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Prof. Ashot Melkonyan’s Participation in ARS Javakhk Fund Programs

c5c0a28a3994ca1491828123987c79bf_xsAcademician, historian, author of various publications, and a native of Javakhk, Professor Ashot Melkonyan, accompanied by his wife Lucine, visited the Western United States to take part in Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Western USA Javakhk Fund Committee’s annual fundraiser event and public forums to present lectures on the past, present, and future of Javakhk.

A welcome reception was hosted at Mr. and Mrs. Khoren and Emma Salmassian’s residence on Friday, February 27, 2015 at 7 p.m., during which Professor Melkonyan was introduced to the ARS family.

March 1st Cruise

On Sunday, March 1, 2015 the annual cruise fundraiser to benefit of Javakhk Armenians was held aboard the Electra Eternity Yacht. Representatives of sister organizations, ARS donors and sponsors, and ARS Regional Executive and chapter representatives, members and guests were in attendance.

The blessing of the tables and the invocation was performed by Very Rev. Fr. Boghos Tinkjian representing His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian of the Western Prelacy. He also conveyed the Prelate’s message, which praised the ARS for the work being done in Javakhk, an integral part of our perpetual rights and claims.

ARS Javakhk Fund Committee Chairperson Lena Bozoyan made opening remarks, introduced guests and spoke about the committee’s work and goals, paying special attention to the ARS-sponsored youth centers in Javakhk, which have instilled a sense of motivation and hope among the community and especially the youth. She also emphasized the need for a preschool in Akhaltskha, where children can learn the Armenian language and history.

Bozoyan invited, Haigoush Keghinian-Kohler, the former committee chairperson since the startup of the committee, to convey her message. Kohler noted the significance of service to Javakhk and talked about how the committee was formed 14 years ago at the request of the ARS Central Executive Board. The first three members of the committee had included herself and ARS members Hasmig Derderian and Mako Mgrdichian.

Following a video of the accomplishments of the ARS Javakhk Fund Committee in Javakhk, Bozoyan introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Professor Ashot Melkonyan. He noted that Javakhk is no longer a forgotten region and expressed that the Californian-Armenian community is close to the hearts of Javakhk Armenians. He said that Javakhk remains as the only historical region of Armenia populated by Armenians, outside of Armenia’s borders. He conveyed that rather than financial assistance, the proud Armenians of Javakhk are more in need of spiritual support, and that it is up to the collective responsibility of all Armenians from Los Angeles to Sydney to Russia to Buenos Aires to Paris to stand by the Armenians in Javakhk.

On behalf of the ARS of Western USA Regional Executive, Co-Chairperson Rebecca Berberian, joined by Committee Chairperson Bozoyan presented a plaque to Mr. Alec and Dr. Alenoush Baghdasaryan for their many years of service and dedication to Javakhk Armenians. In addition to their assistance to the Javakhk Armenians, the Baghdasaryans have a remarkable track record of achievements in Armenia and Artsakh.

ARS Regional Executive remarks were made by Co-Chairperson Maral Matossian, who noted that through ARS efforts, the youth centers in Akhalkalak and Akhaltskha not only serve the youth’s recreational needs, but also as a place where they can learn about their cultural heritage. She added that preserving the Armenian identity of Javakhk Armenians must be deemed as a collective responsibility, but deemed that new approaches were needed.

As supporters made donations, they were announced by ARS General Manager Jasik Jarahian. Celebrated singer Hovaness Shahbazian entertained guests with Armenian traditional and folk songs.

Lectures and Visits

Professor Ashot Melkonyan also made two public appearances in Glendale and San Francisco, where he was invited as a guest lecturer to speak about the history of Javakhk, as well as its current situation and future outlook. Professor Melkonyan also had the opportunity to visit various Armenian institutions, schools and take part in meetings with representatives of Armenian organizations. He paid his respects at the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument in Montebello and at Soghomon Tehlirian’s gravesite in Fresno.

He visited the following schools, meeting with students and engaging in discussions about Javakhk and Javakhk Armenians: Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian School, Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School, Mesrobian Armenian School, AGBU Demridjian-Manoogian Armenian School, TCA Arshag Dickranian Armenian School, Chamlian Armenian School, and Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Armenian School.

During his visit, Professor Melkonyan further educated the Armenian community about Javakhk and encouraged the community to continue to morally and financially support of Javakhk and Javakhk Armenians., saying that “For the sake of Javakhk, for the sake of Armenia and Georgia, we do not have separationist problems. We will live side by side in the region, but people need to wake up and understand that we have Armenians living in Javakhk, who will not leave the land.” His message was that Javakhk is not a part of the Armenian Diaspora, but an integral part of the homeland.

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The Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, established in 1984 and with regional headquarters in Glendale, CA, has 26 chapters and more than 1,200 members in four western states. The ARS operates a Social Services Division and Child, Youth, and Family Guidance Center, and funds numerous youth programs, scholarships, and relief efforts. For further information or to make a donation, please visit www.arswestusa.org or mail your check to: ARS Javakhk Fund, 517 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Glendale, CA 91202-2812.

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