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The Economist-ը Հայաստանը ճանաչել է «Տարվա երկիր»

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The Economist-ը Հայաստանը ճանաչել է «Տարվա երկիր»

Բրիտանական հեղինակավոր The Economist պարբերականը «Տարվա երկիր» է ճանաչել Հայաստանը:

«Մենք մրցանակը շնորհում ենք ոչ թե ամենազդեցիկ, ամենահարուստ կամ ամենանրբաճաշակ սնունդն ունեցող ազգին,  այլ այն երկրին, որն առաջընթաց է գրանցել»,- գրել է պարբերականը:

«Ո՞ր երկիրն է անցած 12 ամիսների ընթացքում փոխվել դեպի լավը»,- հարց է նչեցրել  The Economist -ը, ու կարծիք հայտնել, որ դա հենց Հայաստանն է:

Պարբերականը նշել է, որ ընտր

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Իրանի նախագահն Էրդողանի հրավերով կմեկնի Թուրքիա

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Իրանի նախագահն Էրդողանի հրավերով կմեկնի Թուրքիա

Իրանի նախագահ Հասան Ռոհանին Ռեջեփ Թայիփ Էրդողանի պաշտոնական հրավերով դեկտեմբերի 19-ին կմեկնի Թուրքիա։ Երկօրյա այցի ընթացքում Անկարայում Ռոհանիին կուղեկցեն Իրանի քաղաքական և տնտեսական ոլորտի բարձրաստիճան պաշտոնյաները. փոխանցում է ermenihaber-ը:

Թուրքիայում Ռոհանին կմասնակցի եր

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Վարդենիսում առանց քաղաքացիների գիտության, նրանց հաշվառել են նպաստառուների ցանկում ու խոշոր գումար հափշտակել

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Վարդենիսում առանց քաղաքացիների գիտության, նրանց հաշվառել են նպաստառուների ցանկում ու խոշոր գումար հափշտակել

ՀՀ քննչական կոմիտեի Գեղարքունիքի մարզային քննչական վարչությունում քննվող քրեական գործով մեղադրանք է առաջադրվել չորս անձի:

Նախնական քննության տվյալներով՝ Վարդենիսի սոցիալական աջակցության տարածքային գործակալության նախկին և գործող աշխատակիցները 2013-2018 թվականների ընթացքում, հիշյալ տարածքային գործակալության համակարգչային բազայում, առանց քաղաքացիների գիտության, նրանց հաշվառել են ընտանեկան նպաստ համակարգի շահառուների ցանկում, որի հիման վրա նրանց անվամբ ապօրինի ձևակերպվել և յուրաքանչյուր ամիս առերևույթ հափշտակվել են առանձնապես խոշոր չափերի գումարներ:

Ձեռնարկված լայնածավալ քննչական և դատավարական գործողությունների արդյունքում պարզվել են հանցավոր այլ դրսևորումներ ևս: Մասնավորապես՝ նախաքննության ընթացքում տվյալներ են ձեռք բերվել նաև «Հայփոստ» ՓԲ ընկերության աշխատակիցների  մասնակցության վերաբերյալ:

Քննությամբ ձեռք բերված փաստական տվյալների համաձայն՝ «Հայփոստ» ՓԲ ընկերության երկու աշխատակիցներ ստորագրել են Վարդենիս

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Weekly Staff Picks: Our Holiday Small-Business Gift Guide

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Weekly Staff Picks: Our Holiday Small-Business Gift Guide

We hope these gift suggestions from Armenia and the Diaspora will satisfy someone on your list this holiday season, right up through Armenian Christmas on January 6, 2019.  This list has not been sponsored or solicited by the businesses or individuals mentioned. They represent the views of the Armenian Weekly staff members recommending them in earnest.

