2016 “Diaspora” Summer School Program: “There is a philosophy behind each sound of the Armenian alphabet”

The participants of the Accelerated Armenian Language Course (part of the “Diaspora” Summer School Program of the RA Ministry of Diaspora) are young Diaspora Armenians with a common purpose, and that is to have as good command of the Armenian language as possible. Some of them have just begun to learn Armenian, while others want to improve their knowledge. The one-month language course serves as a way for them to gain knowledge and learn in an Armenian environment. It is also a string that attaches them to the homeland. They share memories and feel Armenian, and they will remember their identity and language for a long time.

Among the participants are Armenian girls from Kiev. Hayern Aysor has already touched upon the activities of their Armenian language teacher, Ruzanna Martirosyan. Mrs. Martirosyan tlked about her students with so much dedication and generosity that I wanted to meet and talk to them as well. My interview with Karine, Marina, Milana, Milena, Ilona, Liana and Bella was quite friendly and straightforward. During the interview with Hayern Aysor, the girls talked about their desire to learn Armenian, their visit to Artsakh and the importance of national identity.

Learning Armenia is the imperative of the day

“It’s better late than never. We started learning Armenian when we were quite mature and some of us had already received an education and had jobs. However, over the years, the desire to learn the native language slowly went from being prudence to necessity. It was not only a desire or whim to learn another language, but our motivation and the voice in our inner worlds that made us realize this. Some of us only have one Armenian parent. When the mother is Armenian, she teaches her children the native language by the instinct of a mother. When it is the opposite, Armenian is very often forgotten and not used, and the rules are dictated through the main language of communication. We will also become parents and have children one day and won’t be able to teach them Armenian. Retreat from the language is the first stimulus for detachment from national identity. So, we found the right moment to learn Armenian and meet our demand. The opportunity also played a huge role. If it weren’t for the courses held by Ruzanna Martirosyan, we probably wouldn’t have such willingness to learn Armenian. She is a real teacher, and everything about her is Armenian. We still haven’t met anyone who feels the homeland with every cell and with every heartbeat. Thanks to her, we are learning Armenian and having a feel of the language. Mrs. Martirosyan’s courses are not only language lessons for us. They are first and foremost lessons of patriotism and Armenian upbringing. We will never forget the first day of the Armenian language courses when Mrs. Martirosyan was playing music and we were singing the Armenian national anthem. Each of us has a dream to think in Armenia and have full command of the language. Armenian is a difficult language, but there is a philosophy behind each sound of the Armenian alphabet. There is even a message in the letters and spirituality within the words, and we are becoming indulged in all this. However, language is not just letters and words. It is first and foremost a mindset, the logic of the gene, a lifestyle and culture. We are learning Armenian and are getting a better feel of the culture. Many have asked us why we don’t know our native language and why we don’t speak in Armenian, if we are Armenian. It is a sentimental, and sometimes shameful. They ask us how is it that we know Russian and English well, but don’t know Armenian well. There is no justification for this, and let nobody try to prove the opposite. We are saying this based on our experiences. However, obligation is not the only thing that made us make our decision to learn the language. If it was an obligation, we would stop studying after a week or a month and get back to our lives. No, learning Armenian gives us a feeling of great satisfaction. It makes us proud and self-confident. We have been establishing a closer connection to Armenia every day for the past year. Every day, we have a greater desire to recognize our homeland and love the homeland by recognizing.

We even managed to visit Artsakh. It is marvelous and is being reborn every day. You travel for hours, looking at greenery, and then you see Stepanakert and Shushi. It seems as though the heart of Artsakh is the capital, Stepanakert. We say Yerevan is a rosy city, and Stepanakert seems to be a white city, and the color white symbolizes peace. There is peace in Stepanakert and the feeling that this marvelous city in the heart of and far away from the rest of the world has never seen war, explosion of mines and bombings. Life is thriving in the afternoons as you see people rushing to work, as well as children and pregnant women. The day goes by quickly. People who are Armenian with their whole spirit and in terms of their history, are connected to Artsakh with a thousand and one strings. They don’t love Artsakh, but worship it. They don’t want to leave Karabakh. This is the land that their sons, fathers or relatives kept by sacrificing their lives. For them, this is the safest place to be under the sun. Which is safer-Paris, Berlin or Brussels? They are people with a special heart and mindset. We got a lot out of the visit to Artsakh. The peak of Shushi…the churches. Overall, Armenian churches convey a different kind of air and spirit. Wherever you go, you can see an Armenian church and feel the “Armenianness”. The architecture, the aura and the feelings are different. We have never seen the church be so close to nature. For instance, the Tatev Monastery is located in the heart of nature, but it is a spiritual center. When you enter it, it seems as though God is speaking to you and is speaking in Armenian. We hadn’t understood that Armenian for years, but now we are on the right path that leads to communication with God.

Each of us was born in a foreign environment. Nobody spoke in Armenian with us. We have been deprived of all this. Now, learning Armenian, even our world views are changing. Currently, we are participating in the summer school program. This served as a unique opportunity for us to rediscover Armenia, gain new skills and establish new contacts. It’s interesting to know what problems young Armenians from other countries have, how well they know Armenian and whether or not we are alike. You know, each of our lives is divided into two parts-before learning Armenian and after learning Armenian. Of course, we still have a lot to learn until we start speaking as fluently as the citizens of Armenia. Learning the Armenian language gave us new keys that will open many doors for us in the years to come.”

Amalya Karapetyan

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