2012 Summer - Birthright Armenia Alumni Newsletter

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2012 Summer - Birthright Armenia Alumni Newsletter
Birthright
Armenia
Alumni Newsletter
Summer Edition
2012
Summer Edition 2012
HAPPENING NOW!
Anita Postaljian (AVC ‘12)
“It has been 20 years since the collapse
of the Soviet Union. With independence
and victory came destruction of daily lives.
Everyday resources stripped away and jobs
lost. It has been 20 years and unemployment
is still a major issue. Most impacted are the
villages where the local artisans struggle to
find a market willing to purchase their work in
order to support themselves and their families.
Charis Tyrrel from Australia was involved
in product development and design for
pillows from Artaboink.
Mariana Ferraro
Kehyayan from Brazil was also a designer, and
tested
different
product
ideas
during her time with HH. Kristina Nerguizian
Demirdjian is from Uruguay and currently
volunteers with me at HH. She keeps the
office running smoothly, processing and
organizing orders, payments, and files.
Homeland Handicrafts (HH) was founded in
2010 by Timothy Straight, honorary counsel of
Norway and Finland. HH seeks out village
women with traditional craft techniques who
can produce products to sell. AVC volunteers
from Australia to Uruguay and everywhere in
between have helped pave the way for
Homeland Handicrafts to be where it is today.
Volunteers at HH have direct contribution in
employing over 100 women in 6 regions of
Armenia.
Volunteers working at HH are able to travel
to the villages and interact with the women
personally to better understand how much work
goes into each tediously hand made product.
To have the opportunity to work in my field of
Marketing while making a positive difference in
the lives of people from my homeland is such
a gratifying experience. I am able to get involved in a variety of different projects from HH
product development to developing tourism
and festival planning in the Shamshadin
Adrine Akopyan, who was born in Arme- region.
nia but raised in California, was Tim’s very
first volunteer who was involved in set- Everyday at the Homeland Handicrafts
ting up the structure of Homeland Handi- office is a reminder to always do what you love
crafts. In fact it was she who was involved while helping others. I am blessed to have the
in the creation of the name and concept. opportunity to do it in Armenia.
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WHO SAID IT’S IMPOSSIBLE?
Since completing the Birthright Armenia program two
years ago, Tatevik Revzian (AVC ‘10) has been back
to Armenia twice already, each time for a different reason, but always guided with the same motivation - to
show ‘how much potential Armenia has as a country’.
This May, Tatevik was back with a group of 26 students
from Denmark as organizer of a study trip to Armenia.
Tatevik Revazian (AVC ‘10)
“Albert Einstein once said: “Imagination is stronger than knowledge. Knowledge is limited, imagination encircles
the world”. Two years have passed since my time as a Birthright Armenia fellow. Here I understood that “being
Armenian” is the imagination and understanding of Armenians worldwide and not only Armenians in Armenia. Being
a part of a multicultural group of Diaspora Armenians both living in Armenia and abroad, local Armenians of all layers
of the society challenged my understandings and beliefs. Inspired me to believe that there are no limits of what I can
achieve in life. Having travelled extensively for the past years, working and studying abroad, taking leading positions in
international organizations still hasn’t had the same impact on me as my time as a being a Birthright Armenia participant. I will be thankful for this experience the rest of my life. This experience gave me a purpose in life – being
part of the development of Armenia - one big challenge is it, but not impossible if you imagine and believe!
My time as a Birthright Armenia participant had taught me to manage unpredictable situations and embrace uncertainty. These challenging situations have had an extensive impact on my personal development. I have become
more independent and opened my eyes to understand and communicate with all type of people in different phases
of their life. These experiences left me with the curiosity and hunger to connect my world with their world.
•
A Danish/Finnish friend and I organized a 10-day intensive seminar in Armenia in the summer of 2011
involving 35 highly skilled students from more than 20 countries. The overall topic was civic engagement and the
seminar emphasized purpose, mastery & self-direction.