 

Hand Stamped Jewelry by Hope and Celebrate

Price: $10-$126

Mary Sahagian is a spirited and talented Los Angeles-based jewelry designer and a busy mother of two. During her second pregnancy in 2014, she was inspired to create Hope & Celebrate, a shop on Etsy that features minimal, delicate hand-stamped pieces. For the past four years, Sahagian has been preserving special dates and names on sterling silver and gold-filled bars and pendants for thousands of customers including our assistant editor Leeza Arakelian, who celebrated the birth of her son Alik in 2016 with Sahagian’s famously classic bar necklace. Sahagian’s collection now includes lucky eye necklaces, bracelets, earrings and birthstones. And she never misses an opportunity to express her creativity. Her packaging is simply darling (think washi tape) and ready for gifting to friends and loved ones in simple, stamped linen keepsake bags.

 

The Philosophy of Kim Kierkegaardashian

Price: $16

You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the Twitter feed of Kim Kierkegaardashian (@KimKierkegaard), an account which pairs the somber musings of Danish existential philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, with the pithy, superficial tweets of the world’s most controversial Armenian, Kim Kardashian. @KimKierkegaard enjoys cult-like following—nearly a quarter million strong—since the account was launched in 2012 by an anonymous author. The new book My Beautiful Despair: The Philosophy of Kim Kierkegardashian, published by Touchstone, takes this glorious persona to the next level—immortalizing it in print. My Beautiful Despair is a collection of some of @KimKierkegaard’s most superb tweets, each with an accompanying illustration. The result is a wonderfully modern satire, which bridges the profound with the profoundly trivial (though which is which is left up to the reader to decide). Our editor, Karine Vann, recommends this little book as the perfect stocking stuffer for any literary-minded friends and relatives (Armenian and non-Armenian alike) known for taking themselves a little too seriously—we’re talking those whose “look is never complete without indescribable suffering.”

 

Minimalist Ring from 47 Jewellery

Price: 25,000 AMD (~$50)

You can tell a lot about the developmental state of a nation by its art and craftsmanship. In the past five years, Yerevan has become a hub for young designers, musicians and artists to emerge, flourish and move beyond the borders of the republic. Their strength and success is in their meticulous attention to design and quality. 47 Jewellery is one of these leading fashion companies native to Yerevan. Its founder is designer Irene Isahakian, a former journalist and PR manager. “It was very difficult for a minimalistic brand to survive in Armenia. There was no demand,” said Isahakian about the origins of the brand. “Initially we were creating only what my friends or I would wear.” Years later, 47 Jewellery continues growing and gaining popularity. The Weekly’s design apprentice, Masha Keryan, recommends gifting one of Isahakian’s rings, which she says are “fabulous” and sure to attract many compliments.

 

Calendula Cleanser from Nairian

Price: $36

Of course, this list would not be complete without a pinch of Armenian nepotism. Our editor discovered Nairian, Armenia’s first all-natural cosmetics brand, through her husband, whose parents, Ara and Anahit Markosian, started it from scratch back in 2012. The Weekly’s office has benefited from this fortuitous relationship—the heavenly fragrances of Armenian oordz (thyme) or pomegranates waft occasionally through our offices in the form of soaps and oils. Karine, by now a veteran patron of Nairian, strongly recommends their calendula-infused cleanser, which both cleanses and moisturizes skin. It contains sunflower seed oil for its restorative effects, citrus peel oil for its strong antibacterial properties, and of course, calendula extract harvested from flowers grown on Nairian’s farm in the village of Aragyugh. And the smell—oh the smell! It is natural and soothing, like the Armenian plants and herbs it is made of in small batches. But be warned: you’ll never be able to use a mass-produced cleanser again.

 

A Rareform Summit Backpack

Price: $88

You may have encountered these Diasporan brothers Alec and Aric Avedissian on the popular reality television series Shark Tank, where they appeared in 2017, pitching their dream idea—repurposing old billboards into a trendy line of backpacks and surf bags—to a group of wealthy investors. While the show helped them build their brand, the Avedissian brothers had been pursuing this idea long before. Their business, Rareform, started in 2012 and has grown from a two-person operation in the attic above an old gym to six people, an office and a warehouse in Santa Monica, California. We were initially sold on their product because of its: A) environmental undertones—their business thrives on recycling materials which would otherwise take up space in a landfill; and B) Diasporan connections—like their product, our newspaper is also born out of the Armenian Diaspora in the U.S. But story aside, as a product, Rareform’s bags are as versatile as they are durable (albeit a bit on the pricier side). With their solid form and edgy designs, these bags are great for either a day trip into nature or a hard day’s work at the office.

