Shoghik Pahlevanyan: “A generation of smart and patriotic Armenian children is growing up in the Armenian Diaspora”

The “Ari Tun” Program of the RA Ministry of Diaspora is aimed at helping Diaspora Armenian youth recognize their homeland, and one of the priority objectives is to hold Armenian language lessons for the young Diaspora Armenians.

During the five-day course, the Armenian language teachers of Yeghishe Charents School N 67 of Yerevan awaken in their souls the love for the Armenian language and literature and introduce them to the lives of great Armenians and the glorious pages of the history of the Armenian people. As for those who don’t know how to read and write in Armenian, they generously teach them the Armenian alphabet.

One of the teachers is Hayern Aysor’s interlocutor, Director of the “Veratsnund” (Renaissance) Armenian Sunday School (adjunct to the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in the Russian Federation), candidate of pedagogical sciences Shoghik Pahlevanyan, who spends her summer vacations in Armenia for teaching purposes.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Pahlevanyan, when did you start giving Armenian language lessons to the participants of the “Ari Tun” Program?

Shoghik Pahlevanyan: I started carrying out this major task in 2015. I received an offer from the RA Ministry of Diaspora and immediately agreed.

The Ministry of Diaspora had considered the fact that I live in Moscow and have been teaching Russian-Armenian children for nearly 30 years.

Through the “Ari Tun” Program, I teach children who don’t know Armenian at all, speak only Russian and have come from the Russian Federation and other cities.

During those couple of days, I teach them the alphabet and don’t spare any effort to help them speak Armenian as well as possible. I hold the course with the help of my Russian-Armenian and Russian-Armenian-English conversational books.

Teaching them the Armenian national anthem “Mer Hayrenik” (Our Homeland), the Lord’s Prayer, an Armenian national song and an Armenian dance and some patriotic poems is mandatory. This helps me fully use class time.

All this fills the young Diaspora Armenians with the Armenian spirit, and I can see that in their shining eyes.

In five days, I manage to teach them how to write their name and last name in Armenian, greet each other in Armenian and speak a little.

At the end of the course, I give the participants the Armenian alphabet as a gift so that they never forget our great alphabet in their countries of residence.

Hayern Aysor: What changes do you notice after the Armenian language lessons?

S. P.: To notice those changes, we teachers must first create favorable conditions so that they learn the Armenian language conscientiously and treat the lessons seriously.

I always advise my students to be attentive during the lessons and the tours. To check how they follow my advice, I ask them about their impressions and the historical and cultural sites that they visited the day before. I not only check their knowledge, but also help reinforce all that they have seen and heard.

I respect the parents and grandparents of young Diaspora Armenians who do everything they can to try to provide their children and grandchildren with an Armenian upbringing and don’t let them forget their native language.

Hayern Aysor: Which children are more interested during the lessons?

S. P.: It is a little hard for me to differentiate. For me, they are all equal.

Here we are united around one idea, and that is to teach Diaspora Armenian boys and girls Armenian.

First, I get to know the children, try to understand their state of mind and personal attributes and then start teaching.

I also urge them to establish contacts and become connected to the Homeland, receiving strength from the land and water.

Communicating with the participants of the “Ari Tun” Program, I have realized that a generation of smart and patriotic Armenian children is growing up in the Armenian Diaspora.

The participants of the program constantly ask me questions and want to gain as much knowledge as they can. They also motivate me.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Pahlevanyan, what do you do in Moscow?

S. P.: I am the director, methodologist and teacher of Armenian language and literature of the “Veratsnund” (Renaissance) Armenian Sunday School. I have been teaching at the school since the first day of its establishment.

The school was established in 1988 through the combined efforts of the Ministry of Enlightenment of Soviet Armenia, the Armenian community of Moscow and the permanent representation of Armenia. It has been located in the building of the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in the Russian Federation since the first day of its establishment.

The goal of establishing the school is to carry out activities aimed at preserving the Armenian identity abroad and help keep Armenian children of Moscow away from alienation.

There are over 200 schoolchildren, who are grouped according to their knowledge.

We have pre-school children, schoolchildren and children in the middle and higher grades, as well as university students.

We have boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 25. If there are people over the age of 25, we try to help them some way.

Hayern Aysor: What subjects are taught?

We teach Armenian language, literature and history, as well as Armenian national songs and dances.

The Academic Year 1988-89 was memorable for us since it was the year in which Catholicos of All Armenians Vazgen I visited our school during his Pontifical Visit to Moscow. He gave his blessing and wished us success in carrying out our activities aimed at preserving the Armenian identity. For us Armenians abroad, it was a great source of inspiration. We still have brilliant memories of that meeting.

We swore to the Supreme Patriarch that we would never stop helping Armenian children learn their native language, about Armenian culture and the history of the Armenian people and said we would continue to do everything possible to preserve the national identity.

Hayern Aysor: Mrs. Pahlevanyan, how long have you been collaborating with the RA Ministry of Diaspora?

S. P.: I have always been in touch with the RA Ministry of Diaspora since the first years of its existence. I have participated in all the forums and conferences and the Training Course for Teachers of Armenian Language and History and Organizers of Education, which is part of the “Diaspora” Summer School Program. The children of the “Veratsnund” (Renaissance) School regularly participate in the “Ari Tun” Program.

I believe the RA Ministry of Diaspora made the job easier for Armenian schools abroad. The fact that the Ministry of Diaspora sends us textbooks and holds training courses for teachers in Armenia already deserves appraisal. In the past, there weren’t many opportunities for Armenian teachers of the Diaspora.

I would like to express my gratitude to the RA Ministry of Diaspora, namely Minister Hranush Hakobyan for always finding paths to strengthen the bonds between Armenia and the Diaspora.

I would also like to thank the employees of the Ministry of Diaspora for working faithfully. Head of the Department of All-Armenian Programs Gagik Gyanjumyan and Head of the Division for Scientific and Educational Programs Sirvard Hambaryan play a huge role in the “Ari Tun” Program. Mrs. Hambaryan is always in touch with the teachers. She often organizes meetings, discusses various issues on organizing the courses effectively and introduces the teachers to news about the RA Ministry of Diaspora.

Gevorg Chichyan

Scroll Up