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Our Institutions Cannot Stand Alone, Part II: Closing the Gap

Our Institutions Cannot Stand Alone, Part II: Closing the Gap
Stepan Piligian writes, “Open the doorways, and let the recent air of latest considering replenish our institutions.” (Photograph: St. Karapet Church, Noravank, Wikimedia Commons, Rostom)

The President of Armenia lately commented in an interview concerning the need for all of us to by no means cease studying. So true. Most studying depends on our means to pay attention. The properly is deep with what we will study from each other. The President of Armenia just lately commented in an interview concerning the need for all of us to never stop learning. So true. Most studying depends on our capability to pay attention. My grandfather used to say, “There is a purpose why God gave us twice as many ears as mouths.”

This previous weekend, all of us celebrated Father’s Day. My choice for this present day is straightforward. I need to be with my family and go to the annual church picnic at St. Gregory’s in Indian Orchard—the group where I was born and raised. Although I have been a Bostonian for a few years, that is the place my roots are. That is house. This yr our household as soon as once more loved the spirit of this small Armenian group with a coronary heart of gold.

The chance for enhancing group and institutional participation is all the time on my thoughts. It transcends all features of our diaspora life from individual id to institutional sustainability to the homeland. It is within the small and medium-sized communities where the wrestle for continuance could be very visible. Additionally it is where I all the time study something new about this problem we face as a higher group. It is within the small communities where native economics might restrict an inflow of latest households; that is where shades of ambivalence or absence could be devastating. Smaller communities are remoted from a number of the cultural assets and replenishment of larger communities similar to Boston or New York metro. In fact, this doesn’t exempt the latter from the problem, however it takes on a special dimension. But despite the struggles in these small, venerable communities, general one can find constructive attitudes, heat and power.

In the course of the Sunday afternoon picnic, I spoke with several individuals on this topic which invariably surfaces. When something good begins to wrestle, we all the time ask ourselves…why? Why are our Sunday Faculties weaker? Why is church attendance down? Why are our youth not becoming a member of institutions as much as their mother and father? The tragedy and the dilemma is that longtime devoted people expertise this decline and really feel powerless to reverse it. That is where leadership is needed to revive hope.

I want to share two conversations I had, what I discovered and how it presents me hope. Whereas enjoying my kebab dinner, I sat next to an aged man I’ve recognized all my life. He is among the best individuals I have recognized—devoted, variety and artistic. He looked at me and stated, “Take a look at all of the individuals here right now. A lot of younger faces who are native. In the event that they came more typically, just think about how a lot better issues can be.” He was not complaining. His tone was more targeted on a chance. We instantly engaged in a short dialogue on why. Why will we see them socializing at a picnic or bazaar, but not collaborating in group establishments or shifting from the periphery?

In fact all the usual challenges are there: secular society, intermarriage and time allocation. However there are also successes from the same generational pool. We concluded that there stays some thread of id. They came for a purpose. Perhaps the meals, however in all probability extra. We have now all met individuals who have been raised locally, the place the seeds of their heritage have been planted. Typically they blossom. Typically they go dormant solely to awaken with some connection later in life. As a group, we will never hand over on our wandering flock. We have to be prepared to offer the stimulus by way of progressive packages and relationships that may re-awaken what’s sleeping.

I say relationships because lots of our establishments fulfill a social want. “I’ve my associates at church.” “I really like working with my colleagues at the ABGU.” “The Knights of Vartan presents me a chance to work on essential tasks with like-minded individuals.” “AIWA has helped me develop as an Armenian lady.” All of those are typical feedback on the benefits of participation. It goes past the mission of the group. Small communities are closely relationship-dependent as a result of they don’t sometimes have entry to the larger infrastructure. They’ve discovered to make due with less. I walked away from that conversation having discovered something concerning the dynamics of participation and new concepts on making connections.

every of us must internalize that we will make a distinction.

