Armenian News Network / Groong


Early Nurture Produces Future Leaders for Armenia

Armenian News Network / Groong
January 10, 2011

By Ruth Bedevian

    All over Armenia, many individuals and organizations are planting
    seeds which are taking root.  Each time I visit, I learn more of
    what people are doing in their own little corners of the world to
    make life better.  These seeds don't make big news, but the
    knowledge of the planting and the growing harvests are worthy to
    be shared.  The Azkatroshm (Seal of the Nation/Rite of Passage) of
    the Khrimian Guhrtojakh (Educational Center) of Oshagan is one
    such story.
OSHAGAN, ARMENIA

Sourp Mesrob Oshagan
St. Mesrob Mashtoz Church in Oshagan.
Ruth Bedevian
His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, invited 13 young women, graduates of the Khrimian Guhrtojakh of Oshagan to the Holy See of Etchmiadzin where he gave them his fatherly blessings. After receiving the honor of a private audience with the Supreme Patriarch of All Armenians, the young women returned to their local parish of St. Mesrob Mashtoz in Oshagan, where the first Azkatroshm was celebrated. These graduates (called azkasanoohies) accompanied by their azkahyr and azkamahyhr (mentors) made an impressive procession to the altar of St. Mesrob Mashtoz to receive honor stoles, bearing the logo which displays Mt. Ararat (the land), Etchmiadzin (religion) and the Rainbow (of the Armenian alphabet) that symbolizes culture. The logo is a reminder for these future leaders that their faith and culture are inevitably intertwined and it is their duty to nurture their land, faith and culture. Bishop Mgrdich Proshyan, (who recently served a pastorate in Pennsylvania, USA) is primate of the Diocese and presided over the ceremony which took place before full attendance with 5 clergymen assisting him. After the ceremony the Primate presented azkanushans (a necklace which is the map of Armenia with a cross in the middle) and certificates to the azkasanoohies, and a special certificate of acknowledgement to the azkahahyrs and azkamahyrs for taking upon themselves the responsibility of mentoring the participants.

An azkasanoohie smiled broadly, saying, `I feel very happy today, and I look forward to more accomplishments in my future!'

Founded in the USA in 1987, the Khrimian Lyceum, is a 6 -year program for graduates of Armenian Saturday and/or Day Schools (elementary). The Khrimian Lyceum (known as the Khrimian Guhrtojakh in Armenia) is named after Catholicos Mgrdich Khrimian (1820-1907), the faithful leader who encompassed qualities of inspiring patriotism and who also favored educating women. It was created by Sylva Der Stepanian (Armenian Language Lab & Resource Center ALLARC - USA) and follows the same guidelines as in the USA where it has been enjoying success under the auspices of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church.

Thirteen Graduates
Bishop Mgrdich Proshyan with 13 graduates
(azkasanoohies) wearing their honor stoles
inside St. Mesrob Mashtoz Church in Oshagan.

Ruth Bedevian
Its mission is to inspire good citizenship by creating leaders who are rooted and educated in their religious and cultural heritage while imparting a desire to make a commitment to give back to society. Deportment is fundamental. From the onset, young people are treated as leaders. Beginning at age 10- and clad in their uniforms bearing the Khrimian logo, local youth meet weekly after school for 2 1/2 hours at the St. Mesrob Mashtoz diocesan center, where St. Mesrob, creator of the Armenian alphabet is entombed in the church.

The day's program begins with a prayer and singing of Khrimian's anthem, then reading of an Armenian newspaper followed by discussion. The curriculum includes; moral principles, religion, literature including Bible readings, and learning of the Badarak. An Armenian leader is selected each year and his/her biography is studied. Other inclusions are; Hokihankisd services for participants' loved-ones, popular songs, art, dance, drama, computer skills, writing skills which include journalism techniques, celebrations of holidays, honoring teachers and end-of-year milestones.

Through the cooperation and encouragement of Roupen Mizakhanyan who is Rector of Yerevan's Khatchadour Apovian Pedagogical University, speakers are engaged to offer their expertise. One such speaker has been Ara Gevorkyan, famed musicologist both in Armenia and the Diaspora, who held a workshop, helping the youth to compose music. Other speakers- all experts in their field of knowledge -have included a woman lawyer from the ministry of justice, clergymen, doctors, historians, scientists, and choreographers These role models motivate the youth to strive to discover their own horizons.

Fr. Proshyan
Bishop Mgrdich Proshyan
Ruth Bedevian
Once a year a one-day symposium is organized and it is run by the students. The 2010 symposium's theme was The Armenian Family of the Third Millennium. Accomplished professionals were invited to speak and hold discussions with the youth. Also once a year the young people are required to organize an event demonstrating their various talents in performances.

Internships and volunteer work in various organizations are also required, as well as end-of-the-year oral and written exams. Each year a new level is introduced and by 2012 the sixth and final level will be achieved. The grades bear names, rather than numbers, infusing Armenian images: Red, Blue, Orange, Ararat, Hayastan, Yerevan.

Nectar Sarkissian Munro, as treasurer of Khrimian Guhrtojakh of Oshagan, has also acted as coordinator of the educational center. Being a loyal supporter of the program from its inception, she has enjoyed active participation in its development to provide enlightened leadership for Armenian's future. Interested parties are encouraged to contact her for more details and information at nectar.munro@gmail.com.

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Ruth Bedevian continues her visits in Armenia. Many of her articles are at:
	http://www.groong.org/orig/armeniahousemuseums.html
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