Sirusho: I’ve been travelling since childhood; I visit different countries of the world. It has always fascinated me to study the Armenians living in other countries: who they are, how they manage to stay so Armenian being so far from homeland?! How they settle in а foreign land and get accomplished. What are the efforts they make to teach their kids Armenian? The growing generation is very promising. Sirusho: How so carefully and lovingly they preserve culture. Our dance is not just a dance. Our dance is an Armenian one. It’s one of a kind. And our dance indeed belongs to us. Sirusho: How is love for motherland passed down by generations and how much of it is being kept? If I’m Armenian than my grandpa is Armenian and this is the way our family is strong and very Armenian committed. It’s faith that gives us hope, it’s faith that provides with answers. Sirusho: We are much more and much stronger than it may seem. We must dare to open up to the world. Opening is the way to prosperity. Sirusho: Who are we? And how strong our roots are?! Sirusho: It’s cold in New Jersey. What’s the temperature? How cold is it? -Probably… 8-9 by your scales (literally steps in Armenian). -Sirusho: 8-9 degrees by our scales? And how far is New York from here? If I’m not mistaken it’s only half an hour from here, right? -Yeah, half an hour. Sirusho: So, we won’t have enough time for it. We have a very tight schedule here, so yeah, no time to go to New York, one of my most favorite cities, we’ll see it from afar. -Hello! Hello!
-Welcome! Sirusho: In New Jersey, they made me feel like home. This is a typical Armenian gathering with all its customs and traditions. What Armenians do when they gather?! – they definitely discuss what is going on in Armenia, despite the number of guests, women make sure everything is neat and beautiful every second, children, as a rule, get bored during this time, adults drink toasts appreciating life, and the gathering is definitely attended by a leader of the local Armenian Church. -Blessed be our Lord Jesus Christ, amen. May this table be blessed, bon appetite. Sirusho: After tasting home made dishes and finishing all the discussions, the most unifying patterns begin when absolutely everyone a part of the game, they play music, dance, and, of course, sing together. . It is these traditions that keep us Armenian and united and should never be forgotten. Sirusho: How are you? -Fine, how are you? Sirusho: Good, good, Very good. Are you ready? -Yes!! – Sirusho: Can I ask you two to change places with each other? Sirusho: Once again! Sirusho: You should make them feel good, people, the audienc should really feel good. Sirusho: The day of the concert was well under way and proceeding in its natural way. Everybody was busy with their work, a few hours, and the doors would open and the audience would come in. Probably about three hours were left when a very unexpected serious technical problem occurred. Sirusho: With these kind of problems the concert couldn’t possibly take place. Sirusho: We made as many changes as possible, until the last few seconds, until the lights went off and we remained hopeful that despite all of these the concert would take place and go on well. Three… Two… One… -Congratulations, it was an unprecedented concert for our community, for our diaspora, an unprecedented holiday, a festive day. Sirusho: Thank you! You raised everyone’s spirits, and most importantly once again you made these kids remember that they are Armenian. -The New Jersey Chapter of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Societyy Societyy in partnership with the Armenian Relief Society’s Agnouni branch of New Jersey ccelebrated the 100th anniversary of the First Republic of Armenia and the 90th anniversary of the Armenian National Educational Cultural Union with an unprecedented concert. -We are very, extremely excited about today’s concert, performance. – The enthusiasm of the audience was endless, sometimes you wonder, where do so many of these young people living in America take so much ‘‘Armenian” from, why their hearts and souls are so engulfed by national music and national culture. They say it’s the blood call, or may it possibly be the national upbringing?”. -For me, this concert is part of the preservation of the Armenian identity, because living in a foreign country and preserving the Armenian identity is difficult. -It was a very proud feeling to dance on stage, to have a lot of fun with Sirusho with all the people, and to make our dance family bigger. – We must dance to the end, and one day we will definitely dance in Western Armenia. – Sirusho asked us all to move to the homeland, and that alone, is a part of national upbringing, the little ones on stage or in the hall heard, saw, felt that, I don’t even talk about adults. Such initiatives not only inspire young Armenians abroad but also make them want to visit their homeland at least, let alone moving there for life. Sirusho: We try to involve the local Armenians, the local talented Armenians, the local dancers, musicians for each and every concert. Here, I am happy to have worked with the Nairi Dance Ensemble. That love and longing that I have seen among Diasporan Armenians, our compatriots have been conveyed to me, and that has probably been the greatest inspiration for the Armat CD and it all was included in this CD and this concert. Today we’re taking off to Boston, but right now, we came to visit this artist who is very famous here, he is Armenian by nationality, and I found out that he was inspired by the concert to paint me, my portrait and we definitely came to see it before we go to Boston. Sirusho: Hello, -Nina