Later within the afternoon, I wandered over to the grilling space, which is often a superb source of dialog. I talked with a gentleman from the Hartford group who has family regionally. I have recognized him to be a critical Armenian American who’s deeply involved about most of the group dynamics I’ve addressed on this column. The Larger Hartford group is comprised of three Apostolic church buildings: two in New Britain (one Prelacy and one Diocese) and a Diocesan church in Hartford. All three are on the small to medium measurement. He was sharing his concern concerning the lack of cultural exercise in the area. Apparently, the overall group has carried out surveys asking group members for feedback on their wants and their views on how one can improve the vibrancy of the church life.

There was consensus that cultural programming was wanted and needed, but lacking. The first constraint is that no single parish has the assets to usher in this sort of activity to the overall Hartford space. Lately they shaped a committee from all three communities to deal with these needs. They are hoping to convey a dance or vocal group to the world for a group efficiency. Right here is an instance of a brand new form of group participation: the “unified” efforts to convey our widespread tradition to the group and foster much-needed relationships. As time has healed the injuries of our division, many communities are rebuilding these fractured relationships by way of joint ventures. Motivated by a capability to do extra once we work as one, this opens up a whole new area of larger group participation—one that many have an extended held ardour for. Since disunity is likely one of the “flip off” elements, especially within the emerging era, they could inspire others to turn out to be extra lively in our institutions. I applaud the efforts of those within the Hartford-New Britain communities for his or her courage and dedication to creating a better setting.

What I have discovered and what continues to be re-enforced each day is that participation is a worth greatest instilled by mother and father via position modeling. But I’ve also discovered that it is never too late for these connections to happen. As youngsters, we study from our mother and father. As adults, we develop expertise and interests that can serve as a connection to group. These expertise are presents granted from God. Sharing them is pure expectation. Additionally it is clear that our individuals are resilient and artistic in sustaining our sense of group. Reaching out to those who might have drifted or who are looking is a key component of creating a stronger surroundings. It is all about making connections. Aligning the talents and interests of people with the wants of our group is the definition of institutional sustainability.

So what can we do to improve the results? At the beginning, each of us needs to internalize that we will make a distinction. Whether you are a leader in your group, one in every of many volunteers contributing your piece to the puzzle or someone at present on the sidelines wanting in, your actions (or inaction) may have an adjacent influence.

Last week I mentioned that solely about 46 % of respondents to the Diaspora Survey have been “typically” volunteers in establishments of the group, whereas one other 27 % responded “typically.” On the similar time, 68 % of the east coast respondents determine as “Armenian” or “Armenian American.” The opposite choices subordinate the Armenian id. What this says is that although lower than half are lively locally, almost seven out of ten determine as Armenians. That gap is the chance. It illustrates that individually most Armenians determine with their heritage, however many do not apply that id locally construction. The reasons for this are usually not shocking but are necessary. Whether it is lack of time (which is one other approach to say it is less essential) or the image they see isn’t engaging, breaking by means of those limitations is the important thing to growing the 46 %.

This is troublesome however crucial work. It requires all of us to look into the mirror and ask ourselves to define our dedication to the id we claim. It additionally requires our leaders and determination makers to be prepared to adapt and institute change where applicable to change the paradigm. Give those on the periphery a unique picture. Surveys are ineffective until we do one thing with the info. Main establishments must be digesting the content and instituting packages to deal with the chance. Another survey in three to 5 years can be helpful, but when we move ahead, it is going to be visibly evident within the brief time period. Open the doors, and let the recent air of latest considering replenish our establishments.

Stepan Piligian

Stepan was raised in the Armenian group of Indian Orchard, MA at the St. Gregory Parish. A former member of the AYF Central Government and the Japanese Prelacy Government Council, he also served many years as a delegate to the Japanese Diocesan Meeting. Presently , he serves as a member of the board and government committee of the Nationwide Association for Armenian Research and Research (NAASR). He also serves on the board of the Armenian Heritage Basis. Stepan is a retired government within the pc storage business and resides within the Boston space together with his wife Susan. He has spent many years as a volunteer instructor of Armenian history and modern points to the young era and adults at faculties, camps and churches. His pursuits embrace the Armenian diaspora, Armenia, sports and reading.

Stepan Piligian

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