•
The latest example is that I organized a study trip to Armenia from 4th May – 11 May 2012 with financial
support from Copenhagen Business School. 26 students and an associate professor attended the trip and met keydecision makers in Armenia.
What motivates me is to show how much potential Armenia has as a country. I want it to become more than just the small, unknown country in the Caucasus. Having brought international youth
to Armenia, observing their reactions, it just makes me believe even more that I am not just a crazy Armenian in love with the country. It makes me realize even more that it has the potential to become
loved by international businessmen, scientists and tourists. source material gathered during the study trip.
Seeing the faces of so many happy and inspired students made it all worth for me. If some of the above projects will actually be initiated it would be just amazing, but not an expectation. But I will do what it takes to help them! My future is quite
unknown right now. I know that I want to be involved in the development of Armenia and attracting businesses to the country.
But it has to somehow be connected to my life in a more professional way so it becomes my livelihood rather than
only volunteering in my spare time.”
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FROM OUR IN-COUNTRY ALUMNI
Globalization & Its New Beginnings
Goqor Bandikian (AVC ‘09)
For a lot of young adults in my generation - coming of age, finding a job in your field,
making a family down the line, and hoping for a better future - are all fundamental goals that we
all aim to achieve. Then we had the 2008 economic crisis in the U.S. and its subsequent destru
ction of a lot of dreams and hopes for not only our generation, but also our parents’ generation as well.
We can all only plan ahead so much, we can set our life goals only so high, so that it gives us a sense of
reassurance that we can achieve those very goals, and very plans that we have set in place from day one. I,
for one, had those very same plans, those very same goals. But as my English professor back in high school
told me, we have to walk or run on our life’s path, no matter where that takes us.
It just so happened that my life path brought me here to Armenia. It’s been already a little more than a year
since I’ve moved (April 2011), and there are moments I look back, sometimes jokingly reminding my wife
(whom I subsequently met here back in the summer of ’07) about the obstacles I went through, both personally and professionally, that have brought me to where I am now. I’m not going to sit here and tell you to
move to Armenia, nor however will I say be complacent with where you are in life (both professionally and
physically).
I grew up in the 90s, and it was a good time to be a kid back then. However we’re all living in the 21st
century now, and that big world that we learned about back in our school days is a much smaller, and much
more diverse place than we thought it could be back then. Our lives are much more like unpredictable roller
coasters nowadays, than the comfortable life we all yearned for.
Let me tell you however, no matter where you are, or what you do, situations are going to be presented
in your life that will compel you to do things that, if you were asked a year or two prior, you would have
definitely said “no” to. I’m telling you this, not as an Armenian, not as an American, but as a human being.
With that said, don’t be afraid to take a leap, don’t be afraid to start something that you won’t know how to
finish, don’t be scared about the uncertainties, and definitely don’t go into an adventure looking for those
“guarantees.” Nothing in this life is a “guarantee.” Instead, when that time comes, when that moment
begins, face it, seize the day, and start that journey. Whether it’s in Armenia, Russia, Europe, Asia, South
America, Africa, or the U.S., let the physical boundaries of a country not have an effect on you; after all,
globalization has already begun.
Ever since coming to Armenia during my senior class trip back in 2003 (I was attending a private Armenian
school at the time), I have always felt its mystery and intrigue that has brought me back here ever since. I
am just lucky enough this time around to savor it, to grasp that contribution which I make at work - trying
to bring Western ideals to a country which has been Eastern-dominated throughout almost all of its history.
It’s not an easy thing to do, and it doesn’t always have a pretty ending, but at the end of the day, I feel my
contribution to society here… something I didn’t feel back in Los Angeles, where life was all but what I had
expected it to be.
