The following message was delivered by Sonia Peltekian, Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, Regional Executive Board Chairperson during the ARS of Western USA High School Graduates’ Award Night held at St. Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church Hall, in Hollywood, on June 4, 2007:
The Armenian Relief Society is the first and the largest Armenian women’s humanitarian organization, serving the Armenian communities throughout the world for almost a century.
We have been able to preserve our culture and identity in the Diaspora for decades, because our members believe in education. The Western Region has 26 chapters; 15 one-day schools, teaching Armenian language, history and culture; three preschools; 6 Social Service offices and a Child Youth and Family Guidance Center.
Our members work diligently to raise funds to support these endeavors, as well as projects in our homeland.
It has become the tradition of the Armenian Relief Society to honor and award graduating Armenian students in public schools who have excelled in their academics.
Honored guests, Counselors, parents, ARS members and especially dear award recipient graduates – The class of 2007.
On behalf of the Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, Regional Executive Board and our 26 chapter members, I would like to welcome you all this evening.
Congratulations graduates! I am honored to share this important day with you. Congratulations parents! I know from personal experience that you have supported your children and you are responsible for their achievement, you deserve a big thank you.
Please join me in thanking the faculty and staff of your High Schools. I am certain, that you have had some extraordinary counselors and teachers who prepared you for today, they mentored you and they believed in you and they taught you skills which will lead you in life to higher successes and achievements; they all deserve to be recognized.
I would like to congratulate you on all your successes in athletics, academics, music, art, school and community contributions.
Your high school graduation marks more than academic achievement. You have spent years dreaming about the freedoms and privileges of adulthood and your education will launch you wherever you want to go or whatever you choose to do. You must also remember that with adulthood come responsibilities.
The challenges of our generation were very different. It was the Cold War era and the aspirations of reaching the moon –
We reached the Moon and the cold war ended….
These were the challenges of my generation.
However, your generation – your generation is being challenged by globalization.
Globalization simply means that we are more connected to the rest of the world.
You were born into a generation as comfortable with globalization as you are with computers and text messaging on your cell phones.
It is the defining characteristic of this generation and this new century.
Each generation is put to the test. Each generation when faced with challenges or burdens—rises to the occasion and makes a difference.
Today is a call to action for you. Globalization is no ordinary force, and this is no ordinary time.
I hope that you continue your education in the best universities of this great Country, and you prepare yourselves to be able to compete as CEOs of international corporations. You need to get every bit of education you can so that you are prepared to compete with the rest of the world. It may be an associate’s degree from a community college a bachelor’s, doctorate or law degree, whatever form it may take, the education you receive will propel you to anywhere you want to go. However, remember, soon you will be competing for a job with folks in Armenia, Russia or India.
I hope that you approach the challenges of the new millennium just like those of my generation.
Dream big and do great things, be proud to be an American, but do not forget your roots, especially do not forget that you are Armenian, you have inherited over 5,000 years of History and culture from your ancestors. Learn from your history, be proud of your heritage and give back to your community. Make time in your life to volunteer. . .
The Armenian community has grass roots organizations; we are more in number in the Diaspora than in our homeland. Find your calling, whether it is in politics, sports, cultural or humanitarian organizations and be part of that organization to serve your community, give back, to your community whether it is American or Armenian organizations.
All of you here today, are embarking on one of the most exciting times in history. These times will test you, but I am sure you will step up to the challenges.
Just as my generation rose to the challenge to put the first man on the moon, and we were able to eradicate the cold war, I am confident that you will rise to the challenge of globalization.
Good Luck! Congratulations Graduates! and thank you.