And last but not least…

 

A Subscription to the Armenian Weekly and Hairenik Weekly

Price: $100 for the year (i.e. a steal)

A shameless promotional stab, perhaps, but an important one.

The digital era has transformed the way we consume news. In some senses, journalism has been invigorated by this shift. Major U.S. papers have expanded and intensified their coverage to meet the needs of a wider circuit of readers. But not everyone has benefited from the shift. Community newspapers have been valuable alternative news sources in this country, historically supplementing the coverage that larger papers provide. And today, they are disintegrating across the United States at an alarming rate. News that is truly local—authored by the members of the community itself—is rendered virtually obsolete. Yet as other community papers are closing their doors, our scrappy, little newspaper chugs onward. This is an incredible achievement—a phenomenon, really. And not only are we surviving, but we’re growing. In these last few months, we’ve introduced another editor, a new design apprentice, multiple columnists and an intern from Boston University. We want to continue improving our coverage of our community, bringing you more stories you love, like our feature on a local business making authentic Armenian madzoon; our local story about Watertown’s famous annual bazaar at St. Stephen’s Church; or more recently, our watchdog coverage of a Lexington library’s new Turkish collection, which explained the situation from multiple angles.

We are intent on reporting the news that matters most to you that you can’t get anywhere else. But journalism is a difficult and fiercely competitive industry and it’s also important to us, as a community newspaper, to ensure opportunities for aspiring, young, Armenian journalists, as having experience at a local level is crucial in the early stages of one’s career. For decades, this newspaper has functioned as a stepping stone for young Armenians to get their foot in the door. With a donation, you can help us continue to provide this community service. Legitimate coverage of the communities that shape us is critical to a healthy society. That there isn’t more of it is a cause for deep concern. So share the voice of the Armenian Diaspora this holiday season while supporting your community newspapers including the Hairenik, our Armenian-language counterpart by purchasing a print subscription or making a gift of donation to help keep the Armenian story in America alive and thriving.

The post Weekly Staff Picks: Our Holiday Small-Business Gift Guide appeared first on The Armenian Weekly.

Murder Near Russian Military Base Tests Yerevan-Moscow Bond

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Murder Near Russian Military Base Tests Yerevan-Moscow Bond
Julieta Ghukasian (Photo credit: RFE/RL)

GYUMRI—Authorities in Armenia have confirmed the arrest of a yet unnamed Russian soldier for the brutal murder of an Armenian woman.

The 23 year-old serviceman allegedly accosted 57 year-old Julieta Ghukasyan on the morning of December 2nd. Ghukasyan was on her way to work; she was a street sweeper. According to the autopsy report, she was beaten severely. She succumbed to her wounds later that day. The accused Russian contract soldier was arrested eight days later on December 10th. His whereabouts were previously unknown, but he was believed to be on the Russian military base.

Ghukasyan’s daughter Anahit told reporters, “I wish I was blind when I saw my mother’s swollen face.” She was working the same job but on a different street; she did not witness the murder of her mother.

Artur Sakunts from the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly is representing the Ghukasyan family. Sakunts told reporters that the accused soldier has been charged under Article 14, Part 2, Article 112 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia and faces up to 10 years in prison.

The Russian Embassy in Yerevan initially dismissed reports of the murder being committed by a member of the Russian Armed Forces. The embassy later issued a statement urging not to politicize the incident.

Entrance to Russian 102nd Military Base, Gyumri (Photo: Raffi Elliott)

This is the third deadly incident involving military personnel from the Russian 102nd Military Base in Gyumri. In 1999, two Russian soldiers opened fire in a central market with automatic weapons, killing two. They were later extradited to Russia and freed. Most recently in 2015, Valery Permyakov, a contract soldier from Siberia, murdered an entire family of seven, including two toddlers. The murder and the ensuing diplomatic incident caused major unrest across the country. Riots broke out in Gyumri and Yerevan when the Armenian prosecutor general announced his agreement to try Permyakov in a Russian military court, despite a standing bilateral agreement giving Armenia jurisdiction on the matter.

