May God be with the Armenian school

Prelate of the Armenian Diocese in Tehran, His Eminence, Archbishop Sepuh Sarkisian was one of the participants of the Pan-Armenian Forum for Heads and Representatives of Diaspora Armenian Organizations. He actively participated in several discussions, spoke of emigration and preservation of the Armenian language.

Upon “Hayern Aysor”’s request, His Holiness also spoke of the issues related to armenian schools and Armenian education in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

According to the annual cherished tradition, this year I also visited schools, spoke to students and had meetings with superintendents and parent councils in light of the start of the new 2011-2012 academic year. These beneficial, as well as promising and motivating visits are more than a custom for me because when I stand in front of hundreds of schoolchildren as a leader, I feel proud and happy because in their eyes I see and picture the Armenian community of the future with its visions and dreams. On the last day of the visits, I was standing in front of the children of the kindergarten of the sisters of Mariam Institution. My voice was a little shaky as I said i was very happy to be with them and asked them to pray for me. I told them to start the program with the Lord’s Prayer. After the prayer and good wishes, I listened to them recite poems, sing and then gave a speech upon the superintendents’ request. I started speaking with joy and suddenly, one of the children named Sebastia told me, “Your Holiness, we prayed for you and now you feel better”. He was so innocent.

I truly felt better and thanked young Sebastia. With the cries of our angelic children, kindergartens truly turn into a “home of angels” and every time I enter that “home”, I ask God to bless and be the guardian of children. This year I saw more discipline, awareness and the ability to listen to me as I spoke, and that made me very happy. I saw that the Parent Councils and the superintendents were satisfied with the students’ studies and punctuality. I also tried to transmit my love and tenderness to all students and the message to study well, preserve their language, faith and history so that they can become good Armenian fathers and mothers and committed youth.

I stressed the importance of the mission and calling of Armenian schools and reminded everyone that the Armenian school is the citadel for the Armenian nation’s existence and eternal life, and that the Armenian school is a spiritual homeland where Armenian students feel like they are in a familiar environment each time they enter that homeland. Our schools may be different in terms of activities and students’ diligence, but I am deeply convinced that no matter how Armenian schools are, they are irreplaceable in terms of the atmosphere, discipline and Armenian students’ zeal toward their mental and spiritual development.

Armenian schools are like a family, which educates the future Armenians. The leader, the intellectual has graduated from that school and has continued his life.

Armenians must act by staying loyal toward national values, their own values because without that loyalty, Armenians will start to retreat and will be able to justify themselves very easily. Love for all that is foreign is one of the Armenians’ negative phenomena. Let’s not confuse that love with altruism. A person that loves all that is foreign can’t see and appreciate his own values.

Through this, we alienate our children by giving them perverse and often absurd names and take them to foreign school. This not only happens in our communities, but elsewhere as well. Armenians in Armenia prefer “foreign language schools” over Armenian language schools. Armenians in the Diaspora take their children to foreign schools with unjustified excuses.

If our language, faith and history characterize our identity, and if Armenians must be able to preserve their identity in today’s globalized society, then with some logic, we were depriving our children of those irreplaceable means of self-defense.

It is Armenian parents’ duty to provide their children with Armenian education and discipline and follow up on their education. Studious and diligent students are diligent in any part of the world. The only thing left for us to do is to follow up on the process of education. If there are flaws in our schools, and it is natural, then we are all responsible. I make mistakes when fulfilling my obligations and commitments in school, but I also become the “slave” of that school by sending my child to a foreign school. If only Khachatur Abovyan saw what we were doing for the sake of “knowledge”.

After visiting all of our schools, I became convinced once again that the Armenian school is like Noah’s Ark in the Diaspora. It is all Armenians’ obligation to protect the Armenian school for a bright future. Based on all this, I call on the children of the Iranian-Armenian, but especially Tehran-Armenian community to think about giving their children exemplary names such as the names of Armenian heroes, saints and writers. Secondly, I call on the dear Armenian people to restore the values that represent their nation and religion. Don’t forget that Armenian school is your home where you feel like the owner and that you have the right to act as the landlord.

Prepared by Levon Mutafyan

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