By Katie Van Adzin
CAMBRIDGE — “Are you here for the Armenian party? It’s down there!” A help- ful student pointed towards a graffiti-covered door prominently emblazoned with the word “SEX.” But opening it and descending the stairs revealed something even better: the Greater Boston Area Armenian Social, hosted on February 25 in the Bexley Hall dormitory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The social, sponsored and organized by the MIT Armenian Society, attracted over 90 young Armenians from the Boston area. The event was publicized by Armenian student organizations at Harvard, Wellesley, Boston University, Tufts and Boston College. Some guests came from as far away as Columbia, Brown and Yale, with the ages of attendees ranging from 18 to 40. The majority of guests were undergraduate students at Boston-area colleges, but there were young professionals in attendance as well.
The guests congregated in the basement of the building, where large speakers played energetic Middle Eastern dance music that immediately had people doing Armenian line dances at varying levels of skill. Attendees enthusiastically showed one another the steps to various traditional dances as everyone laughed and clapped along. Others played pool and beer pong, while some socialized in a quieter adjoin- ing room.
Sarine Shahmirian of MIT and Knar Bedian of Tufts were the chief organizers of the event, the planning of which began roughly three months ago. The two met for the first time through their efforts to plan the social. Bedian has maintained a connection to her Armenian heritage through her involvement in the diaspora community, attending Armenian school and membership in the Armenian Youth Federation, through which she hopes to get an internship in Armenia in the future. Shahmirian’s family is from Iran, but she has relatives in Armenia. She returns to visit Armenia every two years and has done volunteer work in the villages of Khor Virap and Garni.
When asked about the feedback she had received from guests of the event, Shahmirian described it as “highly positive. This kind of thing just hasn’t been done, at least in a while, and people were very excited to see a big bunch of Armenians dancing, laughing, having a good time. We are definitely throwing another party this year, if not by the end of this semester.” The organizers characterized their event as somewhat different from similar events held within the community by larger organizations, in that it was organized entirely by students and had no ties to any particular group.