By: Lala Mamigonian
In November 2010, students from sixteen high schools in the Greater Los Angeles area were invited to participate in the second essay contest organized by the “Visit Armenia, It Is Beautiful” project. The topic of the essay was again “Why I want to visit Armenia”.
This essay contest was intended not only to get young Armenians, living in the Diaspora, to show interest in visiting Armenia, but also allowing them an opportunity to learn, understand, recognize, acknowledge and awaken their identity and direct connection to their motherland, Armenia. The essays could be written in English or Armenian, permitting the participants to freely express their thoughts, feelings and reasons why a visit to Armenia is important. Specifics of the rules and regulations of the essay contest were provided to all participants. The effort to appeal to our younger generation is significant in arousing and encouraging awareness of the importance of visiting Armenia, thus strengthening the urge to visit, transforming this urge to a goal, recognizing and accomplishing the goal, and ultimately creating a lifelong relationship with their motherland, Armenia.
About seventy guests attended the award ceremony, which was open to the public. It took place at 7:00 p.m., on Thursday, April 28, 2011, at the “Raffi” Cultural Association in Hollywood. Present were members of the local media, school principals and teachers, parents, students and supporters of VAIIB.
Mr. Mampre Pomakian Esq., Emcee of the evening, praised the determination and efforts of the “Visit Armenia It Is Beautiful” project for the past twelve years. He spoke about its’ mission, which is to spread the word that Armenia is a beautiful country welcoming everyone to visit. He praised the slogan /logo and website, and the various annual events it organizes, stimulating the perception and need in the Diaspora for all Armenians to take an active role, in a unified campaign, promoting tourism to Armenia.
Mr. Pomakian revealed, for the first time, the identity of the five Judges to the contestant’s and the guests:
Mr. Kevork Bedikian – Educator, Principal, Author of several books, reporter and Journalist;
Mrs. Annie Kertenian – Business owner, well travelled including to Armenia, experienced in proof reading movie scripts and documentaries;
Mr. Saro Nazarian – Educator and Journalist with experience in International Journalism;
Mrs. Eileen Keusseyan Esq., – Attorney at Law, President of PTO’s and Church organizations, as well as very active in several charitable organizations;
Mr. Zaven Khanjian – Community leader with heavy travel experience, including Armenia and Western Armenia, and author of several articles and books;
Alternate Judges: Ms. Tamar Baronian – Graduate of UCLA, and UWLA School of Law and well travelled including Armenia.
Ms. Lisa Boyadjian – Legal assistant, Armenian Bar Association Administrative Assistant, Administrator and Assistant Editor of the VisitArmenia.org website, with heavy travel experience, including Armenia.
Ara Boyadjian, founder of the “VISIT ARMENIA, IT IS BEAUTIFUL” (“VAIIB”) campaign project, thanked the media and press for covering the VAIIB events and utilizing the campaign’s slogan and logo, and the sponsors of the award ceremony which included
Mr. and Mrs. Yeprem and Varsenig Baghboudarian, Mr. and Mrs. Nazareth and Alice Chakrian, Mr. Ara Kassabian, CPA., Dr. and Mrs. Garo and Galia Kassabian,Mr. and Mrs. Tony and Eileen Keusseyan, Mr. and Mrs. Viken and Vartouhi Tavoukjian,
Shahe and Sahag Melelian of Arka Photography in Hollywood
for their contributions, the “Raffi” Cultural Association for hosting the evening’s event,
Armen Hovannisian Esq., Stepan Partamian/Armenian Art Fund , Kevork Bedikian, Zaven Khanjian, Nahabed Melkonian, Nechan Tchaghatzbanian, Seta Velasquez and Yerevan Magazine for donating books and CD’s as gifts.
Mr. Boyadjian provided statistical information regarding the essay contest; 65 students registered collectively from 11 high schools, public and private Armenian.
43 registrants entered their essays into the contest, of which 23 wrote in English and 20 were written in the Armenian language. There were 20 contestants from AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School in Pasadena, 8 from Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School in Hollywood, 6 from Ferrahian High School in Encino, 3 from AGBU- MDS in Canoga Park, 2 from Clark Magnet High in La Crescenta, and one contestant each from Burbank High School, Glendale High School, John Burroughs High school in Burbank and Ulysses Grant High School.
Mr. Boyadjian then invited Mrs. Eileen Keusseyan to the podium who read a message from Mrs. Lena Melkonian, Board member and editor of VisitArmenia.org , whose moving and inspirational words congratulated every participating student and encouraged everyone to visit Armenia.
Next Savannah Minassian, 10 years old, grand-daughter of Mr. Boyadjian, read a heart warming message, which she had authored herself, thanking everyone for attending, and continued to say, “even though 3 essays are winning the top prizes tonight all of the participants are winners to me. I hope next time there are more participants from schools all over Southern California.” She continued “ I am in the fourth grade and I have been to Armenia, twice and hearing why other people want to go to Armenia makes me want to go back to Armenia and stay there. I think anyone who wants to go to Armenia should have at least one chance to go:” she concluded her thoughts with the slogan “Visit Armenia, It Is Beautiful”. One could see tears in some of the audience’s eyes, hearing this little girl’s heartfelt speech…
All five judges were present at the award ceremony and each expressed congratulatory remarks to the VAIIB project for this remarkable and important event. The judges were impressed by the essays and conveyed their opinions and praises on what the contestants had communicated in their essays.