Sirusho: Nice to meet you, Sirusho. – When I was painting the picture of the Genocide time was very short. So in the course of my exhibition in Italy, I received the news that I had received a Leonardo da Vinci award, I went to receive it of course but as time was running short, I went for a week only, then came back to work a little, twenty days later, I received the Michelangelo Prize again in Italy, so I went again. So I was going back and forth trying to work fast so that it didn’t feel I was missing out and the picture was changing, by the way. I was painting on the subject of Genocide, in the beginning it wasn’t about icons, the bottom part was the Genocide, the top part was brighter, today’s future, and so on… there wasn’t much time left when the committee decided to not emphasize the Genocide but to sanctify it more. So I left it as it was, it was a big one, I went quickly to buy canvas and staff. So I brought it, I started a new one. The previous one still remains like that, it’s a bit unfinished… and I painted that new one, and I consider it a great success because you can see it in twenty states in America, in Armenia and Karabagh, Italy, plus Lebanon. Sirusho: Oh, so you have started! -Impressed both during and after the concert. Surely I’ve known you since long time ago…. I have been to your Lebanon concert nine or ten years ago, very nice, enthusiastic, and generally I follow all your tours, starting from Europe and in general, I mean all of them… Sirusho: Thank you. -I am happy to congratulate you again, again, we are happy to… now, I can show you a portrait, that…. Sirusho: Oh, so that’s also me? -Yeah, can you tell? Sirusho: so, you’ve done it all in one day… because it’s been only one day since -Yes, yes, yes
Sirusho: So, you’ve started three portraits already. -Last year I received more than 17 international awards. -Inspiration… it can be many things, it can be very cosmic, it can be very habitual, it can be a simple flower, it can be a pomegranate, it can be a person like Sirusho today, one day it was the Catholicos of All Armenians came here, I’ve painted presidents. When I was painting this old lady, they said… the neighbors next door kept saying, “our house is much more beautiful, why don’t you paint our house? We’ll slaughter a chicken on your honor, or a ram, and so on….. ….. and then, when I finished, they said. “Is this house in our village so beautiful? “. That is, they saw it with my eyes, although I’d painted everything, every stone, everything in exactly the same exact way. I didn’t add anything and I didn’t decrease anything either. I just painted it with love and in the soul of truth. The painting is called “Longing”. I saw quite a few painters who were desperate from Leningrad, Moscow, they were in despair, it taught me a lesson, I said wait, I need to do something, I need to fight for it and people who were big collectors started finding me. Rembrandt, Dali, Matisse, Picasso, he has a huge collection and had heard about me. By the way, this is Salvador Dali’s son, I’m receiving an award in Milan, that’s it. Every time you go to New York you come back so emotionally charged and it’s quiet here.. like in New York you probably can’t sit and paint, it’s just impossible, but when I come back here it’s so calm, it feels like our Stepanakert home, although small, but… Sirusho: Do you know that feeling? We have to move because we have to go to Boston today, as I still have a concert there, in two days. Sirusho: So this was New Jersey, with a population of nine million, it is difficult to say precisely how many of them are Armenians, but one can surely say that, here, just as well, Armenians were able to remain extremely Armenian and adhering to their values and principles. – I came from Armenia, like you, like all of us. any came from Armenia and Ancient Armenia, but coming here I learned a lot. Seeing the spirit of this people, their commitment, their commitment to staying Armenian and raising their children Armenian makes us strong. -Being born and raised abroad… Armenia is sacred to us… and certainly to protect and preserve our language …. so that we remain Armenian, we work hard to learn the Armenian language abroad to remain Armenian. The difference in Armenia, as every person speaks Armenian, there is no other currents that will pose a danger. – Here every parent, fathers and mothers must every moment protect, work and work hard to be Armenian, to keep his child Armenian and to raise them Armenian and to raise an Armenian generation. We as parents strugle to take our kids to an Armenian school, an Armenian Sunday school, to a national dance group. – Say: How are you?
– How are you? -We make every effort so that our children, speak Armenian so they are 100 percent Armenians. -We have three daughters, unfortunately two of them have married foreigners, one an Armenian, but I can say that my foreign son-in-law is more Armenian than the Armenian one, so…. -Not necessarily Armenians… you see that the Italians, who are Italians, the Irish, the Germans that came here and hadn’t preserved their usual, even every day meals, everyday conversations, everyday dances and events, they haven’t protected it and now their kids have no traditions, no interest in who they are. because you want to have some identity when you are living and growing up, you are not living alone, people do not live alone, and you see it very well in non-Armenians, in the nations that did not preserve their nationality,they’ve just turned into a melting part. So they borrow a little bit from each and every one possible, like this, and when they ask us what you do for Easter, when it comes to Easter, what you do for Easter? And you go, like: oh, I have a flower decorating ceremony and I have to go to Easter and we have to do this with kids, they start wondering, they become jealous because there is no belonging, they happen to be very lonely. We see the loneliness with our own eyes, we see it every day, it doesn’t exist in Armenia, your neighbor is Armenian, everything outside is Armenian, the TV is Armenian, the radio is Armenian you don’t feel what loneliness is, but as you are here, you see it next to you, When you are in college, at work, your parents are calling, your brother is calling, your daughter-in-law is calling, your girlfriend is calling, and they , they just get a call from their kid, and that is also a big probability. You see it and you see it every day. – I was born here, I was born and raised here, I can hardly speak Armenian, but I try to make sure that our children remain Armenian. If we do not preserve our nationality in this country, it will be destroyed and the offspring of our children will not be Armenian any more. Over the years, generation after generation, there will be no Armenians left. They will have no idea that they are Armenian, so we are trying to marry Armenians, to establish a family with an Armenian so that their offsprings remain Armenian, otherwise there will be no Armenians after two or three generations, they will not know who their forefathers were.