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01/08/2020

“If your plan for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for 10 years, plant trees. If your plan is for 100 years, educate children.” Confucius.

The saying is what exemplifies the work of the Knights of Vartan since its inception103 years ago. The very first scholarships were for the American Armenian communities in the Middle East (Vahan Tekeyan school in Beirut, Haygazian National School in Halep and others) as well as in the USA to encourage Armenian youth to return to school after the memories of the horrible genocide of our people.

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Impressions of Veratarts Hayrenik IV Trip by NS Nishan Dulgerian

For years I planned to take a trip to my ancestral home in Sepasdia but realities sunk in and I sought another vehicle to relieve my desire to visit my forefathers’ land. For me this desire was superseded with my participation to Veratarts Hayrenik (Back to Homeland) Trip IV which took place in Yerevan, Armenia during September 14-22, 2019.

This well-organized trip had a clear purpose of seeing in real life what Knights and Daughters of Vartan have been accomplishing through their benevolent and charitable activities to improve social and educational infrastructure in Armenia’s various regions during a period spanning more than two decades.

I shared my joy of witnessing various success stories benefiting number of schools and needy families with more than two dozen Knights and Daughters of Vartan members who took part of this year’s Veratarts Hayrenik Trip.      

Assisted by Sbarabed Tigran Sahakyan of Mamigonian Tahlij and NS Hunan Arshakian of Gomidas Tahlij, Ms. Gohar Palyan, our Liaison at the Knights of Vartan Communications Office in Yerevan, had painstakingly organized Tahlij project site visits in the capital city of Yerevan and in cities like Aparan and Gyumri, plus project sites near Berd in Tavush Marz. For her credit, Gohar had arranged numerous opportunities to visit Government officials in the capital city and other town and city officials on our travel route.

We were welcomed and entertained by hundreds of bright-eyed and very talented school children at every school construction and reconstruction project sites we visited through the week. What we saw and experienced was out of ordinary. The joy of interacting with students patiently awaiting our group’s arrival, meeting their principals and teaching staff, talking to students’ caretakers, and listening their words of gratitude at every step of the way made us feel like royalty!

This trip provided all participants the knowledge and personal exposure to real life circumstances at the KOV project sites. What we usually hear at our home Tahlijes and Otyags as second-hand news was replaced with real life observations and first-hand insight obtained from project’s beneficiaries. Meeting people like Harutyun Manucharyan, Governor of Tavush Marz, and his field man, Hayk Chobanyan; Marine Vardanyan, Principal of Yerevan’s Basic School No.106, named after the Knights of Vartan; Khachanush Hakobyan, Exec. Director of the Armenian-American Wellness Center; Professor Karin Markides, President of American University of Armenia; and such luminaries as Zareh Sinanyan, the former mayor of Glendale, California, and now the newly-appointed High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs for the Republic of Armenia and having Q&A sessions with them could never be measured in dollar figures.

Our trip was accentuated by visits to historic sites and famous eateries along our travel route where we savored local delicacies literally hot off the grill! Planned or not, our site visits and interactions with the locals, taught us to accept lifestyles different than ours and try to see the prospect of goodness along with the bad and the inescapable our fellow countrymen in Armenia must live. I think KOV’s Veratarts Hayrenik Trips help us appreciate these realities and feel content that our contributions to erect another school or reconstruct potable water distribution system in a remote village are helping to improve our Fatherland’s social and educational infrastructure.