Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro (right) welcomes Armenian Ambassador Grigor Hovhannissian (left), to the Fresno State campus at the Armenian Genocide Monument on Jan. 28, 2017. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)
It was an afternoon of remembrance and solidarity as Fresno State welcomed Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia, Grigor Hovahannissian, to campus Saturday.
The ambassador was accompanied by Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro and honorary consul for the Republic of Armenia Barj K. Apkarian for a tour of the Armenian Genocide Monument, which was unveiled in 2015.
“This monument is a powerful pride point for us because it’s the only one of its kind on a university campus in the United States,” Castro said. “I think it says to our Armenian community and to all communities that we stand with them, that we support them.”
Castro said the monument also honors the memories of those who paid a heavy price for people to be here today.
“To have one of the finest universities in the state of California dedicate a place to erect this amazing monument, this [is a] powerful symbol that contains symbolism that we feel radiates solidarity,” said Hovahannissian.
The visit took place on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Armenian Armed Forces. The ambassador noted how significant the republic’s rebirth was to the Armenian people.
“[The anniversary] is a very symbolic day for us,” said Hovahannissian. “I wanted to spend it with a powerful dynamic, a beautiful community that I like so much.”
Following a moment of silence for those lost to the genocide 100 years ago, Castro gave the ambassador an official Fresno State souvenir. The two shook hands.
Castro said the ambassador’s visit as an important representation of the growth in Fresno State’s relationships with universities in Armenia.
“I think that is very important for our students to be able to have the opportunity to go abroad to study and for students outside of the United States to come and study,” Castro said. “It enriches the educational opportunities for everyone. So we’re honored to have the ambassador here today.”
Among those in attendance was Congressman Jim Costa, who paid respect to the Armenian community and honored the ongoing relation between the Armenian presence in the San Joaquin Valley and Armenia.
Costa said, “I’m very proud of the Armenian families that have made this Valley what it is today. Truly, generations after generations of Armenians have come to our country and have come to this Valley to have a better opportunity for themselves and their families. Their success has been our success.”