NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—Students and guests gathered on March 5 at California State University, Northridge for a public forum regarding Javakhk, a historically Armenian region in modern day Georgia. The ARS Javakhk Fund Committee, CSUN Armenian Student Association (ASA), and the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region joined efforts to organize the forum, with the purpose of educating students about the history of Javakhk and the current state of the Armenian population in the region, especially because many students shared that this was their first time hearing about Javakhk.
CSUN ASA Board Member Lia Kechichian welcomed guests and introduced panelists ANCA-WR Communications Coordinator Dickran Khodanian and ARS Javakhk Fund Committee member Carnie Armenian. Among attendees were ARS Regional Executive Board Member Nancy Bederian, ARS Javakhk Fund Committee Chairperson Lena Bozoyan, as well as educators.
Khodanian provided a historical introduction on Javakhk, after which he spoke about the strategic significance of the region. Thereafter, Armenian explained the challenges faced by Javakhk Armenians including institutionalized oppression from the Georgian government, lack of employment opportunities and emigration, and difficult living conditions. Armenian discussed the varied living conditions from the cities and towns of Javakhk to its rural villages and how each group of counselors at Camp Javakhk were embraced by the locals.
Both Khodanian and Armenian have served as counselors and directors at Camp Javakhk, which is held every summer in different cities in Javakhk including Akhalkalak, Akhaltskha, Ninostminda, and Tsalka. They shared that through their time and experiences there, they learned more about the local customs of the people and daily living challenges, but most importantly they made strong connections with the people of Javahk and formed unbreakable bonds.
The camps are held at the Armenian youth centers in the cities, two of which are supported by the efforts of the ARS of Western USA’s Javakhk Fund Committee. They both stressed the significance of the centers as it is a place where the youth gathers to learn about their Armenian culture and history, which is not permitted to be taught in the local Georgian schools.
On the occasion of Javakhk Awareness Month in March, the committee aims to educate the community about this historically Armenian region and stresses the importance of continued support. The ARS Javakhk Fund Committee continues to collect funds for the youth centers to ensure the continuation of vital programs and services provided for the people of Javakhk.