The Russian Defence Ministry has faced criticism for not properly vetting contract soldiers before international deployments.

The murder threatens to further strain relations between Armenia and its traditional ally Russia. Ever since the Velvet Revolution brought Nikol Pashinyan’s Civil Contract to power, there has been an air of uncertainty between Moscow and Yerevan. The Kremlin and Pashinyan’s critics have accused him of being “pro-western” in the past. However, as Prime Minister, Pashinyan has been careful in his dealings with Russia.

Last week, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov announced a planned agreement committing Armenia to ban the presence of foreign military personnel within its borders. This restriction presumably exempts the 102nd military base.

So far, no motive has been announced in the Gyumri murder, but the suspect is scheduled to stand trial next week.

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Raffi Elliott

Weekly Columnist & Armenia Correspondent

Raffi Elliott is a Canadian-born entrepreneur and occasional journalist who likes to ramble on about socioeconomic and political issues in Armenia. He lives in Yerevan with his family. He also holds a masters degree in International Relations.

The post Murder Near Russian Military Base Tests Yerevan-Moscow Bond appeared first on The Armenian Weekly.

Job Opportunity: AYF Seeking 2019 AYF Internship Director

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Job Opportunity: AYF Seeking 2019 AYF Internship Director

The Armenian Youth Federation Youth Organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (AYF-YOARF) Eastern United States is seeking an able, qualified, and driven Director for the 2019 AYF Internship in Armenia program that will take place June 17 to August 23. Interns will be arriving starting June 14. The Director must be in Yerevan prior to their arrival for set up. Interested applicants for the position should fluently speak Armenian and ideally have spent a substantial time in Yerevan and be accustomed to the local lifestyle in Armenia.

While the position is not a paid one, the travel to and from Armenia for the Director is covered by the AYF-YOARF, along with housing during the Internship. Applicants must know that this position requires great responsibility such as coordinating daily activities and excursions for the interns outside of their respective jobs. It is also required for the Director to live with the interns over the two-month duration of the program.

Qualifications:

  • Must speak Armenian fluently;
  • Must be a strong and quick communicator and be easily accessible via technology;
  • Must have spent significant time in Armenia;
  • Must be comfortable leading a small group of college-age students for two months;
  • Must be at least 21 years of age.

Requirements:

  • With assistance from the Internship Council:

    • Use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and word of mouth (phone calls, emails, etc.) to promote the internship;
    • Plan and execute excursions (typically outside of Yerevan) for the weekends;
    • Find appropriate jobs and place interns in their chosen field of study;
    • Arrange house/apartment in Yerevan for the interns, along with handling communication with landlord (rent, utilities, etc.);
    • Communicate with the ARF Bureau Office of Youth Affairs in Armenia, local Armenian Relief Society (ARS) office, local Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), and arrange trips to these offices for the interns;
    • Facilitate introductions to other youth in Armenia including: AYF Armenia, AYF Western Region Youth Corps, AYF Canada Youth Corps, AYF Internship in Artsakh, AGBU interns and Birthright/Armenian Volunteer Corps;
    • Plan and execute an educational program as well as a community service project for interns;
    • Ensure interns are working 30 hours/week, attending internship programs and excursions;
    • Facilitate interns’ blogging and collaborate with AYF PR committee;
    • Send periodic updates to the Central Internship Council;
    • Write a comprehensive report after the program’s completion to share with Central Executive;
    • Give presentations to local communities/AYF chapters after the program’s completion and work with interns to do the same

Interested applicants should apply here. All applications must be submitted no later than March 1, 2019.

Please forward any questions you may have about the job description, the internship program, or the AYF-YOARF to internship@ayf.org.

 

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Founded in 1933, The Armenian Youth Federation is an international, non-profit, youth organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). The AYF-YOARF Eastern United States stands on five pillars that guide its central activities and initiatives: Educational, Hai Tahd, Social, Athletic and Cultural. The AYF also promotes a fraternal attitude of respect for ideas and individuals amongst its membership. Unity and cooperation are essential traits that allow members of the organization to work together to realize the AYF’s objectives.

