BY PUZANT BERBERIAN
This summer I have the privilege of going somewhere I have not been to before and have always been curious to explore: the historic Armenian region of Javakhk.
My curiosity first sparked in elementary school when I was introduced to Javakhk through a tin can wrapped in white paper with blue Armenian writing on it. My teacher explained that the Armenians living in this region needed help and the students had to fill up these cans with coins as a small way of contributing. I remember forgetting about the can in the corner of my room until the day before the deadline, and at that point, I would cram every coin I could find in the house into this Coca-Cola sized tin. If you are smiling as you are reading this, you probably had a very similar experience.
Unfortunately, this small fundraiser is one of the only things we associate with Javakhk. Few people know about the day-to-day struggles of the region and even fewer have actually visited the area. There is undoubtedly a need for education among the community about the history, culture, and realities facing Javakhk. This beautiful plot of Armenian land that is found outside of the current borders of Armenia has so much to offer. Even though it was gifted to Georgia by the Soviet Union in the 1920’s, it still has a large Armenian community that longs for the strong support of the Diaspora.
My decade-long curiosity about Javakhk has motivated me to research and explore this region. What I’ve found so far is that Javakhk is safe and should be visited by Armenians from all over the world so Javakhktis can see that we are here for them and more importantly so we reconnect with the land and people.
My trip is organized by the Armenian Youth Federation Eastern Region Camp Javakhk program and will have about twenty young Armenian participants from North America. We will be hosting day camps for kids in Javakhk, teaching them about Armenian history, song, and dance. It is programs like these that empower youth to take on the responsibilities of nation building.
I’m excited about the trip, and look forward to writing more about what I see and experience.