From Africa to Armenian Studies
FROM AFRICA TO ARMENIAN STUDIES
[image: Sona Haroutyunian-Mounah Saksouk]
I would have never imagined that one day, being born in Liberia and raised
in the USA, I was going to end up as a student in the class of Dr. Sona
Haroutyunian who came from Italy, from the Ca'Foscari University of Venice
as a visiting professor to teach a semester in the Armenian Studies Program
at California State University in Fresno.
My interest in the Armenian Studies Program stemmed from my love for
cultures. My philosophy is that although we all have different traditions,
languages and mannerisms, we are all more similar than different. However,
we will only know this by educating ourselves about each other. Through the
Armenian Studies program I have been able to accomplish this.
When I learned about this new professor coming a long way from Europe I
could not miss her class. The class that Dr. Haroutyunian taught was a
topics course on the Armenian Genocide. I was thrilled to take this class.
What I found was a life changing experience.
Dr. Haroutyunian's class introduced us to the concepts of history, memory,
literature and translation. Her wealth of knowledge was refreshing.
Dr. Haroutyunian brought life to what we learned. She accomplished this by
having us apply it to our own personal experiences. She encouraged us to
incorporate our class readings and discussions into the writing of our
papers. Her knack of bringing out each student's unique writing ability is
commendable and attests to the fact that she is a wonderfully inspiring
In the last few months of the course, we read various Genocide narratives
including *Skylark Farm* by Antonia Arslan and *My Grandmother* by Fethiye
Cetin. Also, we compared these narratives to the *Skylark Farm* movie. By
using these contrasting techniques, Dr. Haroutyunian dealt with the
Armenian Genocide from quite a new perspective. Her techniques helped us to
better understand the role of literature, translation and movie in raising
awareness of the Armenian Genocide. Most importantly they relayed the idea
of the unity of the Armenian people through adversity and how they have
become a successful diaspora. This notion uplifted my spirit. The reason
for this is because like the Armenians, the Liberian people have gone
through adversity. The Armenians are a model of hope that Liberians and
many other nations can successfully prosper after experiencing a traumatic
Dr. Haroutyunian's class was a remarkable course. Through her fervent
passion and dedication to students, she transmitted her love for not only
the Armenian Studies but also the country of Armenia.
As a non-Armenian, I would encourage both Armenians and non-Armenians to
learn about Armenian culture and history. The Armenian Studies Program,
present in the best universities all over the world, has so much to offer.
It is a great Program to educate oneself about a specific nation and
discover who you are.
By Mounah Saksouk