The post Job Opportunity: AYF Seeking 2019 AYF Internship Director appeared first on The Armenian Weekly.

The Genesis and Early Development of the Armenian Missionary Association of America

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The Genesis and Early Development of the Armenian Missionary Association of America

This volume is a timely celebration of the Centennial of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), authored by a uniquely qualified church historian, minister and theologian.

Reverend Vahan Tootikian is a teacher of the Armenian Evangelical community worldwide. He has worked diligently to have a complete survey of the birth and maturation of the AMAA. As he puts it in his concluding paragraphs, this is not only a “retrospective” look at the history of the AMAA, but also an “introspective” study of the lessons we learn from that history, as well as the “prospective” direction of the AMAA within the larger context of the hopes and aspirations of the entire Armenian community in America and abroad.

This study also covers, in part, a historical survey of the Armenian Evangelical Church (AEU). Dr. Tootikian rightly highlights the dictum, that the church cannot be devoid of mission and, conversely, mission without the church cannot survive. Both are intertwined for the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and service in his name. The AMAA was born in the arms of the AEU which nursed it, organized it, and structured its raison d’etre.

A century ago, Armenians were being decimated by the Genocide. Providentially the pain and suffering they experienced became the birth pangs of the Church to bring forth the AMAA, not because of the Genocide but in spite of it. The AMAA was the response of the Armenian Christianity to the atrocities of an evil empire.

This book is rather small in size and few in pages, but it is encyclopedic in portraying the lives and services of dedicated lay persons as well as pastors. Through the AMAA, they were able to reach out to a bereaved community and share the good news of Christ by word and deed.

Armenians worldwide owe a word of gratitude to Dr. Tootikian for introducing the calling of the AMAA to the celebrants of the next bicentennial.

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Rev. Dr. Peter Doghramji

Rev. Dr. Peter Doghramji

Rev. Dr. Peter Doghramji is an Armenian Evangelical theologian and former President of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America.

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Help Armenia’s Women’s Support Center Continue to Provide Shelter to Women and Children

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Help Armenia’s Women’s Support Center Continue to Provide Shelter to Women and Children
Karine, a beneficiary of the Women’s Support Center in Armenia. (Photo courtesy of WSC)

Domestic violence is arguably one of the most pressing social issues facing Armenia today. It is estimated that one in four women in Armenia are subjected to abuse in their lifetimes. Too often, victims who decide to speak out are simply told that it was their fault and are dissuaded by their families, peers, and even law enforcement officials from documenting abuse. For this reason, the problem remains a silent epidemic – one that is seldom discussed outside of the home until a woman’s life is in severe danger.

Alarmingly, the number of domestic violence homicides has sharply increased this year, with at least nine women killed in the first half of 2018 alone. A better functioning criminal justice system, a dismantling of the culture of shame that surrounds domestic abuse, and greater shelter assistance could have prevented these deaths and the daily suffering of thousands across the country.

Though challenges remain, the Armenian government has initiated steps to address domestic violence at a national level, adopting national programs and action plans and passing a law earlier this year. With growing public pressure to tackle this epidemic, the state continues to hand off responsibilities to local women’s organizations who now help to shape domestic violence policy in Armenia. Among these groups, the Women’s Support Center (WSC), based in Yerevan, is considered the most established and professional center dealing with victims in Armenia.

Currently, the WSC is the only organization in Armenia that offers shelter to victims fleeing abuse in addition to comprehensive services, including walk-in and hotline services, counseling, trial defense, group sessions and workshops, and an economic empowerment program. For WSC’s beneficiaries like Karine (pictured above), these services are truly lifesaving and give them the opportunity to reintegrate into society and live free of abuse.

