Apr 25, 2019

Student works to keep Armenian culture alive

Aside from being president of ASO, Vartush Mesropyan is also a
DJ for KFSR every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon where she hosts
an Armenian radio show called “Hye Oozh.”
Photo courtesy of Vartush Mesropyan

As president of the Armenian Students Organization (ASO), Vartush Mesropyan takes pride in helping educate students about her culture.

“As I was growing up, I had always wanted to get involved with a group of Armenians that had the strength and determination to keep the Armenian culture, history and language alive,” Mesropyan said.

Throughout her time in school, Mesropyan has been involved in both multicultural clubs and Armenian clubs. Communication and involvement with other Armenians is something she has made a priority.

Mesropyan was raised in an Armenian community, went to an Armenian school, and has many Armenian friends. This motivated Mesropyan to become involved in ASO, where she now is president.

“I just want to keep going and keep being involved so I don’t forget who I am, and so I could pass on what I know to my own children one day,” Mesropyan said.

ASO was established in 1977 and its purpose is to give students the opportunity to get more familiar with the Armenian language, culture and history.

“It is my duty to make this organization grow with its activities and participation, because as young Armenians, we are the future to all new generations,” Mesropyan said.

Alongside Barlow Der Mugrdechian, coordinator of the Armenian Studies Program, ASO sponsors different kinds of lectures for students to come and learn about Armenia and its people.

“We coordinate Armenian singing and dancing workshops, spread awareness on campus about our history (typically about the Armenian Genocide), volunteer in the Armenian community and just do as much as we can,” Mesropyan said.

Last week, ASO held an event commemorating the Armenian Genocide in the Free Speech Area, where many came out and participated in the events. Students read poems, memoirs, and sang songs. Hygo Ogannesian was the keynote speaker, and students from the Charlie Keyan Armenian School and Arax Dancers participated as well.

To conclude the events, students and community members placed flowers on the Armenian Martyrs Monument. There was also a silent march on campus, where students taped their mouths with red tape with the word “denial” on it.

This was done in remembrance of the Armenians killed in the Genocide, and the 97 years of denial. Mesropyan said the purpose of these events were for other students on campus to recognize and understand the Armenian history.

The Armenian Genocide is something that Armenians keep very close to their heart.

On April 24, 1915, 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire.

“The young Turks wanted to destroy Armenia in order to eliminate a Christian nation and a powerful race,” Mesropyan said. “Armenian men, women and children were captured, massacred and deported.”

For 97 years, Turkey has denied the genocide, causing it to be rarely recognized. This is why Mesropyan and members of ASO make every effort to recognize it.

“Sometimes I ask myself, ‘why?’ but God knows why because until this day Armenians stand strong and they are still growing in a strong nation.” Mesropyan said. “We live with hope and strength that the day will come for the Turks [to] recognize what they have done.”

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