Following the Judges’ comments, the winners were announced. The top three winners received monetary awards, books, CD’s, one year subscriptions to various Armenian publications, donated by USA Armenian Weekly, Asbarez, and Yerevan Magazine.
The First Place winner was Tigran Tufenkchyan of John Burroughs High School in Burbank, whose essay was written in English.
The Second Place winner was Talar Habeshian of AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School. Her essay written in Armenian,
Third Place went to Shant Artenian of Rose and Alex Pilibos High School, written in English.
Eight Honorary Mention certificates and gifts were awarded to
Katrina Karaboghosian from AGBU MDS High School,
Delilah Shahbazian from AGBU MDS High School,
Ari Kazanjian AGBU V.T.Manoukian High School,
Kathrine Tabakian from AGBU V.T.Manoukian High School,
Sevan Hovannisian from Ferrahian High School,
Kristine Azadian, from Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School
Khajag Bornazyan, from Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School
Vivian Kasparian, from Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School
The evening concluded with Mr. Mampre Pomakian inviting everyone to share a cake which was presented to Ara Boyadjian in congratulating his fiftieth anniversary in the travel and tourism industry and thanking him again for sharing his knowledge and expertise in helping tourism grow in Armenia.
The essay contest participants are the future travelers and Ambassadors of Good Will of Armenia and will help facilitate the success of the “Visit Armenia, It Is Beautiful” campaign project in its mission and commitment to promote tourism to Armenia, thus stimulating and boosting the country’s economy.
Mr. Boyadjian, commented at the end of the evening that “The essays will soon be available on the “VisitArmenia.org” website. And as always, with his consent, the “VISIT ARMENIA, IT IS BEAUTIFUL” slogan/logo is available and encouraged for use by all Armenians, organizations, schools, churches, media and publications.
Strengthening the desire to visit Armenia
John Burroughs High School celebrated the achievements of its 2011 Senior Class on May 18, 2011, at 7:00 PM in the school’s gymnasium in Burbank, California.
Emilio Urioste Jr., Principal JBHS Administration, headed the ceremony, following the Pledge of Allegiance by Taylor Van Den Berg, the Senior Class President. Over one thousand students, family, faculty, educators, city officials, and guests were in attendance, including Ted Bunch, President and Debbie Kukta, Vice President, of the Burbank Board of Education, as well as Dr. Stan Carrizosa, Superintendent.
Scholarships and awards from a variety of donors for scholastic, civic, sports and art excellence were presented including the Burbank Police Officers Association Matthew Pavelka Memorial Scholarship, Burbank Teachers Association, California State PTA Scholarship, UCLA Alumni Scholarship, USC Alumni Scholarship and USC Trustee Scholarship, the “Visit Armenia, It is Beautiful” award and others. Special Honors for CSF Sealbearers, President’s Award and 100 Service Learning Hours awards were also presented.
Ara Boyadjian, Tigran Tufenkchyan, Emilio Urioste Jr. Principal JBHS
The “Visit Armenia, It Is Beautiful” scholarship and award presented by Ara Boyadjian recognized Tigran Tufenkchyan, a senior at Burroughs, as the First Place winner of its 2011 essay contest entitled “Why I want to visit Armenia”. Essays could be written in Armenian or English, with specific guidelines to be followed. Tufenchyan, born in America, will be visiting Armenia for the first time this summer, and intends to volunteer with ACYO (Armenian Christian Youth Organization) to build a home for a widowed villager and her child and repair the community center at the village Bert in Davoush province.
There was participation by eleven high school students of public high schools and Armenian private schools in the Los Angeles area. For a second time, an Armenian student from a local public school was among the top winners. This year’s second and third place winners were Talar Habeshian of AGBU, Hratch and Tamar Manoukian High school in Pasadena, and Shant Artenian of Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School of Hollywood.
“Visit Armenia, It Is Beautiful” is a non-commercial, non-profit project, with an aim to promote tourism to Armenia through its slogan/logo, website and other events in an effort to help Armenia’s economy by encouraging tourism. The project showcases Armenia as a touristic country, for Armenians and non-Armenians.
The essay contest encourages young Armenians to go beyond what they have learned in school, in organizations, or at home by giving an opportunity to conduct their own research and be able to express their ideas, thoughts and feelings to build upon their identity, create a greater bond with Armenia and a desire to visit. For those who have come from Armenia or have already visited, the contest provides a forum to relay their experiences, communicate their intentions to return and explain why.
Building upon and strengthening, not only the desire, but the need to visit Armenia is the first stepping stone that the essay contest provides. For more details, and to view several of the essays entered this year, visit www.visitarmenia.org