Archive for August, 2011

ACYOA Profile: Alex Ouzounian

August 29th, 2011    |    No Comments »

Alex Ouzounian, who serves as the public relations coordinator on the ACYOA Central Council, says the youth organization has helped him remain close to the Armenian Church as he transitioned into adulthood.

“The ACYOA means so much to me,” he said. “It has kept me connected to the church through my early teens and college years.”

In June, Alex was one of 34 young Armenians to make a 10-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Representing his parish, St. Mesrob Church of Racine, Wis., Alex embarked on a spiritual journey that he says will forever remain a part of him.

“The most memorable experience was visiting Christ’s tomb at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem,” he said. “Looking at the tomb, my body froze and I was unable to move for about five minutes.”

Alex was also moved by the centuries-old Armenian presence in the Holy Land, and by the present-day community which helps preserve our people’s rich legacy in the region.

In addition to playing an active role in the ACYOA, Alex has been involved with Hye Camp and St. Nersess Summer Conferences, among other activities.

“The Armenian Church and the ACYOA have done so many great things for me that I want to ensure that they continue,” he said.

Alex Ouzounian.

ACYOA Profile: Danny Mantis

August 18th, 2011    |    No Comments »

Since he was 15 years old, Danny Mantis has tried to express his dedication to the Armenian Church in tangible ways.  Invariably, much of that expression came through his deep involvement in the ACYOA.  And as Danny explains it, his current position as chairman of the ACYOA Central Council is part of a natural progression for him.

“Being ACYOA Central Council chairman has given me more responsibility, but it hasn’t been a huge step.  It’s just the next step in what I had already been doing.”

Being a voice for his peers as well as talking with other church leaders—clergy and lay alike—are things to which Danny looks forward in his new position.

To enrich his appreciation of his Armenian heritage, Danny traveled to Armenia in 2006 and 2007 to participate in Habitat for Humanity home-building programs.  Spending time in villages such as Vanadzor—so distinct from the life in larger cities—gave Danny a special insight into day-to-day life in Armenia.  Often, the conditions were poor compared to their lives in America; but Danny and his group considered it a privilege to work on whatever needed to be done.

The work was difficult, but very rewarding.  “I’m a richer person for having gone to Armenia,” he explains.  “If and when I go back, I would not do anything differently from my past two times.”

For Danny, outreach plays a key role in getting other youthful Armenians involved in ACYOA and in the Armenian faith and culture.  This past June, the Central Council sent three young women to Armenia for an eight-week internship and outreach mission.  They worked at the Fund for Armenian Relief Children’s Center in Yerevan, and also participated in the Birthright Armenia program.

“I’m very proud that the three young women have started to take on quite a bit of responsibility,” Danny says.  Providing opportunities for such spiritually uplifting experiences—whether in Armenia or in America—is a big part of the reason ACYOA was created in the first place.

Above all, ACYOA continues its long effort to give young adults a greater sense of their faith, their culture, and their Armenian Christian heritage.  It strives to instill in its members a true spirit of serving others.  For the present generation, that spirit is effectively exemplified in Danny Mantis.

Danny Mantis.

ACYOA Profile: George Macarian

August 11th, 2011    |    No Comments »

George Macarian, who is serving for the second year as treasurer of the ACYOA Central Council, says the organization has helped him grow both spiritually and professionally, and given him the opportunity to network with other Armenians.

“The programming, socializing, and education that the ACYOA provides are unparalleled,” George says.

As treasurer, George plays an active role in implementing the ACYOA’s annual fundraising initiatives, which help support popular programs such as leadership conferences, national retreats, and chapter workshops.

Last year the revenue came from ACYOA merchandise sales, a foundation grant, and donations from parishes.

George says that the ACYOA plans to strengthen alumni relationships, host social fundraising events, and brainstorm other ideas for this year’s campaign.

Proud of his Armenian heritage, George says that his involvement in the ACYOA has helped him maintain a connection to his roots while attending college.

A veteran of leadership conferences, summer camps, and other Diocesan programs, George also serves as a sub-deacon and has taught Sunday School in his home parish, St. David Church of Boca Raton, Fla. Last summer, he traveled to New York to intern in the Diocese’s accounting department.

“From the virtues and ethical values learned in church to the characteristic traits of perseverance and hard work stemming from our ancient history, being Armenian has helped me shape a strong moral fiber,” explains George.

By Melanie Quinn (This is the fifth installment of a seven-part series profiling members of the ACYOA Central Council. Melanie Quinn, a senior at the University of New Hampshire, interned this summer in the Diocesan Department of Youth and Education.)

George Macarian serves as treasurer on the ACYOA Central Council.

