Arsine Shirvanian: “We strive to find innovative solutions ”

In an interview with Hayern Aysor, co-founder of the Melkonian Global Overture Arsine Shirvanian presented the Օrganization’s programs in Diaspora and Armenia. 

 – Hayern Aysor: I would like to ask you tell us about Melkonian Global Overture, when was it established and what is the priority of this initiative?

Arsine Shirvanian: Melkonian Global overture was established in 2017.

At MGO we are committed to renewed vitality and establishment of the self-sustainability of historic and iconic institutions while redefining their 21st century function.

We are particularly committed to educational institutions globally. We believe that keeping the educational institutions alive and thriving is the key to the growth of a Smart and Global Armenian. We believe that a strong and thriving Diaspora is imperative for a strong and thriving motherland. What better way to do this than to have the best education globally for Armenian Youth!!!

We strive to find innovative solutions and immediate response to existing challenges while involving and empowering the Youth in the process.

We hope to recognize all schools/educational institutions in Diaspora that are in need of improvement and revitalization. We like to create a systematic strategy where we can revitalize and restore them to full functionality and sustainability.

This is MGO’s three “R” approach: Recognize, Revitalize and Restore.

Hayern Aysor: With whom Melkonian Global Overture cooperates for the implementation of its programmes?

Arsine Shirvanian. As we are a young foundation we are at our very early stages of forming partnerships and relationships.

In the past, we have collaborated with UCLA, Public school systems such as Glendale unified district, Prelacy schools based in Los Angeles county, Senator Portanitino’s office, Ccouncul Member Paul Krikorian’s office, California assemblymember Adrin Nazarian’s office and Calouste Gulbenkian foundation.

Hayern Aysor: In winter, you initiated the “Living Diaspora” manual, which included a public discussion devoted to the Armenian language, to the 50th anniversary of the “Naregatsi” Armenian Studies chair at the University of California, Los Angeles and a unique concert programme. Please, tell us the details of the event.

Arsine Shirvanian: What was Living diaspora’s agenda:

We go back to our belief in an educated and empowered youth one that loves Armenian language, culture and the motherland. We not only celebrated 50 years of Armenian studies at UCLA but also succeeded to bring hundreds of students from many local high schools to participate in discussion panels about Armenian language, Culture and identity. We had guset speakers such as General councel of Los Angeles, Dr. Armen Baibourtian, Armenia’s Education minister Arayik Haroutounyan, and Dr. Razmik Panossian of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

The concert was to expose the young people to traditional as well as contemporary Armenian music.

Hayern Aysor: What do you think is a must to have a living diaspora and what do you think is currently lacking?

Arsine Shirvanian: Studies show that only 5% of the Armenians in Diaspora are connected or involved in any kind of Armenian organization.

This leads me to the question as to how the other 95% cultivate the Armenian spirit, Identity, language and culture.

The current leaders are set on spreading the dogma that Armenian schools are closing down due to contemporary and current needs of Diaspora. However we believe that there must be new ways in which we need to engage the youth in embracing the love of Armenian Language, culture and identity. We need to help the Armenian youth to find their 21st century young, thriving, happy and smart Armenian identity.

– Hayern Aysor: What programs do you plan to have in Armenia?

Arsine Shirvanian: We are currently working on organizing a conference that addresses the methods in which we can engage the youth in embracing the love of Armenian Language, culture and identity. We will be discussing ways to help the Armenian youth to find their 21st century young, thriving, happy and smart Armenian identity.

We will coloaborate with students and scholars from university of Yerevan to discuss and examine methods and programs in Armenian schools globally.

We like to present models of schools that would revitalize Armenian schools and help them continue their priceless work

Hayern Aysor: What do you think about M.E.I and how does Melkonian Educational Institute live in you spitits?

Arsine Shirvanian: It is an institution that is so deeply rooted and equal to the Armenian Genocide. If we erase Melkonian then we are erasing Armenian History. This is not an issue concerning only the alumni but one that should concern the Armenian nation and the government.

I like to think that Melkonian can be used as an example of International model of a school where it can be a symbol of excellence in education, empowerment and an example of how we respect and keep of traditions set by generous benefactors.I conclude with this sentiment:

Melkonian Educational Institute’s weathered iconic buildings reach down 1000s of feet, its roots spreading far wider and deeper than any tree.

And its lowest level you reflect on the immortal faces of victims of Genocide.

These buildings tells

One of suffering and delight

One of fear but also hope

One of injustice but also fair play

One of orphans wandering in the desert and then seeing out on the horizon a glimmer of promise land

We must not shy away from the truth

We should embrace it

We should reaffirm the promise of our benefactors

As these buildings and all iconic treasures in Diaspora,

It strengthens us!!!

It embodies us !!!

It should fortify us!!

It tells the story of many patriots!!!

It is an act of patriotism to understand where we have been!!!

It is cowardly not to do so!!!

Lusine Abrahamyan

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