A Presence in Karabakh

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By Natalie Pilikian

As we continued our trip through Karabakh, my class visited the Shoushi School of Music, where young children explore their talents in order to be successful in life. While the principal took us on a tour of the building, we passed through the hallways of each level, checking out the classrooms that were completely different than ours in America. I began searching for a particular room as we hit the 3rd floor.

My friend and I slowly wandered away from the crowd, and we read the names of each room that passed us by. At last, there it was. The name of the classroom read, “In Memory of Edwin Isagholian,” and a sense of comfort rushed through my veins. I reached for the handle and twisted the knob, but there was a click. The door was locked. But that wouldn’t stop me. We asked the principal, who was a very kind man, if we could see this specific classroom, and he gave us the key. This key wasn’t only a key to the door, it was the key to my relief, my feeling of safety.

F DSCF3656The first thing I saw when I entered the room was a picture of my cousin, hanging from the wall. Memories began running through my mind as I slowly stepped forward. I thought about his passion for Armenia, how he fell in love after coming with his own class at my age. He always told stories of his wonderful experiences in Armenia. Once he went, he kept returning to his motherland. However, he lost his life three years ago in a tragic car accident. Along with his passion for his Armenian heritage, he also had a passion for art–the reason why this classroom was designed especially for art lessons. I walked between the mini easels, quietly thinking to myself while the principal spoke.

The last time Edwin had visited Armenia was in the summer of 2005, but I do not believe that it was his last visit, because he was with me during my Armenian experience. I felt his presence the moment I entered the room. I felt relieved, safe, and warm. I was proud to stand there in the middle of the class and call him my one and only brother. He accomplished more in his brief life than most. This experience was unlike any other, and the way I felt in that small moment was the highlight of my entire trip.

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