Armenian-language retreat for university students to be held in Boston

BELMONT, Mass.—Responding to a demand among university students and young professionals for Armenian-language driven outlets fostering creativity and professional development, Hamazkayin Eastern Regional Executive announces the launch of a new retreat program.

The program, which will be held at the NAASR Vartan Gregorian Building on May 28-29, will feature actor and producer Sona Tatoyan, Dr. Kristi Rendahl (Minnesota State University, Mankato), Dr. Lisa Gulesserian (Harvard University) and Dr. Khatchig Mouradian (Columbia University).

The gathering provides an environment where university students and young professionals can openly discuss, critique and create in the Armenian language; where Armenian culture and identity are viewed as dynamic; and where top-down approaches give way to horizontal, creative endeavors.

The organizers will provide accommodation for out-of-town participants.

University students and young professionals can apply online. The application deadline is May 20. Participants are expected to have at least a basic understanding of spoken Armenian (Eastern or Western). 

The program is made possible through a grant from the Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. 

The vision of the program was developed in 2019 through focus groups held at Columbia University and discussions with scholars and experts. Mouradian, who serves as program director, led the process. 

Sona Tatoyan is a first generation Syrian-Armenian-American actor/writer/producer. As an actress, her stage credits include world premieres at Yale Repertory Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, The American Conservatory Theatre and others.

She starred in The Journey, the first American independent film shot in Armenia (winner, Audience Award Milan Film Festival, 2002). Her first feature film script, The First Full Moon, was a 2011 Sundance/RAWI Screenwriters Lab participant and 2012 Dubai Film Connection/Festival Project. Recently, Tatoyan created Azad, a multi-media theater piece.

Tatoyan co-founded Disruptive Narrative, a new social justice/social enterprise production company with International Human Rights Barrister Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers. In addition, Robinson and Tatoyan co-founded Hakawati, a non-profit storytelling vehicle focusing on elevating the voices of frontline and marginalized communities. Tatoyan is currently in development of the TV series Three Apples fell from Heaven.

Dr. Lisa Gulesserian is Preceptor of Armenian at Harvard, where she teaches three levels of Western Armenian language. At Harvard and elsewhere, she has taught courses on memory, traumatic pasts, ghosts, female revolutionaries and contemporary Armenian film and literature.

She is the editor of the English translation of Srpuhi Dussap’s nineteenth-century feminist novel, Mayda: Echoes of Protest, published in 2020 by AIWA Press.

Her literary analysis article on Micheline Aharonian Marcom is forthcoming in C21 Literature: Journal of 21st-Century Writings. Her current research interests include analyzing newspaper articles on the Second Karabakh War and developing multimodal materials to teach Western Armenian.

Dr. Kristi Rendahl is associate professor, director of the Nonprofit Leadership program and incoming chair of the Department of Sociology at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

She has worked or consulted in the nonprofit and international NGO sector for over 25 years, including in Armenia from 1997 to 2002.

Although years have passed since she lived in Kotayk, Lori and Yerevan, she has maintained Armenian language skills and connections to Armenia and the Diaspora through travel, connections and events like this.

Dr. Khatchig Mouradian is a lecturer in Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University, and the Armenian and Georgian Area specialist in the African and Middle Eastern Division at the Library of Congress.

He serves as co-principal investigator with Prof. Paul Boghossian (chair, NYU Philosophy) of the project on Armenian Genocide Denial at the Global Institute for Advanced Studies, New York University.

He is the author of The Resistance Network: The Armenian Genocide and Humanitarianism in Ottoman Syria, 1915-1918.

by Hamazkayin Eastern U.S. armenianweekly.com

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