AGBU Hye Geen’s Third Annual Conference Examines Status of Armenian Communities in the United States

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AGBU Hye Geen’s Forum for Armenian Social and Cultural Studies (FACSS)
held a one-day conference on April 12, 2008 at California State
University of Los Angeles, in conjunction with the college’s School of
Social Work, College of Health and Human Services. The subject of the
conference was “The Status of Armenian Communities Living in the United States.”
Opening remarks were delivered by Talin Yacoubian of AGBU Hye Geen’s
Young Circle. She first expressed her gratitude to Dr. Karin A. Elliot
Brown of the university’s School of Social Work for her continued
cooperation. She also thanked three youth organizations, namely the
Armenian Social Work Caucus, the Cal. State Los Angeles Chapter of Alpha
Epsilon Omega Fraternity, as well as AGBU Generation Next, for their
close cooperation.
The first speaker was Rev. Fr. Sarkis Petoyan of St. John Armenian
Church in San Francisco, who spoke about “The Faith, Church Membership
and Attendance Practices of the Armenian Baby Boom Generation.”
Next on the program was a panel presentation dealing with issues of
class conflict, social justice and oppression of vulnerable populations.
The panelists were introduced by Houri Keshishian, a member of Hye
Geen’s FACSS group.
The panelists presented their research on various fields, including Paul
Naccashian, owner and principal consultant with Collaborative Solutions
in Azusa, California, who spoke about “Conflict Mode Analysis of
Armenians in the United States: Similarities and Differences, a
Comparative Study”; Shakeh Baghdasarian, a graduate of the School of
Social Work at California State University of Los Angeles, broached the
subject of “Experiences of Armenian Homosexuals Living in the United
States”; and Dr. Martin J. Adamian, professor at California State
University of Los Angeles, spoke about “The Use of Law and Genocide: The
Armenian Experience.”
The panel presentations were followed by the introduction of the guest
speaker, Boghos Levon Zekiyan, by AGBU Hye Geen founder and chairman,
Sona Yacoubian. Zekiyan is an ordained “vartabed” of the Armenian
Catholic Mekhitarist Order and the founder of the Venice Ca’foscari
University’s summer intensive course in Armenian language and culture
under the aegis of his Padus Araxes Cultural Association. Yacoubian paid
tribute to the scholar theologian, a professor of Armenian Church
institutions at the Pontifical Oriental Institute of Rome, as well as a
member of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. Zekiyan spoke
about “Women’s Role in the Armenian Society as a Factor of Mutual
Integration.”
After the lunch break, Saro Ayvazian, of the Alpha Epsilon Omega
Fraternity at CSU-LA, spoke about his organization’s range of
activities. The presentation was followed by a second session dealing
with “The State of Armenian Youth in Los Angeles.” Ara Arzoumanian,
director of the prevention-based AGBU Generation Next Mentorship
Program, spoke expertly about his program in the Glendale-Pasadena
region; and Osheen Keshishian, publisher/editor of the English-language
The Armenian Observer weekly, faculty member of Glendale Community
College and guest lecturer at California State University, Northridge,
spoke about “The Reflection of the Genocide in the Works of Armenians
Who Write in English.”
The final feature of the conference program was a roundtable discussion
focusing on issues facing the Armenian-American youth of Southern
California. Moderated by Tamar Kevorkian, columnist for The Armenian
Reporter, the participants were Fr. Vazken Movsesian, a priest serving
various Californian churches for the past 25 years and Executive
Director of In His Shoes Ministries, a faith-based organization to rally
support and assistance for people in areas hit by genocide; Melina
Sardar, educational director of Ark Center in Glendale and case manager
at the AGBU Generation Next Mentorship Program; and Arlette
DerHovanessian, a behavioral psychologist, program director in the
Department of Early Education and Extended Learning Programs in the
Glendale Unified School District.
This thought-provoking conference concluded with the closing remarks of
Nayiri Nahabedian, chairperson of FACCS.

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