the traditional rituals. You have also told them about Armenian mythical heroes and have shown your approach. How do they react?

Vardi Danielian: They listen with great pleasure and ask questions. One day, they asked me if one of our mythical heroes, Tork Angegh had a childhood, and I invented the story of the childhood of Tork Angegh for them. In the history of mythology, the Greek non-gods (they are not gods for me) are described starting from their childhood, but only Vahagn (among the gods of Armenia’s pagan period) and David of Sasoun have a short childhood. I have always tried to make sure my students learn a lot about the great world that is referred to as Armenia. Our students receive an Armenian education. We have books from Armenia and books in Western Armenian. For 6th-8th graders, we have children’s literature, but they are no longer interesting for 12-13-year-olds. They are more interested in ethnographic stories and adventures. So, I try to include those topics in the curriculum, even stories that feature short love stories.

Karine Avagyan: Please, tell us about your school’s activities and the Armenian communities of Canada.

Vardi Danielian: The St. Jacob Armenian School of Montreal has 700 students and a preschool for children up to 3 years old. Students study for 12 years, receiving an Armenian education and upbringing. We also have Armenian Saturday and Sunday schools for students who can’t attend an Armenian school every day. Our school is also a place for adults and children to hold their respective meetings and for scouts to hold their assemblies. We have a choir, a dance group and a television channel. Canadian-Armenians are quite active, especially the Armenians of Toronto. The Syrian-Armenians conveyed a new air to the Armenian community. We would prepare the shelter for every Syrian-Armenian and provide them with food and clothes unconditionally.

Karine Avagyan: Mrs. Danielian, I know you have always been a correspondent for various newspapers and have written books and articles devoted to pedagogy…

Vardi Danielian: Yes, I write numerous articles, some of which are published in Canada’s Horizon Weekly. I also have works devoted to pedagogy…When I return, I will write an article sharing my impressions of Artsakh. We visited a military unit where I had an interview with a colonel who had participated in the battles in Aghdam. I don’t teach for the time being since I am busy writing articles, but I am always with the school and th students with heart and soul. I also carry out extracurricular activities. I have written over 30 articles devoted to pedagogy only for Horizon. I plan on integrating all of my articles into one book. I will also write a book devoted to my father because my father was a witness of the Armenian Genocide at the age of 9 and wrote notes later, and I will transfer all of his manuscripts to the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute.

This is the way Canadian-Armenian intellectual Vardi Danielian is. She is extremely patriotic, loves Armenia and Armenians, is a patriot, is active, is fair, is diligent, and words can’t describe how much she loves the Armenian nation. My interview with her could go on forever, if time kept on going. Vardi Danelian’s life and career are entirely impersonal and can be described with the following phrase: a life of self-incineration for the sake of Armenians.

Karine Avagyan

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