I don’t even know what I want to convey, because after living in Armenia for more than a year, all I can say to
people thinking about the move is to just take the leap. If you want to move to Europe to try something new,
try it out. Basically, don’t put limitations on yourself, because your future is dictated by your actions. So
next time you sit and ponder what you could do instead of what you’re doing now, think outside the box, and
be prepared for the above mentioned roller coaster ride, because globalization and its recent phenomena
of bringing people to places far and wide is entering every city and hometown from Los Angeles to Yerevan.
And you have to do is to embrace that fact and strive to gain from it – financially, professionally, as well as
physically.
I wish you all continued success, no matter where you are or what you do. Just don’t be afraid of the
uncertainties that we all face in the 21st century. I, for one, will keep running on my path, no matter where
it takes me.
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ALUMNI CAREER MILESTONES
As alumni numbers grow, now 700 of you,
we will proudly continue to feature your career
milestones and achievements.
Please remember to share with us
your successes, keeping in mind that
no story is too small to share.
Armenia and Me
Edwin Mirzayans (Bars Media, ‘11)
When I arrived in Armenia on August 12th
of last year I had no idea that I would still be
here nine months later. I can’t tell you my
main reason for staying. What I do know is
that I felt good on the inside for making that
decision. I pondered deep within myself as
to what I would do while in Armenia, and the
answer came to me almost immediately: I was
going to be a volunteer. I had heard about
Birthright Armenia through my brother, and I
knew that they were going to give me the best
volunteering experience in Armenia.
As a Birthright Armenia volunteer, I got a great
taste of Armenia. I do not think I would have
gotten the same experience otherwise. I saw
the true beauty of Armenia. I got to breath in
the freshness of Armenia’s nature, and hike
her powerful mountains. I saw the ancient
churches that my ancestors had build with their
bare hands. And most of all, I got to see a land
that was once in the hands of another nation.
The stories I heard, and the people I met ignited
a fire within me to do great things for my people
and my country.
Armenia is not just what’s located in its capital
city of Yerevan; it is a country that exposes its
soul to you. You have to know where to go
to find her soul. As a volunteer at Birthright I
saw and felt the true beauty of my homeland. I
became educated about where this country
came from and where it is headed. There is a
lot of hard work that still needs to be done, but
there are Diaspora Armenians like me who want
to work towards the greatness of this country,
our country, my Armenia.
Our first congratulations to
Arman Sarvarian (AYLA
‘05) for successfully defending his doctoral thesis,
entitled ‘Professional Ethics at the International Bar’,
and receiving his Ph.D. in
public international law by
University College London
in April 2012. Arman was recently elected as Chairman
of the Council of the newly-established Saint Sarkis
Church Parish in London.
In September 2012, Arman will commence employment as a lecturer in Law at the University of
Surrey in Guildford in the UK.
Fellow alum Sara Sarkisian (Habitat for Humanity ’06) is now a licensed architect and interior designer in the state of Illinois, USA. She
passed all seven architectural licensing exams
and completed the required internship hours
in order to earn her licenses. Because of this
achievement, she was promoted to Project
Architect at PHN Architects in Aurora, Illinois.
Sara always looks back fondly on her time with
Birthright. Whenever anyone sees her resume,
the first thing they want to talk about is her work at
David Hotston Architects in Yerevan!
Since her experience with Birthright Armenia,
Svetlana Arakelyan (AVC ‘07) graduated with
High Honors from the University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor, in 2008 and received her Master’s in Social
Sciences from the University of Chicago. Svetlana
then moved to Washington DC, where she worked
at the Library of Congress while participating in the Capital Gateway Fellowship Program with
the Armenian National Committee of America. Svetlana
recently accepted a new
position with a major social
science research center in
Chicago.
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On the legal front in Los Angeles, fellow alum Edgar Martirosyan (AVC ‘05) was
granted the honor of admission to practice in front of the United States Supreme
Court!
