NEW YORK — A total of 92 students, comprised of 50 from the junior class of AGBU Manoogian-Demirdjian School in Canoga Park, Calif., 34 seniors of the AGBU Marie Manoogian School in Buenos Aires, Argentina and eight juniors from AGBU High School-Pasadena, made two-week pilgrimages to Armenia this summer. The California schools’ trips began in the latter part of June and ended in early July, while the Argentinean school’s occurred in late July and early August.
All three groups visited major historic and cultural landmarks throughout the country, including the reconstructed temple of Garni, the medieval monastery of Geghard, the Sardarabad monument, the ancient Khor Virab monastery, Lake Sevan and Holy Echmiadzin. Other sites taken in by students from one or two of the groups were the Dzidzernagapert (Fortress of the Swallows) Armenian Genocide Monument and Museum; the military cemetery Yerablur; the house-museums of literary greats Yeghishe Charents and Hovhannes Toumanian; the Matenadaran Manuscript Repository in Yerevan; the fort of Amberd; the monastery of Sanahin; St. Hripsime and St. Gayane churches, as well as the ruins of Zvartnotz near Echmiadzin.
The juniors from the two AGBU high schools in California also visited the AGBU Children’s Center in Nork, a district of Yerevan, where they were treated to an impressive performance of song, dance and acrobatics by its students. The juniors from Manoogian-Demirdjian High School met with the Georgian president and were interviewed by a local radio station. In addition, they visited the Orran Center for impoverished children in Yerevan. Seniors of Marie Manoogian High School visited the AGBU Armenian Representation offices, met the local staff and became acquainted with AGBU activities in Armenia. While there, students met AGBU scouts from Beirut and Iraq, who had arrived in Armenia to attend AGBU Camp Antranik. The two groups spent the whole afternoon together, sharing their thoughts and impressions, and forming bonds that were based on their common cultural identity.
The trip for the graduating seniors of Marie Manoogian was made possible through a number of fundraising events organized by the school, students and their parents at the AGBU Center in Buenos Aires throughout the year. These include the renowned Friday-evening, and the more recently instituted Saturday-evening, Armenian dinners, which are prepared by the school’s parents and served by the senior class. These events are attended by Buenos Aires’ Armenian and non-Armenian communities and have become an entrenched tradition in the city, ensuring that Marie Manoogian students, regardless of their financial conditions, will be able to experience firsthand the sights and sounds of the Armenian homeland.