Saturday, September 28, 2013
Armenians in New York
The past four months I have been active in various community activities: a. Armenian b. where I reside c. the International community. As well as trying to pursue my various interests and ideas.
Recently I had suggested to have a program, where Armenian youth would get involved in helping various Armenian organizations and in return get credit for it when they apply for higher education. To get community service credit. As a result, I was asked to look further into this and get back with suggestions and how to go about it. If any of you reading this has suggestions, let me know! Many years ago I was asked by a parent, if I knew of a program for Armenian youth helping their community. I wasn't aware of any specific program within the Armenian community.
My research led me to Hrag Vartanian's fantastic article, summing up in a very concise manner and to the point the highlights of Armenian presence in New York. I felt this was a great start in my research. The wonderful article is from 2002 and very relevant. It gives you an insight about the New York Armenian community with facts and figures. It was a very fascinating read. Some of the names were already familiar to me. I have been also part of this community since I came over, without realizing at the time that I would stay and settle here for good. When I was new here, Armenians would ask me "which church you belong to". It used to puzzle and annoy me so much! Back in Lebanon, if they asked you "where are you from", we immediately understood it meant "where your grandparents came from the old country or Asia Minor."
Later on, as it's mentioned in Hrag's article, I understood the reason why. There was a terrible tragedy that had happened in the New York Armenian community. Many of the youth, over the years, felt that no matter what, we are Armenians and frequented events and activities put together with great effort and personal sacrifice. The events were the main focus and not which institution or organization had put it together.
Here is the link to Hrag's precious article entitled "Tracking Armenians in New York" at: http://armeniapedia.org/index.php?title=New_York_City
Further, I felt the need to address the needs of the society, specially it's youth. While my husband and I were bringing up our children, I felt the great void in meeting the needs of local New York youth and couples raising their children in New York. Most events and activities you would see mostly the elderly and the youth is missing terribly. Hence, for starters, I had the page for New York Armenians open group on Facebook. As starting point, promoting the various events put together by whatever organization or institute. Slowly but surely, it passed recently the 1000 members mark! I hope the youth will be more actively involved in voicing their needs and suggest solutions, so that those involved in the Armenian community would know how to channel their limited resources and efforts.
The first gathering was over 2 years ago at Bryant Park. As I was extremely busy with my work and family life, I was unable to have gatherings for the group. Yesterday I had set up our 2nd get together at the Armenian Society. It had two reasons, the first being, to support an Armenian institution, which every Friday evening has dinner served from 7:30pm. The second reason, to help bring in the youth in our community. The Armenian Society was put together by the efforts of so many dedicated Armenians, however it sorely needs it's youth to go there and be involved. Yesterday, sadly only two admins, including myself were there. We had tried to go out of our way to make an effort to bring the members, however no one else showed up! Hayk and I were a bit at loss as to how to go about getting the youth to come together in order to have some casual conversation. Discuss what they need and exchange ideas for future gatherings. I thank Hayk Rakidjian for always actively helping out with the New York Armenians group. We also have several other admins, as we need a lot of help running it smoothly.
If you have any suggestion or ideas as to how to proceed with future events and casual activities for the New York Armenian community, please let us know on the wall of the group. Or drop me a message on Facebook.
One more thing Hayk and I found out, that the Armenian Society had put together a dinner dance to raise funds for the Syrian Armenian community for tonight. However they had to cancel it, as only 7 people had made reservations! That's pretty sad. What does our community really want? How to get them to come together? I ask you, Armenians residing in New York.