In New Jersey, Yetvart S. Majian (AVC ‘08) and
Hasmig Tatiossian (AVC ‘08) founded SARTONK
in 2009, after returning from volunteering in
Armenia. Their tireless work to protect Yetvart’s
grandfher’s legacy as the creator of modern
championship boxing belts paid off with the
news that his grandfather, Ardash Sahaghian, will
be inducted this year into the New Jersey Boxing
Hall of Fame. He will be the first craftsman to
achieve this honor.
Among other news, SARTONK created HyeFighter’s first championship BicepBelt -- an award
worn around the bicep of the recipient. HyeFighters is the only Armenian entity dedicated
to reporting about and supporting Armenian athletes in the combative sports.
SARTONK continues to create the championship boxing belts used in the industry today,
as well as design new models. To learn more about the company and see the latest pictures
(including Manny Pacquaio and Freddy Roach autographing their SARTONK original), check
out www.facebook.com/sartonk and www.twitter.com/sartonk. They’d love your support!
In France, Anouch Chahbenderian (Sarafian)
(DAC ‘05) has just built her own
company of Event Styling, called ‘Epouse-moi
Cocotte’. You can have a look at her website
and facebook page to see what Anouch is up to.
A bit further to the east in Europe, after completing her MA program in Automatic Control and Computer
Science in Bucharest, Hasmig Danielian (AVC ‘07) is now working for Honeywell in Romania.
And finally, alum Ani Colekessian (AVC ’08) was recently the
guest speaker at the Young Minds Lecture Series in Toronto presenting the topic of Sexual and Reproductive Health in
Armenia.
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THREE ALUMNI GET FULBRIGHT SCHOLARSHIPS!
Receiving a U.S. Fulbright Grant is not an easy task, but when you have three alums receiving the
award in the same year, that’s something to celebrate! Ani Jilozian (AVC ‘07), Leah McCloskey
(LCO ‘10) and Raffi Wartanian (AYF ‘07), form the trio that will spend a year in Armenia starting
this fall!
Ani is in the process of completing her master’s degree at Mount Sinai School of Public Health in
NY. She will be writing her thesis based on her work in Armenia. Her research seeks to explore
the nuances and complexities underlying abortion practices in Armenia, in the hopes of better
understanding the context surrounding abortion-seeking behavior to help develop intervention
strategies to tackle the unmet need for family planning. During her stay in Armenia Ani will be
working closely with the faculty and students at the American University of Armenia.
Leah will do architectural research in Armenia. Her project focuses on the Tatev Revival project.
Raffi will pursue research interests related to civil society in Armenia while continuing to grow and
continue to produce work as a writer and musician.
ALUMNI ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS
We are always proud to hear about the academic achivements of
our alumni. Below we share the news from some of
our alums, who have recently graduated or been
accepted to a university.
If your name is missing from this list, let us know.
Christine Serdjenian (AVC ‘08) graduated
with a Master degree in Higher Education from
Harvard University this May. She then traveled
to Armenia as a Luys Foundation scholar to work
with both the Luys Foundation and at the American University of Armenia, and trained with the
Armenian women’s national football team while in
Yerevan for the month of June. She will be back
in New York City as of July, applying for collegiate
administration positions and looking forward to
her wedding in August.
With an MS in Human Nutrition, Mary Ajamian (AVC ‘08), has
recently graduated from Columbia University Institute of Human
Nutrition, College of Physicians and Surgeons. Mary is continuing her thesis research at Columbia University Medical Center.
Her projects have a primary focus on neuroimmunology
and psychiatric disorders. They include investigating the role of
autoimmunity in autism as well as determining immune reactivity
to gluten (wheat protein) and casein (milk protein) in patients with
autism and schizophrenia.
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Sima Cunningham (AVC ‘10) graduated from NYU’s Gallatin
School of Individualized Study this May. She received the Leo
Bronstein Award for interdisciplinary achievement in the arts. She
also received the Dean’s Award for Graduating Seniors, a small
grant that will enable her to travel to the Caucasus to carry out
her project: a music and arts festival in the region. At the Yankee
Stadium commencement, she was featured in the
program as an exemplary Gallatin student and they did a writeup on her projects in Armenia.
