BY ARMINE KOUNDAKJIAN
There is an abundance of fowl talk and malice about our Homeland Armenia, which is sometimes justified and sometimes not so. Hereby I would like to report about a very positive educational and constructive TV program which you can watch every Sunday afternoon on Public H-1 channel. This program is called “HAY ASPET“ is a general knowledge competition game between students.
Since 2006 the Hye Aspet Foundation under the leadership of journalist, scenarist Mrs. Karin Donoyan established a school with the same name, and started this educational patriotic and Armenology oriented pedagogic game. Her ultimate goal is to raise knowledgeable, well rounded conscious future citizens of Armenia. During my conversation / interview with her, I reiterated, that being a mere consumer person is not what our homeland needs. A consumer of goods can live anywhere, what we need is a concerned citizenry who cares about Armenia. A citizen who loves his/her country and serves in all capacity. I am sure that the graduates of the Hye Aspet School that she has established, will just be that kind of youth.
She wants her students to be armed with worldly knowledge, and have super awareness, in order to resist and fight the destructive foreign forces that are deliberately employing anti- Armenian policies. That is powers who do not have our best interests at heart. Karin Donoyan’s journalistic career includes series of scenarios for TV, fifteenth anniversary of the Armenian Arm Forces, and Monte Melkonian’s 50th. anniversary celebration. Currently she is working on songs dedicated to the ancient city of Ani, which will be performed with dances choreographed by Martin Aharonian.
This game show is filmed at the professionally set up studio located on the first floor of the Hye Aspet school site, which is a large two story building on Arshagoonyantz Ave. Every day 35 select, highly-motivated youngsters attend classes. These children have gone through vigorous exams prior to admission. On Saturdays, 80 select students attend the school for the entire day with a one hour nutritious lunch break. The director-principal Donoyan hopes to expand the school facilities so she can accept a much larger group of daily students. These students are being taught by hand picked master teachers.
Every week 11 students from the Republic’s 105 schools come to this school site to participate in the competition game. Up until today a total of one million students have participated. Prior to the game she sends them relevant books to study, along with CD’s and DVD’s. The students have 2 months to prepare the materials. Three groups designated by the Armenian flag colors, red, blue and orange compete against each other. At the end of school year, the group that has earned the highest score takes a week long fully paid for trip to historic Western Armenia.
In addition to the students, the soldiers of the Armed Forces of The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh also participate. Additionally, up to date, 18 military units from Artsakh and 30 military units from the R. of A. have participated. The entire program costs 20 million Dram which is provided by the RA federal government. Every week the winning teams receive gifts donated by the Pan Armenian Congress and other donors.
The school’s staff is composed of 27 persons, including office workers, the cook the dietician the librarian, the gardener etc. Parallel with the Republic’s standard curriculum, the school offers languages i.e. Russian, English and Turkish, epic stories, proverbs, fairy tales and sayings. The classes end at 5 p.m. All teachers are certified experts in their fields. There is 70 million Dram provided by the Department of Education and Ministry of Sciences, The defense department kicks in another 10-15 million Dram. These funds are also used to organize camping trips to the various scenic regions of the Republic such as, Gumri, Lori, Artsakh, Sunik, Tavoosh etc. Every year on the occasion of the Republic’s Independence Day on September 21 St. the students do mountain climbing to Mt. Aragats, Ajdahak and other peaks.
“We are raising a group of small brave and promising soldiers. We rejuvenate our national ethnic holidays and traditional festivals,” says Karin Donoyan.
Furure Plans: Mrs. Donoyan is planning a Flash Mob with 1800 Hye Aspet graduates on the occasion of the 100 memorial of the Genocide at the ancient city of Ani. With the help of RA government, she is planning to march to various regions of the country with 600-800 Hye Aspet students. There is another interesting plan brewing in her mind, i.e. to carry out an international signature drive to
UNESCO protesting about the deliberate distortions and defacing that is happening in Ani under the pretense of reconstruction of that city’s ancient ruins. The electronic address for the protest letters is “armcongress.am”. Turkish government has brought in Georgian pseudo experts for the renovation job. It is very obvious that these “experts” are erasing every trace of its Armenian origin.
After the above interview I sat thru the classes, then I visited the cafeteria during the lunch hour. The kitchen was clean and fully equipped. I saw the storage rooms of the gifts and uniforms that are worn during the game’s broadcast. At the end of our talk, Mrs. Donoyan gave me a very nice gift in the form of a globe in Armenian. This gift was in appreciation for last year’s donation of several dozens of my educational grammar game called “Armenian Homonyms.” This same gift is presented to an outstanding participant every week.
I left the school site very impressed and happy for having such an outstanding model institution. Anyone who has watched this TV program has marveled at the ability of the participants whose ages range from children as young as 8-9 to high school age. Many times the excellent quality of their spoken language can put some grown-ups to shame. The viewers have an opportunity to learn a lot of interesting facts such as, Armenian and world history , geography, grammar, music, Garegin Nejdeh’s teachings, military laws , science, biography of royal dynasties, etc.
Let’s wish more power to Karin Donoyan, to her dream of having a larger school and more facilities. In my opinion, the only draw back is that sometimes the Sunday broadcast time of 1:45 becomes pre empted by other events. For example last Sunday because of a football game broadcast, the HYE ASPET started at 7p.m. in the evening.