Shortly after the adoption of the domestic violence law in 2018, there was a sharp rise in reporting and more women seeking refuge, as women have begun to feel that the state will protect them in situations of abuse. However, there remain only a handful of shelter spaces in the whole country. To meet this growing demand, the WSC is embarking on a long-term partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs, which is providing them with a three story building outside of Yerevan to convert into a domestic violence shelter that will accommodate 15 women and 40 children at any given time. This type of public private partnership between the Armenian government and a women’s organization is unprecedented. The All Armenia Fund has also committed to this mission and will help with the costs of renovating and refurbishing the new safe house. However, with an estimated $168,000 needed to convert the space into a shelter, the WSC is still in need of support.

This holiday season, the WSC has launched a crowd-funding campaign to secure donations for the new shelter and ensure that beneficiaries have a proper safe space in which to rehabilitate as they access services. All contributions will go directly to serving numerous women and children in Armenia who desperately seek to work through trauma and rebuild their lives. Donate today to make a difference in the lives of women and children across Armenia.

Established in 2010, the WSC is dedicated to its mission of combating domestic abuse through the protection, rehabilitation, and empowerment of survivors and changing the legal, educational, and social conditions that contribute to a culture of silence surrounding domestic abuse. They uphold a zero tolerance policy for violence against women and seek to create an environment where women and girls are protected, defended, and nurtured.

 

This article is a press release submitted to the Armenian Weekly and has been published to our community news section as a courtesy. If your organization has news it would like to submit to the paper for consideration, please email us at editor@armenianweekly.com. Please note that this service is reserved for organizations that engage in not-for-profit or humanitarian work in the Armenian community. Publication is not guaranteed.

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Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles written and submitted by members of the community, which make up our community bulletin board.

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Kalavan: Once an Obscure Village in Armenia, Now Gaining International Fame

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Kalavan: Once an Obscure Village in Armenia, Now Gaining International Fame

Far away in the mountains of the Gegharkunik Province of Armenia near Lake Sevan, there’s an insignificant and inaccessible village known as Kalavan. Its population of 108 inhabitants are mostly survivors from Sumgait, Azerbaijan who resettled to Kalavan in the early 1990’s.

Reversing the Trend and Revitalizing the Village

I was planning a trip earlier this month to Armenia and allocated three days to visit Kalavan to understand the excitement about this village. The declining village population is a major challenge in Kalavan and other villages in Armenia. Some countries have been successful in reversing the trend by providing various incentives, such as subsidized housing to attract young families to relocate to the villages. I don’t believe there are such programs in Armenia, however Kalavan could serve as an excellent case study of how a village, with their own resources, could reverse the trend and set an example.

One man, Robert Ghukasyan, successfully placed Kalavan on the worldwide archaeological and eco-touristic destination lists. Rubo, as the villagers call him, grew up and earned his primary education in Kalavan and later obtained an archaeology degree and worked overseas in various countries. In 2013, he moved back to Kalavan to pursue his dream of revitalizing a dying and disappearing village.

Three elements helped Robert in his mission. First, the forests around Kalavan have several archaeological sites with both human and animal bones that date back some 5,000 years. Second, the mountains and forests provide magnificent hiking and trekking options. Third, Kalavan is an unspoiled village without even a single retail store, reminiscent of the forgone era.

Bed and Breakfast and Home-stays

A converted B&B equipped with solar water heaters and guest rooms on the ground floor

With Robert’s guidance, archaeologists from Germany and Israel started visiting Kalavan for extended stays and local digs. This triggered the idea of providing visitors with basic bed and breakfast facilities and encouraged the building of extended restrooms attached to homes. The community also installed solar water heaters to provide hot water for overnight guests. Robert and the villagers have been adamant in maintaining the existing authentic village character while also offering basic comforts; the Kalavan community is not interested in building modern and extended-stay hotels.

The traffic generated by visitors for scientific and archaeological projects has generated such enthusiasm that there are currently no houses for sale in Kalavan. Dilapidated houses that you could have previously purchased for a mere $1,000 are currently worth over $20,000. Of the 31 homes in the village, eight offer B&B options with a total capacity of 40 guests. This has provided an economic stimulus to the villagers and has prompted the modification of two additional houses to ultimately house 60 guests by the summer of 2019.

You should be warned that there are no local grocery stores, bakeries or any retail stores in Kalavan. All supplies must be sourced from nearby towns, which is how the villagers would like to keep it.