Sima is currently in Rio de Janeiro with RIO+20 summit. She
is there as a goodwill ambassador for Arts for Peace. This
fall Sima will be in Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia attending a
number of festivals and working on her project.
Christian Millian (ATP ‘05) graduated from
Harvard University with a Masters of Arts in Near
Eastern Languages & Civilizations last month.
He has been accepted into a PhD program at
Harvard in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations beginning in September.
Two alums received their Doctor of Pharmacy
degrees! Sofia Mnjoyan (AAA ‘09) from the
University of Texas, and Narineh Avanessi
(CYMA ’07) from the University of California, San
Francisco.
Talar Tatarian (AVC
‘07), just completed
her MD degree at
George
Washington University, with
residency plans in
General Surgery at
Thomas
Jefferson
University Hospital in
Philadelphia, PA.
Receiving her BA
in Psychology from
Loyola University
Maryland is Talin
Afarian (AYF ‘11).
Lara A. Townzen (left)
(ICHD ‘11) graduated
with a B.A. in International Studies from
Emory
University,
with highest honors.
Avo John Kambourian (Bars Media ‘09)
just earned a B.A.
in
Communications
from the University of
California, San Diego.
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And another MD, this
time from the University of Buenos Aires in
Argentina, is alum
Cecilia Karagueuzian
(AVC ‘09).
Vartges Saroyan (NY
ASA ‘04) is the latest alum
lawyer, recently graduating
with a J.D. from the Cardozo
School of Law.
Princeton Theological
Seminary recently graduated alum Haig Kherlopian
(AAA ‘07) with a Masters
of Divinity Degree.
With a double major in History and
Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Rupen Janbazian (AVC ‘11)
completed an Honours Bachelor of
Arts from the University of Toronto.
He is interning at the Mission of
Armenia to the UN in NY this July.
Chloe Ghoogassian (AVC
‘11) just graduated from
UCLA with a Communication
Studies degree. She will be
attending UC Hastings Law
School in the fall.
Armine Bagdasaryan (AVC
‘11) completed her studies at
the University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s degree
in Health and Humanity.
Marina Nazarbekian (AAA
‘04) passed the CA Bar
exam this year and was
admitted to practice as an
attorney.
Garric Nahapetian (AVC ‘07)
adds to the line of lawyers, with
his J.D. from the University of
Southern California Law School.
Yanina Nersesova (AAA
‘07) earned her Master of
Arts degree from Boston University School of Medicine in
Nutrition and Metabolism.
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Anais Kadian (ATP ‘05)
graduated Law school at McGill University and passed
the Quebec Bar this year.
She will be completing her
articling in Montreal.
Elizabeth Brewster (NPAK
‘06) graduated with her
Masters in Early Childhood
Education from the City
College of New York.
Tamar Najarian (AYF YC
‘11) completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Ryerson University, and will be starting
at Teacher’s College in
Ontario in the fall.
In Missouri Stephen Hagopian (AYF ‘09) earned his Masters degree in Sports Management
from Lindenwood University. He currently works for the St. Louis Rams professional football
team in ticket operations.
Nanor Arakelian (OLA ‘11) has graduated from Bethlehem University with a major in Sociology and a minor in Psychology.
Olga Markarian (AVC ‘08) has just concluded a one-year training program from McGill
University, Faculty of Dentistry’s General Practice Residency Program. She will be ready to
begin private practice as a general dentist in September.
ADMISSIONS
Manuk Avedikyan (AVC ‘11) has been admitted to the American University of Armenia (AUA) Political Science and International Affairs Masters program.
