Once every other month, Maple Creek Elementary School in Clovis, California holds a cultural education night. They do this to introduce their young students to the history and culture of the different groups of people who inhabit the Central Valley in the hopes of creating a sense of tolerance and understanding.
For the month of January Willow Creek chose to focus on the Armenian people. The administration asked Fresno Armenian Youth Federation Kevork Chavoush Chapter and ARF’s Kristapor Mikayelian Badanees to put together a small program that would educate their students on Armenia’s history and the culture and beliefs of its people.
The night started off with the schools parents and children enjoying popular Armenian foods such as tabouleh, Armenian summer salad, and pilaf.
Then, Ung. Paul Sarimazian, Badanee advisor, began the program by speaking of Armenia’s history, its wars, their victories, and of course, its tragedies. He passed around vibrantly colored photos of places in Armenia’such as Garni and a map of what was historical Armenia. Then our fellow Ungerouhis: Lori Havatian, Tania Kasparian, Rita-Marie Costanian, and Aline Makaryan out together an interpretation of a historical dance by combining elemen’s from dances they learned in Hamazgayin. Afterwards, Badanee Zaven Ohanian introduced the fascinated students to the oud and how its notes work, and later, he sang for them.
Our night at Willow Creek ended with the children coloring in an Armenian flag as our members explained to them the meaning of the three colors. It did our hearts good to see all of those little faces, of all different ethnicities, so excited to learn about the Armenian people. They watched in awe as our ladies danced and looked vigorously for the correct colors of our flag. Once they were all done, they proudly held up their drawings and explained to their parents what the three colors stood for.