HOLLYWOOD—On April 28, 2016, over one hundred guests attended the fourth ‘Visit Armenia, It Is Beautiful’ essay contest award ceremonies held at the “Raffi” Cultural Association Center in Hollywood, California.
The essay contest, open to high school students (grades 9th to 12th) who registered to participate, allowed submission of essays written in English or Armenian, where participating students could freely express their thoughts, feelings and reasons as to why they wished to visit Armenia. Additionally, this year’s contest required inclusion of hypothetical meetings with ministry department heads in Armenia to discuss relevant issues for the improvement of conditions affecting Armenia.
The essays were not only emotionally charged with nationalistic and patriotic sentiments, but the students presented brilliant ideas and suggestions which were practical, workable and dealt with current issues and problems affecting Armenia requiring immediate attention. Some of the topics included discussions with the various ministers dealing with improvement of the education system, updating schools, finding ways to keep children in school and seeking higher education, the need to provide affordable healthcare and educate the public on issues of health care, environmental preservation, ways to improve Armenia’s economy through job opportunities and tourism which would lead to a decline of the need to migrate outside Armenia in search of work.
Present at the awards’ ceremony were members of the local media, High School Principals, teachers, the Executive Director of CASPS, parents, students and supporters of the “Visit Armenia, It is Beautiful” campaign.
Vartouhi Tavoukjian, the evening’s Emcee, praised the determination and efforts of the “Visit Armenia It Is Beautiful” project ‘s past fifteen years. Savannah Minassian beautifully sang the national anthems of the United States and the Armenia. Following a moment of silence in memory of the innocent Armenian lives recently lost in Artsakh and Syria, the program commenced.
In his opening remarks, Ara Boyadjian, founder of “Visit Armenia, It Is Beautiful” explained the importance of the “Visit Armenia, It is Beautiful” campaign, and the essay contest which helps connect Southern California high school students to the motherland.
Acknowledgment was given to the generous sponsors including attorney Hovanes Margarian and Armen Margarian of the Margarian Law firm. Additionally, acknowledgements included Shahe and Sahag Melelian of Arka Photography in Hollywood for documenting the event, the “Raffi” Cultural Association for hosting the event, Stepan Partamian/Knowledge Truck, Sardarabad Bookstore, Burbank, Western Diocees and Western Prelacy for donating books and gifts to the winners of the contest; as well as various individuals for their financial contributions and support of the campaign and essay contest.
This year’s judges included Tamar Baronian, JD., educator, and past VAIIB essay alternate judge; Minas Furnuzian, Owner of Minas TV Show, Journalist, community leader involved in several charitable organizations; Captain Garo Esguijian, Pilot, Instructor and world traveler; Eileen Keusseyian Esq., chair and member of several charitable organizations, active community leader and world traveler; Lena Melkonian Esq.; Chief Editor of the “Visit Armenia, It Is Beautiful” Project, world traveler with extensive travels to Armenia; and Alternate Judge, Lisa Boyadjian – Legal assistant, Armenian Bar Association Administrative Assistant, Administrator, Assistant Editor of the VisitArmenia.org website and world traveler.
Judges Furnuzian, Esgujian and Melkonian were present at the award’s ceremony and each expressed congratulatory remarks to the VAIIB project for this remarkable and important event. The essays had impressed the judges who conveyed their opinions and praise to all participants. .
All 11 winners received monetary awards, certificates and gifts.
The First Place winner Areni Chorbajian is a 9th grade student from Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School. Areni’s essay was in Armenian.
The Second Place winner Meghri Ashekian is a 9th grade student from Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian High School, who also wrote in Armenian.
The Third Place prize went to Talish Babaian , a 12th grade student from Clark Magnet High school, a second time winner, whose essay was written in English.
Eight Honorary Mention certificates and gifts were awarded to Nayiri Artounians – Pilibos; Ella Chakarian – Ferrahian; Arek Der-Sarkissian – Pilibos; Ani Ghazarian – Pilibos; Armine Kalbakian – Pilibos; Patyl Manoukian -Pilibos; Briana Markarian – Pilibos and Lucy Minasian- Ferrahian
The essay contest participants are the future travelers and Ambassadors of Good Will of Armenia. They will help facilitate the success of the “Visit Armenia, It Is Beautiful” campaign/project in its mission and commitment to promote tourism to Armenia, thus stimulating and boosting the country’s economy.
VISIT ARMENIA, IT IS BEAUTIFUL.