The village school and the remains of the old Soviet-era House of Culture

The blue Volga in front of Kalavan “House of Culture”
One of five classrooms at the Kalavan school that requires repairs

The village school was clean, but I did notice the classroom desks date back to the Soviet times. The walls were also showing signs of humidity and decay. Two of the seven classrooms were recently renovated and waterproofed, but the remaining five rooms needed new windows and weatherproofing. There are currently 19 students enrolled; the principal was excited to share that there were eight births in the village last year, which means eight additional students in a few short years.

Adjacent to the school is the ruins of the House of Culture and the blue Volga, other reminders of a forgone era.

“Time Land Foundation” and the New Scientific Center

Kalavan Time Land Foundation’s New Scientific & Community Center

The most significant and notable achievement for Robert and Kalavan is the establishment of the non-profit “Time Land Foundation” and its two-story, 250 square meters (2,700 sq. ft.) new building which will serve as a scientific and research center for visiting scientists. It will also house a library and cultural and community center for local youth. The $150,000 project is being funded by USAID, UNDP and private donors.

“Our kids don’t have to travel to Yerevan or other major hubs to be able to experience modern technologies,” Robert explains. He believes in providing local youth with a state-of-the-art learning facility which will help them stay attached to the village and not rush to relocate to Yerevan at their earliest opportunity.

Continuing Needs for the Village

Students at Kalavan School

Kalavan still needs help and support to continue with its initiatives to stabilize the village. The school needs repairs to make it a safe environment for both students and teachers, and the town has adamantly requested for aid from the provincial government to repair the seven-kilometer dirt road connecting the village to the main road.

A four by four vehicle is the best mode of transportation on the seven-kilometer dirt road. It’s about a 40-minute ride. The villagers have requested road repairs by compacting gravel, which should reduce the travel time by half. With a $60,000 excavator or backhoe the villagers would be able to repair and maintain the dirt road, additionally provide basic irrigation channels for local farms and build hiking and biking trails around the village.

Kalavan is a truly unique town with ambition and opportunity. I encourage all to visit the village in the mountains of Lake Sevan to experience the excitement and growing projects. The new Scientific Center back-dropped with breathtaking views provides an unforgettable experience.

Author information

Adroushan Andy Armenian

Adroushan Andy Armenian

Adroushan Andy Armenian was born and raised in Lebanon. He left Lebanon in 1976 to continue his university education in Boston, Massachusetts. After graduation, he joined Procter & Gamble Corporation holding several sales and marketing positions in the Middle East and Gulf countries as well as the US, UK, Switzerland and Russia. Armenian now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2015, Armenian was appointed Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Las Vegas.

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Reclaiming Herstory: Ashkhen Hovakimian, the Famed Horticulturist

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Reclaiming Herstory: Ashkhen Hovakimian, the Famed Horticulturist

It is sad to think that there are so many brilliant Armenian women we will never know about. So many have been left out of our male-dominated history. For instance, I’m sure Armenian women were active and creating art during the time period covered in the Armenia! exhibit currently on display at The Met, but in spite of this, the exhibit features not a single female artist. So who writes Armenian history and why are women so absent?

Every Armenian woman’s herstory has value, but unless they were a queen, extremely wealthy, or married to a famous man, they have not yet been given the proper attention by historians. Fortunately now, thanks to the Internet, we can access the herstories of Armenians from all social classes and professions—environmental activists, healers, scientists, judges, young punk artists and many more.

This is a very good thing, because in my entire public school education in the U.S., I never encountered a single Armenian name. There were no Armenian women role models in the Women’s Studies programs I was involved with. I felt invisible and disconnected. I was always searching for a name I could connect to in my texts. First, I looked for names ending in -ian, but I soon found that this was not always an effective method, as many Armenian names have been assimilated and changed, once they enter a foreign situation.

