Shogher Simonyan: “Young Bulgarian-Armenians really loved Armenia”

In late April, young Armenians of the Bulgarian city of Varna and Burgas visited Armenia through the “Ari Tun” Program organized by the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia. They were escorted by directors of the Gaiane Marashyan Dance Group Mary Seferyan and Ivan Khristov and Chairwoman of the Armenian Relief Society Varna Chapter, member of the local diocesan council and delegate of the diocesan council Shogher Simonyan, who gave an interview to Hayern Aysor.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Simonyan, what made you decide to organize the young Bulgarian-Armenians’ trip to Armenia for homeland recognition?

Shogher Simonyan: When I read about the “Ari Tun” Program on the Internet, I decided to bring them to Armenia so that they could learn more about Armenian culture and Armenian national traditions up close.

After that, I told the employees of the Department for Armenian Communities of Europe at the Ministry of Diaspora about my decision, and they generously paid heed to my request and organized the young Armenians’ visit, for which I am more than grateful.

We would also like to thank benefactor Andranik Shakaryan, Chairman of the Church Council of Varna Massis Baghdatyan and all those who helped make this wonderful trip possible.

Hayern Aysor: Who came to Armenia?

Shogher Simonyan: The group comprised members of the Gaiane Marashyan Dance Group of Varna, as well as young people from Burgas. They are the young people who used to be Homenetmen scouts and attended Armenian language courses. I must say that there were also young Armenians and Bulgarians who were visiting Armenia for the first time ever.

We don’t spare any effort to provide young Bulgarian-Armenians with an Armenian education and upbringing and help them stay true to their religion, the native language and not become assimilated. We are well aware of the fact that they are the hope for our future and that we can unconditionally rely on them.

Hayern Aysor: What were their impressions of the “Ari Tun” Program?

Shogher Simonyan: Frankly, words can’t describe their impressions. They were so charmed by Armenia and admired the country so much that they had a hard time leaving the historic and cultural sites that we would visit. They wanted to know everything about the homeland. They left with tears in their eyes. Director of a Bulgarian dance group Ivan really loved Armenia and would constantly reiterate the fact that Armenia is a museum under an open sky.

I am certain that, after this visit, the young people will return to Bulgaria and make sure they preserve the Armenian identity and national values.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Simonyan, is there anything you would like to add?

Shogher Simonyan: I believe the “Ari Tun” Program serves as a big school for patriotism for young Diaspora Armenians since it helps them fully preserve the national identity.

May all Armenians of the world unite around Armenia and help the country develop. My biggest wish is that Armenia remains stable, the borders are safe and our brave soldiers serve in safety and return to their families.

Gevorg Chichyan

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