YEREVAN–The Glendale Ghapan Sister City Association-sponsored visit of an official delegation from the City of Glendale began its inaugural visit to the Republic of Armenia October 4–with visits to a number of sites–including the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex–Dzidzernagapert–the Holy Cathedral of Etchmiadzin–as well as Lake Sevan.
In addition–on the first day of official visits–the delegation met with Armenian dignitaries and members of the American diplomatic corps–including US Ambassador John Ordway.
During the weekend tour of Yerevan and the surroundings–the delegation had the opportunity to pay its respects to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide and lay flowers at the Dzidzernagapert Memorial’s eternal flame. The group also went on a guided tour of the Genocide Museum.
"Our visit to the Genocide Monument reinforced in me the importance of honoring history–and ensuring that such crimes against humanity never occur again," explained Glendale City Manager James E. Starbird–one of the high ranking officials in the delegation.
Delegation members visited Lake Sevan in the Gegharkunik Province of Armenia–where they had the opportunity to explore some of the Armenian countryside–and visit the ancient Sevanavank monastery complex on the Sevan Peninsula.
That same evening–delegation members were the guests of honor at a private reception where they learned about the various US government sponsored development programs currently underway in Armenia.
On Sunday–the delegation visited the Sardarabad monument and museum–built on the site of one of the decisive battles for Armenia’s independence in the beginning of the 20th Century. Following a traditional Armenian luncheon and exposure to world-renowned Armenian hospitality and cultural entertainment–the delegates paid a visit to the Holy See of Etchmiadzin–the residence of His Holiness Karekin II–Catholicos of All Armenia’s. The time spent at the Mother See included a rare tour of the Catholicosate’s collection of church relics and other precious artifacts gifted to the Holy See.
"The Holy See museum must be one of the most awe inspiring collections of religious and cultural artifacts anywhere–and our delegation felt honored to have had the chance to tour the facilities and to be witness to the centuries-old traditions of the Armenian Apostolic Church," said Glendale City Councilmember Rafi Manoukian–who initiated the Glendale Ghapan Sister City relationship.
October 6 marked the first official day of meetings–beginning with a press conference with Armenian national media representatives. Taking part in the press conference were Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero–Glendale City Councilmember Rafi Manoukian–Glendale Unified School District Board of Education President Pam Ellis–Glendale Community College Board of Trustees member Ara James Najarian–as well as Glendale Ghapan Sister City Association Director Artin Manoukian.
Later in the day–the delegation also held meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian–and Minister of Social Security Aghvan Vartanian. At the meetings delegation members briefed the Armenian government officials on the Armenian American community of Glendale–and learned about the overall economic–socio-political and cultural landscape of Armenia. The Armenian officials and delegates exchanged commemorative gifts–and pledged to continue to work together on issues of mutual concern–particularly in relation to the Glendale Ghapan Sister City initiative.
Also on Monday–US Ambassador and Mrs. John Ordway hosted a tea reception for the delegation at their residence. Officers from the US Embassy as well as representatives of the US Agency for International Development and other members of the diplomatic mission to Armenia discussed with the delegates the many areas of US activity and opportunities for cooperation in Armenia. A video presentation of an Embassy-sponsored film on Armenian economic and political progress was followed by an in-depth question and answer session.
"We are honored to have been greeted so warmly by Ambassador Ordway–his wife and his staff," said Artin Manoukian–President of the Glendale Ghapan Sister City Association. "We appreciate that the Ambassador champions Diasporan involvement in Armenia–and we hope that our project and our programs become a success story in that regard."
The delegation is scheduled to embark on its inaugural trip to the City of Ghapan in the Syunik Province on October 7. Members of the delegation will meet with Ghapan City officials as well as representatives of the provincial government of Syunik.
The Glendale Ghapan delegation members include Frank Quintero–Mayor–City of Glendale; Rafi Manoukian–Councilmember–City of Glendale; James E. Starbird–City Manager–City of Glendale; Zizette Ayad–Senior Administrative Analyst–City of Glendale; Armine Hacopian–President–Board of Trustees–Glendale Community College; Steve White–Vice President of Academic Affairs and Curriculum–Glendale Community College; Ara James Najarian–member–Board of Trustees–Glendale Community College; Paul Schlossman–Dean of Student Affairs–Glendale Community College; Pam Ellis–President–Board of Education–Glendale Unified School District; Greg Krikorian–Vice-President–Board of Education–Glendale Unified School District; Leroy Sherman–Co-Principal–Glendale High School; Albert Karamanoukian–physician and entrepreneur; Haigoush Keghinian-Kohler–community activist; Arpi Andonian–Vice-President of Operations–Daylight Adult Day Health Care Center; Mike Tcholakian–businessman and entrepreneur; Edwin Minassian–businessman and entrepreneur; Lena Bozoyan–member–Organizing Committee–Glendale Ghapan Sister City Association; Pierre Chraghchian–Treasurer–Glendale Ghapan Sister City Association; Artin Manoukian–President–Glendale Ghapan Sister City Association.