With all this in mind, preserving Armenian names soon became very important to me and I was consumed by the mission to reclaim them, even in the throes of war. In 1992, while taking cover in an underground bomb shelter in Stepanakert as Azeri bombs dropped outside, I started looking through a book of Armenian names that I had brought and helping Artsakh-Armenian citizens slough off the colonized names they had been assigned at birth—names like Hamlet, Vladimir and Svetlana—and help them rename themselves with indigenous names like Hayk, Vrej and Salpi. During this time, I also made sure to document the names and herstories of the Artsakh women soldiers I was with.

To this day, I remain passionate about reclaiming Armenian names and visibility for Armenian women’s herstories. In fact, there is one untold herstory I would like to share today.

The Vanda Miss Joaquim, a natural orchid hybrid between Vanda teres and Vanda hookeriana, was first discovered in the garden of Agnes Joaquim in Singapore in 1893. On April 15, 1981 it was declared Singapore’s national flower. (Photo: Calvin Teo/Wikimedia)

One day, as I was researching Armenians in Singapore for a poetry group, I came across the inspiring story of Ashkhen Hovakimian. Though there is an entry in Wikipedia about her, no Armenian I knew had ever heard of her. She was born in Singapore in 1854 and had, like me, New Julfa ancestry. An avid horticulturist, she conducted many scientific experiments that resulted in the creation of the world’s first hybrid orchid in 1893. Her orchid helped create the cut flower industry in Singapore. Cutting from her one original plant resulted in millions of flowers. In 1981, her beloved flower was chosen as the national flower of Singapore and images of it can be found on coins, emblems, paintings, clothes, tattoos, souvenirs, buildings and gold bars. It’s even on a Central African Stamp. Her family has never received any compensation from the hundreds of businesses profiting off the image of her flower.

Hovakimian’s hard work as a successful pioneer horticulturist was often cast in doubt by many men who perpetuated lies about her finding this flower. They just couldn’t believe that a woman found this flower in her garden. Later, the historian Nadia Wright and Hovakimian’s great-niece Linda Locke uncovered evidence from Henry Ridley, director of the Singapore Botanical Gardens, who recorded her crossbreeding Burmese and Malayan orchids. Following this discovery, she was finally credited for her contribution to horticulture.

She died of cancer at the age of 45 and was buried in the Garden of Memories at the Singapore St. Gregory Armenian Church. In 2015, she was inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame. Yet despite her central role in their history, many Singaporeans don’t even know she is Armenian, as her orchid is listed under her anglicized name, Agnes Joaquim, as under British colonialism (which resulted in the oppression of many people), many Armenians took British names. The official listing for the flower is Vanda Miss Agnes Joaquim.

I wrote the following poem to encourage people to change the name of her famous orchid from Vanda Miss Agnes Joaquim to Vanda Miss Ashkhen Hovakimian to value and respect her indigenous roots.

Vanda Miss Ashkhen Hovakimian

Moist sun-air sweet purple
Pink white outstretched petals
Bright yellow column cap

Created by descendants of
Garden loving Julfa Armenians
Exiled by Shah Abbas

They became
Hybrid Armenian Persians
Flung across the Silk Route

Armenian Ashkhen Hovakimian
Transplanted in fecund soil of Singapore
Created first hybrid orchid.

But, Doubters said “A Woman Couldn’t Do This!
She must have found it
Bending her reality into mudslides!”

Yet, with the scent of vindication
Cuttings from her hardy plant
Flung millions worldwide
Stamps of Central Republic of Africa
Bear her global blossoms simultaneously
Nourished by sun and moonlight
Her indigenous roots push up beyond
Her colonial name Vanda Miss Agnes Joaquim
To rename her famous orchid
Vanda Miss Ashkhen Hovakimian.

Her flower rises up between
Fiery orange crimson lips
Fans down to brilliant
Rose violet tongue

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Anoush Ter Taulian

Weekly Columnist

Anoush Ter Taulian is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley. In 1992, she decided to relocate to Artsakh where she volunteered in the liberation struggle alongside Monte Melkonian. She has depicted the Armenian struggle for freedom in poetry, paintings, videos, and radio. A lifelong activist speaking in schools, churches, and at anti-racism conferences, Anoush continues to bring up current attacks on Artsakh at indigenous, women’s, and political conferences.

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