Kristine Jegalian (AVC ‘10), is now a graduate student at the
University of Southern California (USC) in the School of Public Policy,
studying Urban Planning and Public Administration. Kristine will be in
Armenia this summer with the grant from USC’s Institute for Global
Health to research and assess the role of family planning units in the
delivery of contraception.
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Sona Bekmezian (AAA
‘06) will be starting a residency in Orthodontics at
the University of California San Francisco (UCSF)
School of Dentistry in July.
After receiving his B.Sc. in Kinesiology in June 2010 and Registered Holistic Nutritionist in June
2011, Shant Mardirossian (AVC
‘10) has recently been accepted
to the University of Toronto for
studies in Physiotherapy.
Arek Dakessian (OLA ‘10)
is headed to the University
of Edinburgh for an MSc in
Global Social Change for
this coming academic year.
Saro Derian (AVC ‘04) will be starting a part-time Masters in Accounting this fall at the American University.
Lena Ani Rakijian (CYMA ‘ 07) has been accepted to Columbia University for the MS in
Nutrition and Public Health.
Michael S. Manavdjian (ACYOA ‘05) has just been accepted to Columbia University and will
begin a Masters program in International Affairs this fall.
Meredith Derian-Toth (AVC ‘11) has been admitted
into McGill University for studies towards an MA in
Educational Psychology starting this September.
And to conclude, Simon Sarkisian (AYF ‘08) is going
into his second year at Touro University, California medical school. He is on a military scholarship which means
that he also currently is an active duty 2nd Lieutenant in
the United States Army.
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ALUMNI ARTIST
Here is a poem Ashley Howard (AVC ‘10) wrote while in Armenia
about the people who decide to come with Birthright.
We followed the light,
In the distance, we heard the whispers,
Sweetly they called to us
Echoing history through the streets we tread.
We became part of the future
Engrained in the past,
The stories from host families
The birth of hatred
Grew into love,
From the cherished memories planted
In the rain soaked soil.
The pomegranate picture has Ashel’s name on it, which is
Heart Voskanyan
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WEDDINGS & BABIES
We have five newlyweds and four babies to celebrate!
In Montreal, Lalai Manjikian
(AVC ‘05) tied the knot with
Hrair Yapoudjian.
In Armenia at the Sourp
Zoravor Church in Yerevan,
Nigel Sharp (AVC ‘10)
walked down the aisle to
marry Yevgenya Sharp.
In the city of brotherly love,
Philadelphia, alum Ross
Norian (OLA ’09) ties the
knot with Xuexuan Wang.
In Yerevan, tying the knot on
June 23rd at the St. Hripsime church was
Edwin Akopian (AVC ’09) and his wife
Angela Voskerchyan.
Anais Kadian (ATP ‘05) got married last summer in Montreal to Karen Gabrielyan, a
Canadian Armenian originally from Hayastan. One of the fortunate consequences of her
two summer volunteer trips to Armenia, in 2004 and 2005, was that she was able to pick up
Eastern Armenian quite well, an ability that allowed her to meet and fall in love with a
wonderful man back in Canada!
We wish all of you the best in your new lives together!
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And for the new babies, Anouch Chahbenderian
(Sarafian) (DAC ‘05) and husband Vahe were blessed
with little Sipann.
And here is little Nikolaj! He was born on May 2nd to
Brielle Veselsky (YSMU’09) and Robert Zahn.
Sabine Keljik (Chouljian) (AVC ‘05)
and husband Edward are now the proud
parents of baby Aleen, born on June 20th!
And finally, Areg Maghakian (AVC
’07) and Nyree Abrahamian (AVC
’07) are the latest Birthright couple to
be blessed with their first child, Arame,
born in Toronto on June 26th.
Best wishes to the growing families with lost of cheers and good health!
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STAFF CORNER
Our numbers are growing, and not only have we hit the 100th participant mark, but we’re
already up to 135 and counting for 2012. We see two reasons behind this jump; first, the
great work our growing number of active alumni is doing in various countries, and second, our
targeted social media campaigns across the world over the past year and a half. We’re working
together as one large global team and the results are showing!
