LOS ANGELES—Employees of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and City of Los Angeles (LADOT) last month celebrated Diversity Day, where Armenian culture was proudly displayed among other ethnic cultural exhibits. The annual celebrations took place across the street from City Hall and the Los Angeles-Yerevan sister city sign in downtown Los Angeles.
The Armenian exhibit at the Diversity Day Event was made possible by a volunteer group of Armenian employees from Caltrans and the City of Los Angeles. The group set up a booth that displayed Armenian books, maps, artwork, and our Ayp-Ou-Pen (Armenian Alphabet). Visitors to the booth were able to learn about Armenia’s rich cultural history, listen to Armenian music and also sample freshly made Armenian pastry with Armenian coffee. Pastries and coffee were compliments of Sarkis Pastry of Glendale and Begin’s Café located at the plaza level of the Caltrans Building.
This year’s event organizer was Barkef Karapetian who works at Caltrans as a Transportation Engineer in their Design Department and led the group of volunteers in setting up the Armenian booth. Special thanks go to Karine Partamian also from Caltrans, who not only provided most of the artwork, but designed informative displays highlighting Armenian achievements throughout the world. Raffi Mardirossian, a UC Berkley student of Architecture and son of Alec Mardirossian from Caltrans, designed the Armenia booth banner while Alec helped arrange the Armenian musical performance. Ruzanna Adamyan of Caltrans also helped by lending many Armenian literary books for display to the exhibit. This is the 3rd time in 4 years that Armenian Culture has been displayed at the Caltrans Annual Diversity Day Event. Armenian Culture was first represented at the multicultural event in 2008. In that first year the Armenian exhibit was led by Shahe Terjimanian who wanted to give co-workers and passers-by alike an opportunity to learn about our rich culture and heritage.
Visitors to the booth were able to learn many things about Armenia and the Armenian People. Among them were that Mount Ararat, the resting place of Noah’s Ark, is the most revered symbol of the Armenian people, that Yerevan, the Capital city of Armenia is 2, 793 years old (as old as Babylon and 50 years older than Rome) and that Armenia was the first nation in the world to adopt Christianity as its state religion (301 AD). Also, visitors were able to learn that many famous people in American society are of Armenian descent such as former California Governor George Deukmejian, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author William Saroyan, and tennis star Andre Agassi among others.
The Armenian Music was headed by the Element Band, composed of band members Ara Dabanjian, Karni Hadidian, and Shant Mahserejian. In a courtyard setting in front of an estimated one thousand state and city employees, it was the Armenian organizers turn to present a sample of their musical heritage. After a colorful introduction by Garen Yegparian, a City of L.A. employee, Element band began to play a selection of their ethnic Armenian music. As the music played members of the Armenian group and their co-workers joined in a shurch bar (Circle Dance) to the delight of onlookers. It was a day to remember; Armenian Style. The festivities lasted until 2 pm.