ACYOA Profile: Olivia Derderian

August 4th, 2011    |    No Comments »

Olivia Derderian, the newly elected programming coordinator of the ACYOA Central Council, anticipates a year of growth for the organization and says she looks forward to getting more young people involved in the life of the Armenian Church.

In her new role, Olivia is in charge of implementing national events by securing venues, planning activities, and performing other responsibilities to ensure the success of ACYOA programs.

“I am trying to help create programs that will inspire younger members to join and continue to be active in the ACYOA,” explains Olivia.

This year the ACYOA will focus on making the transition between the ACYOA Juniors (which is open to young people ages 12 to 18) and the ACYOA Seniors (aimed at college-age members) a bit smoother.

“The ACYOA Central Council has noticed that as ACYOA Juniors graduate high school and move on to college, the interest in the ACYOA slowly fades,” Olivia says, adding that the council hopes to address attrition by developing programs to better integrate younger members.

Olivia herself has been an active ACYOA member since the age of 13, and has attended leadership conferences, chapter workshops, and maintained involvement in the St. Nercess Summer Conferences.

In the summer of 2007, Olivia, who is from the St. Gregory the Enlightener parish in White Plains, N.Y., also participated in the ACYOA Armenia Service Program, traveling with a group of young Armenians to the homeland where she was able to experience first-hand the history and cultural heritage of Armenia.

Developing relationships with other Armenian youth has been a source of enrichment in Olivia’s life, and getting others to experience a similar sense of community is always a goal.

“The ACYOA is like my second family,” Olivia says. “It has always meant a lot to me to be surrounded by other people that care about the Armenian Church as much as I do.”

By Melanie Quinn (This is the fourth installment of a seven-part series profiling members of the ACYOA Central Council. Melanie Quinn, a senior at the University of New Hampshire, is interning this summer in the Diocesan Department of Youth and Education.)

Olivia Derderian receives a certificate from Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, during a leadership conference held at the Diocese last October.

Melanie Panosian Looks Back on a Summer of Learning and Growth

August 4th, 2011    |    No Comments »

Working at the Diocese this summer, I became part of something much greater than simply a 9 to 5 office job.  Not only did I acquire “real-world” work experience, but I realized a deeper connection to my faith and heritage, and in the process learned more about myself and my Armenian identity.

Through the articles I wrote and the videos that I helped produce for the Communications Department, I explored various aspects of Armenian faith and culture.  The topics I worked on ranged from art (for example, the Jerusalem tile-making process), to saint biographies (including figures like St. Gregory and St. Tamar of Mogk), and to Armenian programs and trips (such as the ACYOA internship program at the FAR Children’s Center in Yerevan).

I also had an opportunity to write for the Diocesan eNewsletter on figures like Peter Balakian and Yelena Bonner, review Armenian books for the Diocese’s blog, and write an article about changes in the Sunday School program. In addition, I learned about video editing, including how to arrange video clips in a practical yet aesthetic way, and had an opportunity to record a voiceover for the Diocese’s video on the Annual Assembly held in Boston last spring.

The atmosphere in the offices at the Diocese is a rare, beautiful find.  In the way that Armenian culture is filled with love and family, the entire staff at the Diocese is generous, warm, and caring toward one other.  I spent time with several of my co-workers and from the first day, the other interns and I were accepted into this family.

Each week, we learned Armenian from Gilda Kupelian, the coordinator of Armenian Studies; attended matins service with clergy including Fr. Mardiros Chevian, Fr. Simeon Odabashian, and Deacon Sebouh Oscherician; and participated in Bible study with Nancy Basmajian and Elise Antreassian, among others.

Additionally, throughout the summer, the interns and I visited sites like the Holy Cross Church of Armenia in Washington Heights, NY—the first Armenian Church in Manhattan—the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Armenian khatchkar and gospel on display there, and St. Vartan Camp with Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate.  Participating in these activities, I learned about the history of the Armenian Church, formed deeper biblical and liturgical connections, improved my language skills, and observed cultural elements too.

Conversations over weekly lunches with different clergy and lay people have also brought up many thought-provoking subjects, fueling my curiosity and intensifying my understanding of Armenian Christian ministry, traditions, and culture.

Without hesitation, I can say that I will absolutely miss my time as a Diocesan intern.  It has been an experience I will not forget, and I know in my future I will call upon the lessons I’ve learned and the communication skills I have refined during my experience here this summer.

Melanie Panosian, a junior at Muhlenberg College, works on an article for the Diocesan website.

Summer at the Diocese: Andrea Gumushian’s Perspective

August 3rd, 2011    |    No Comments »

My responsibilities this summer as an intern at the Diocese were twofold. I spent my weeks working for the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center and the office of the executive director.

