CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Light from a late summer full moon shone on Cambridge City Hall where Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui invited the public to the Sullivan Chamber on September 8 to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA).
In 1985, Armenia was still part of the Soviet Union, when the Cambridge City Council and the Cambridge Peace Commission founded the CYSCA, as a partnership between the citizens of Cambridge and Yerevan. They wanted to foster friendship, mutual trust and dynamic interaction between the peoples of the two countries and their neighboring regions. The primary idea was to counter misinformation and images of the Soviet Union and its people as an “Evil Empire,” the now-infamous description of the USSR by President Ronald Reagan in 1983.
In 1986, a delegation from Cambridge traveled to the Soviet Republic of Armenia with former mayor and then City Councilor Frank Duehay to present a formal proposal to Mayor Eduard Avakian of Yerevan for the two cities to become Sister Cities. A year later the Yerevan mayor and an Armenian delegation traveled to Cambridge to formalize the agreement. Since the end of the USSR the Cambridge – Yerevan connection has remained strong with scientific, educational, and art and youth exchanges.
Brian Corr, executive director of the Cambridge Peace Commission, was the master of ceremonies for the 35th Anniversary event. He introduced Sevan Dulgarian, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Commonwealth Honors College to sing the Star Spangled Banner and Alla Petrosyan from the Boston Children’s Chorus to sing Mer Hairenik (Our Fatherland), the Armenian National Anthem, and later the song Erebuni (the name of ancient Yerevan). Corr wants to discuss future projects.
Siddiqui welcomed the evenings participants and congratulated the CYSCA on 35 years as one of the most amazing partnerships.
Patty Nolan, former school committee member and current City Councilor, who married into an Armenian family, spoke briefly about Armenian history and culture, hosting visitors from Armenia, why CYSCA is so relevant because the organization make connections, celebrates community, and keeps connections of the years between Cambridge and Yerevan.