Aug 9 2009

Armenian camp offers kids history lessons in native dance and art

By Steve Kowalski ¢ ECCENTRIC STAFF WRITER ¢ August 9, 2009

SOUTHFIELD ' A 2007 trip to Armenia with the choir of St. John's
Armenian Church in Southfield struck a chord with Rubik Mailian, the
church's deacon and choir director.

The itinerary included a visit to the Nork Children's Center, which
featured children presenting art, dance and music in forms true to the
Armenian heritage, according to Mailian.
`When I saw the program I said we needed to bring some of the teachers
back and teach our children,' Mailian said.
His hopes were fulfilled.
The church at 22001 Northwestern Highway just finished a pair of
two-week sessions of Arts of Armenia summer camp for children 8-16,
featuring professional instructors, Arman Julhakian and Ella Pepanyan,
imported from Armenia.
Julhakian, a dancer, and Pepanyan, an artist, made instant
impressions, even with the boys, who were a tougher sell, according to
`Usually children complain about getting up early, `I have to go to
another camp again,'' Mailian said. `But these children were
enthusiastic about getting up in the early morning, and wanted to come
back. It's the kind of art (dance and painting) you see in Armenia.'
Bob Kachadourian, a senior and native Armenian now living in
Bloomfield Hills, said the opportunity was rare for second and third
generation American born children of Armenian immigrants.
Kachadourian said he has a 35-year-old son whom he taught Armenian
customs to when he was a young boy. Once second and third generation
Armenians get ingrained in American customs, they tend to take their
customs from the native land for granted, Kachadourian said.
That's why getting professional instruction from native Armenians was
such a good opportunity, he said.
`As another generation passes, or two generations pass, assimilation
takes place, and it's more difficult to retain your heritage,'
Kachadourian said. `Here, you had native Armenians who are pretty darn
good in their field, and this kind of thing sticks with kids
forever. This is a marvelous opportunity to identify with your

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