I had no idea before I arrived at the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center the extent to which the center houses so many important books, journals, newspapers, and artifacts, all of which are integral to understanding the history of the Armenian people and culture.  I helped organize and catalogue recently donated books and had an opportunity to learn more about the center’s history, resources, and rich collection.

In the office of the executive director, a portion of my work focused on this year’s Diocesan theme: “Vocations: the Call to Serve—Ministry of the Faithful.” I compiled the feedback and notes from this year’s Diocesan Assembly, Clergy Conference, and ACYOA General Assembly in order to explore how clergy and lay members understand lay ministry.  It was interesting to find both common themes and individual perspectives emerge from these responses. Based on the feedback, we were able to develop plans for further lay ministry activities in the parishes. I began working on a handbook for the parishes and interviewed clergy about their role in supporting lay ministry.

In addition, our internship program allowed us to partake in matins, Bible study, and Armenian language classes.  It was refreshing to begin each day at St. Vartan Cathedral or with Bible study, and I can easily say I am more motivated than I have ever been to master the Armenian language. During our internship, we also visited St. Vartan Camp, St. Nersess Seminary, and the Holy Cross Church in Washington Heights, NY.  These experiences enriched my time here more than I would have expected.

An additional bonus to the Diocese’s internship program was our involvement in the Armenian General Benevolent Union’s New York Summer Internship Program.  Living with and getting to know 30 other young Armenians from all over the world was absolutely incredible.  We were able to participate in lectures, networking events, and AGBU Young Professional activities.  Some of the young professionals have become our mentors and friends during our time here, and that has added an entirely new and unexpected dimension to our internship.

One of my most memorable experiences was a dinner hosted by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian for the AGBU interns. It was nice to welcome my fellow interns to the place I’ve called home for the past eight weeks and to show them St. Vartan Cathedral. The dinner allowed us to learn more about the Diocese in a warm environment, and to have the opportunity to engage with the Primate.

But perhaps most heartwarming was meeting the dynamic people involved in the day-to-day operations of the Diocese.  Additionally, we have been lucky to meet a number of clergy and lay people from nearby parishes, who took the time to discuss with us an array of topics related to the Armenian Church.

Andrea Gumushian, a senior at Wellesley College, shelves books at the Zohrab Center.

Melanie Quinn Reflects on Her Summer at the Diocese

August 2nd, 2011    |    No Comments »

As my eight-week internship at the Diocese comes to a close, I cannot help but reflect on all the experiences, opportunities, and people I have met this summer. Although two months seems like a long time to be living in NYC and working 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, my time spent here has gone by incredibly fast, and I’m sad this experience has to end.

As a Diocesan intern, I participated in the Armenian General Benevolent Union’s NYSIP program, which provides internships throughout New York City for Armenian youth from all over the world. This summer our fellow AGBU interns came from Lebanon, Armenia, France, Syria, Russia, UK, Saudi Arabia, and of course the United States.

I am so thankful for this aspect of the internship program because it has given me the unique opportunity to connect with Armenians from all around the world. Living together for eight weeks in the NYU dorms, as well as attending cultural and professional events has allowed us to grow together and to learn from one another. I can truly say that I have made special friendships I know will continue even after we all have to return home in a couple of days.

My internship at the Diocese has surprised me in many ways over these two months. Before heading to New York I was reluctant to leave behind friends, family, and home, but I can honestly say I am so glad I did because it has changed me in many ways.

Attending church services, Bible study, and Armenian School every week has strengthened not only my faith as a Christian, but has also brought me closer to my Armenian heritage. I feel closer to my roots and I have a desire to get more involved in my local Armenian community, as well as attend events at a global level.

The Diocese has also taught me what hard work is. Coming in every morning and seeing everyone’s dedication and passion has been an inspiration. The Diocese’s staff works constantly and vigorously in everything they do, and having this as an example has taught me to work hard and to pursue my passions in life.

Working in the Department of Youth and Education has been a challenging but rewarding experience for me. Writing an Advent Calendar, interviewing and writing about the ACYOA Central Council members, and compiling a Sunday School directory has kept me busy. Although each project has had its challenges, they have been challenges I have been able to work through and learn from.

Throughout this summer the Diocese’s interns were also able to meet and have lunch with clergy from all over the East Coast. Talking with them about religion, lay ministry, and our journeys through life has been inspiring in many ways. Listening to each clergyman’s path towards deciding to serve God has shown me that He has a plan for all us, and although the future is uncertain, with His guidance everything will fall into place. Talking with them has been an enriching experience where I have learned more about myself as well as how I can contribute to the life of the Armenian Church.

Everyone I met this summer made an impact on me. I could not have imagined spending my summer any other way. For other young Armenians considering this internship program, I would not hesitate to tell them it will be one of the best summers of their life.

Melanie Quinn, a senior at the University of New Hampshire, at work in the Department of Youth and Education.