Conference to Tackle New Challenges in the Changing Armenian American Youth Identity in Armenian Schools

BURBANK–In an effort to address and reassess the cultural identity development process of the Armenian-American youth–the Board of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools has organized a conference–"Armenian Education In North America: Reassessment In The Context Of The Changing Armenian American Identity," June 4-5–at Woodbury University.

A variety of questions will be tackled–including the sociological and psychological view on cultural identity development–pedagogical challenges in Armenian education and instruction–and the need for reassessing the existing Armenian curriculum.

Over the past 30 years–the concept of cultural identity development has been the focus of a wide body of research. During this period–as society has become structurally more complex–the findings of research related to cultural identity have confirmed that members of culturally diverse groups undergo a developmentally-based process through which they form a cultural identity that defines their bi- or multicultural status in society. Thus–regardless of the specific characteristics of a cultural group–an individual’s minority status in a dominating culture (i.e.–White) triggers the process of cultural identity development as a result of the larger majority-minority dynamics in society.

As such–the cultural identity development of the Armenian American student is a critical factor that must be taken into account in the context of the curricula of Armenian schools in America. The conference will attempt to systematically explore the relevance of cultural identity development to Armenian American students–and to find practical ways of giving students the opportunity to successfully integrate the various components of their cultural identity into a constructive whole.

After opening remarks by Yeznig Kazandjian of the Board of Regents and a program introduction by Dr. Rubina Peroomian of UCLA–the Friday session will commence.

Session I–from 10:00 AM–12:00 Noon–will address the Development of the Armenian American Cultural Identity: A Sociological Perspective. Panelists include LAUSD School Psychologist Garine Minasian–LAUSD School Psychologist/Bilingual Armenian Assessment Jeannine Topalian–and Mesrobian Armenian School Principal Hilda Saliba–among other distinguished experts in the field.

Session II–from 1:30 PM–3:30 PM–will focus on the psychological perspective of the development of the Armenian American cultural identity–with a presentation by Rose & Alex Pilibos School Principal Dr. Viken Yacoubian–and panelists including Pasadena High School Assistant Principal Curriculum and Instruction Marisa Sarian–Clinical Psychologist Dr. Nora Sahakian–and Krouzian Zakarian Vasbouragan Armenian School Principal Olia Yenikomshian–among others.

With the instruction of Armenian subject matters a primary component in Armenian schools–Saturday’s session will be devoted to how the Armenian language–history–national-religious studies–and cultural heritage are taught through traditional curricula–using content-appropriate textbooks–as well as the challenges and necessary steps to be taken.

Session I–from 10:00 AM–12:00 Noon will delve into the pedagogical challenges in Armenian education and instruction. Presenters on the topic include UCLA Research Associate Dr. Rubina Peroomian–and Educational Consultant/trainee David Ghougassian.

The reassessment of the Armenian curriculum is the focus of Session II–from 1:30 PM–3:30 PM–with presentations by AGBU Manoogian-Demirjian School Principal Hagop Hagopian–and Holy Martyrs Ferrahian School Principal John Kossakian.

The Armenian daily schools in North America have a history that dates back more than forty years. The 21st century places new challenges in terms of reassessing Armenian education and identity–and the praiseworthy input of all the participants will surely mark it as a productive and successful conference.

Location: Woodbury University
Cabrini Hall (New Woody’s)
7500 Glenoaks Blvd.–Burbank–CA 91510

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