BY LALAI MANJIKIAN
If you have never been to Armenia or have visited before and are looking for a trip that is centered around our centuries-old riches and cultural gems, then look no further. For the past 17 years, the Hamazkayin Student Cultural Forum has created the opportunity for hundreds of young Armenian university students from all over the world to converge, discover, and share their Armenian heritage directly from the source. Students from North and South America, Australia, Europe, Armenia, and Artsakh (Karabakh) have traveled to Yerevan for an intense two-week journey through the immensely rich cultural landscape of Armenia.
This summer program, specifically tailored for university students of Armenian descent, entails complete cultural immersion and exposes the participants to the crème de la crème of Armenian art and culture, both classic and contemporary. Guided visits include trips to various monasteries dating from medieval times and museums such as the National Gallery of Armenia, National History Museum, Genocide Museum, Aram Khachaturian Museum, Parajanov Museum, and Martiros Saryan House-Museum. The Forum even offers special access to performances by the National Opera or by such ensembles as the Sayat Nova folkoric music ensemble. Such unique events are followed with a question and discussion session, allowing participants to further learn about traditional Armenian culture and express their thoughts and emotions.
Forum participants from different parts of the diaspora, as well as from Armenia and Artsakh, bring their individual perspectives and cultural backgrounds to various issues, while new friendships and bonds are created—all in a memorable and dynamic social atmosphere. The sheer amount of local cultural and artistic talent found in Armenia is as mind-boggling as it is inspiring. And the Hamazkayin Forum succeeds in exposing these treasures to the youth, who undoubtedly leave with a renewed sense of their cultural identity, ready to broaden their own interest and commitment towards Armenian culture throughout the world.
Official visits to both the American University of Armenia and Yerevan State University are also included in the program, allowing students to discover the college scene in the homeland. Daily lectures by prominent Armenian scholars from the diaspora and Armenia create opportunities to engage with such topics as our identity, language, religion, and history. A visit to the country’s army battalions grants participants a rare glimpse into the country’s military and a chance to meet the young men serving our country, while excursions outside of Yerevan introduce them to some of the realities in the non-urban regions of Armenia. After catching a play or concert, they are bound to have a good time at one of Yerevan’s many restaurants, where live Armenian music and dancing make the night complete.
This summer, from July 14-28, come join the Hamazkayin family—along with fellow Armenian university students from all over the Armenian Diaspora—in Yerevan for the 2012 Hamazkayin Forum.
For more information or to register, visit www.hamazkayin.com.
Lalai Manjikian is a Ph.D. candidate in communication studies at McGill University. She is the author of Collective Memory and Home in the Diaspora: The Armenian Community in Montreal, published in 2008. Her current research is on the social exclusion and inclusion of refugees from different parts of the world seeking asylum in Montreal.