As an example, our work in the large communities of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus has paid
important dividends, with over 10 participants from those countries this year. And we will soon
host our first participant from Italy. Benvenuto!
In other news, the echoes of “I am interested in finding employment in Armenia, how
can I be made aware of and be connected to the opportunities?” are heard more
often nowadays. A large number of you are in Hayastan this summer, many being connected
with such opportunities. It is becoming more and more possible for you to find rewarding,
career enhancing choices here, and the physical silos are transforming to a more global outlook when it comes to employment choices. Those interested are encouraged to send in their
resumes, with a letter of intent, and we will continue to do our best to match you with the
growing number of opportunities.
THE QUIZ
We are getting record participation now, and great to see many of you
getting perfect scores. When that happens, we pick the winner through a
lottery.
The winner
Abrahamian
of the last
(AVC
‘07),
quiz is
whose
our new mom,
correct
answers
Nyree
were:
1.
What is the name of the cave and the region of Armenia
where the oldest (5,500-year-old) leather shoe, known to contemporary
archaeologists, found? (Areni-1 cave, Vayots Dzor Region)
2.
What is the name of Armenia’s only Gold Medal winner at the Olympics? (Armen Nazaryan)
3.
What is the name of the film by a famous Armenian director, which
visually portrays the life of Armenian ashugh Sayat-Nova? (The Color of
Pomegranates)
Here are the questions for the next quiz:
1.
Where is this column (see the photo), and what was it
designed to do?
2.
Armenia
has
four
neighboring
countries.
Which
of
them
has
the
most
neighboring
countries?
3.
What is the name of the first Armenian female diplomat and where
was she stationed? Hint: she served the Republic of Armenia in 1918.
As always, e-mail all answers to [email protected] and
the winner will earn a $25 gift certificate for www.amazon.com.
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Famous Figure – Luther Simjian
Luther George Simjian was a lifelong innovator whose inventions include the self-focusing camera,
a flight speed indicator for airplanes, an automatic postage metering machine, teleprompter, Range
Estimation Trainer and contributions to the evolution of the Bankmatic automatic teller machine (ATM).
Simjian was born in Turkey on January 28, 1905. As a young child he developed a keen interest in optics and photography. After World War I he was separated from his family. He fled to Beirut, then on to
Marseille, and eventually to the United States. At age 15 he arrived in the U.S. alone, and went to New
Haven, Connecticut, where he stayed with relatives and found self-sufficiency through a job with a photographer. Simjian originally intended to study medicine, but changed his mind after the medical school
at Yale gave him a job in its photographic laboratory. In 1928 he was named director of the photography
department at the medical school, and he soon developed a way of projecting microscopic images and
photographing specimens under water.
In 1934 Simjian moved to New York, where he developed a color X-ray machine and a self-posing
portrait camera. Soon after, Simjian founded Reflectone and established a company to license and
manufacture the camera for use in department store studios.
When Simjian initially came up with the idea of creating a hole-in-the-wall machine that would allow
customers to make financial transactions, the idea was met with a great deal of skepticism. Starting in
1939, Simjian registered 20 patents related to the device and persuaded what is now Citicorp to give it
a trial. After six months, the bank reported that there was little demand. Later, of course, the idea caught
on, and today, modern versions of the automatic teller machine stand on nearly every street corner.
Simjian remained President and Chairman of Reflectone for 22 years, until the company merged with
Universal Match Corp. in 1961. It was sold again in 1996 to British Aerospace. Meanwhile Simjian
formed two other companies, General Research and Command Automation, to help to capitalize on
his other inventions, which included a remote-controlled postage meter, a meat tenderizer and an ultrasound device for use in hospitals. He also patented an indoor golf practice range. Toward the end of
his life Simjian built a small research and development lab in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and continued
inventing until his death on October 23, 1997.
15

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