Farewell song of the Tavitian Scholars at Fletcher (photo: Aram Arkun)

Fletcher Tavitian Scholars Present Program on Milestones for Armenian Identity


MEDFORD, Mass. – The 2018 Tavitian Scholars at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University on April 19 presented a program “Three Milestones that Shaped the Armenian Identity” at Tufts. Gayane Hayrapetyan, head of the Secretariat of the Ministry of Culture, Youth Affairs and Tourism of the Republic of Artsakh, served as master of ceremonies.

Dr. Joyce Barsam, left, with Gayane Hayrapetyan (photo: Aram Arkun)

Hayrapetyan introduced Dr. Joyce Barsam, a member of the Fletcher School Board of Advisors and vice-president of the Tavitian Foundation. Barsam pointed out that the cooperation between Fletcher and the Tavitian Foundation is now in its 19th year. She said that it produced a critical mass of almost 300 young professionals who have each received six months of advanced training at the Fletcher School. She declared that, “we are investing in Armenia’s best raw material—its most plentiful natural resource. No, it is not oil. No, it is not gas, gold or silver. It is the intellectual capacity of its youth.” She pointed out one of the “champion graduates” of the program sitting in the front row, Robert Avetisyan, class of 2006, who has become the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh Republic) to the United States.

Robert Loynd (photo: Aram Arkun)

Robert Loynd, Fletcher’s Director of Executive Education, declared that he was “a proud friend of the Tavitian Foundation, the Tavitian Scholars and certainly of Armenia as well.” Of the seven in-residence programs he manages in executive education, he said that this is the bedrock or cornerstone program. This is the program that Fletcher uses as a guidepost when planning other such programs.

Viktor Yengibaryan (photo: Aram Arkun)

Tavitian Scholar Viktor Yengibaryan, president of the European Movement of Armenia, then spoke on the “Centennial of the First Republic.” Displaying slides, he gave the background of this republic, the first independent state after the fall of the medieval Armenian kingdom of Cilicia. At the beginning of the twentieth century, this republic stood out by having elected three female parliamentarians, and the appointment of a female ambassador to Japan. Yengibaryan continued the story up to the present, covering the Karabakh Movement and the independence of the third republic of Armenia and the ongoing protest movements which now are known to many as the Velvet Revolution.

Narek Melkumyan (photo: Aram Arkun)

Tavitian Scholar Narek Melkumyan, assistant to the Deputy Mayor of Yerevan, spoke on the “2800th Anniversary of Yerevan,” giving a historical excursion to the audience from ancient times to the present of the developments that made this ancient city, chronologically the 12th capital of Armenia, so memorable. He also provided some of the highlights of Yerevan’s unique touristic sites, and ended by showing a brief inspirational video on the city.

Arega Hovsepyan (photo: Aram Arkun)

Arega Hovsepyan, who works at the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, gave a talk titled the “Nagorno Karabakh Freedom Movement.” She began with the events at the end of the Soviet Union and the foundation of the state of Artsakh. She asked the audience to remember that Nagorno Karabakh is not the name of a conflict but of the home of freedom-loving people and a special culture. Hovsepyan declared that Europe starts from Karabakh both geographically and due to a shared system of values.

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The three illustrated talks were similar to classroom projects and no doubt served as useful practice for the scholars. Certainly it was an unusual combination of themes.

Robert Avetisyan (photo: Aram Arkun)

Closing remarks were made by Avetisyan, and Rouben Shougarian, the first ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United States and a professor at the Fletcher School. Avetisyan said that the Armenians of Artsakh in particular appreciate the possibility of participating in large international programs like that of the Fletcher School because they have fewer such opportunities than the Armenians of Armenia. Despite the tough neighborhood, the Artsakh Armenians are doing their best to live the lives they want, Avetisyan said. They try their best to overcome their problems and look forward to the future celebration of many decades of freedom.

Rouben Shougarian (photo: Aram Arkun)

Shougarian declared that a restless quest for knowledge and universal values was the commonality shared by the three topics discussed this day. He reminisced about the early days of the recent movement for Armenian independence and praised the Fletcher School’s efforts over the past several decades as having a major impact on Armenian life. Many of its graduates are in the government or the opposition.

The program finished with an Armenian song that the Tavitian Scholars prepared and sang for the audience, followed by a reception.

The Tavitian Scholars finished their official six-month stay in Boston and left for their jobs in Armenia and Artsakh this June.

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