Earlier this fall, the Chicago “Christapor” chapter of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and the Hamazkayin Cultural and Educational Association of Chicago sponsored a book presentation and signing with author Knarik O. Meneshian. The event was held in October at the Shahnasarian Hall and Community Center in Glenview, Illinois and featured Meneshian’s book, A place called Gyumri: life in the Armenian mountains.
The evening began with introductory remarks by Armen Papazian, president of the Hamazkayin Association of Chicago, followed by opening prayers from Reverend Vahan Kouyoumdjian. Vana Dakarian sang the American and Armenian national anthems. Armine Papazian spoke briefly about the author and his work. Oscar Tatosian, Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Armenia in and around Chicago, followed by Paruir Sarkisian, Senior Consulate Advisor, and ARF Chicago President Hagop Soulakian, all spoke about Meneshian, his work and his his many years as a contributor to Armenian Weekly. Chicago’s Hamazkayin Sardarabad Dance Ensemble, conducted by Hrachya Kostanyan and assisted by Sahak Zakarian, performed a dance in honor of Gyumri. Arpy Seferian organized the elegant reception.
Before Meneshian began her three-part presentation – intro, showing photos, and reading passages from her book – she thanked everyone who organized the event and the audience for attending the evening’s program. She also expressed her gratitude to Dr Khatchig Mouradian, former editor of Armenian Weekly, who encouraged her to write a book soon after she began submitting a series of articles on Gyumri, as well as to the Hairenik Association for its publication. A place called Gyumri, his second book published by them. All profits from the book are donated to the Hairenik association.
In her introduction, Meneshian briefly spoke of the devastation in the earthquake zone following the 1988 Spitak earthquake. She described the plight of the people when she and a small group of Armenian Relief Society members ( ARS) traveled to Gyumri, then to Leninakan, in 1990, on a humanitarian mission, and in 1991 when she was a volunteer teacher in the village of Jrashen. , next to Spitak and not far from Gyumri. She spoke of the hardships people endured in the earthquake zone during these extremely difficult, uncertain and dark years when people’s lives were turned upside down and turned upside down. Meneshian said the book is not only a story of survival and triumph, interspersed with historical information, but also a snapshot of the daily life of a people who lost so much, yet gradually began to rebuild. their shattered lives, their homes and their city under the most difficult conditions. She added that the book includes the experiences of two volunteer teachers from the diaspora and describes the different festivals, how funerals are observed and weddings celebrated, how classes are held and where some of the historic areas are located. “Also included,” Meneshian said, “examples of what life was like under Soviet rule, as well as the positive and negative aspects of human nature.”
After briefly discussing the photos displayed on the screen, she read passages from the book and concluded her presentation with a quote from the book: “I opened my notebook full of favorite quotes and read Willian Penn’s. : the world only once. Any good, then, that I can do, or any kindness or ability that I can show any creature, let me do it now. May I not delay or neglect it, for I will not go this way again. ‘ ”
Reverend Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan of St. James Armenian Church in Evanston, Illinois then performed the traditional Armenian Book Blessing Ceremony known as kinetson with prayers and red wine. (The priest says a prayer in front of the author. Then the priest asks the author to open the book and slowly pours wine over the pages.) Tatosian graciously provided the Armenian red Tushpa and white Koor wines for the reception. and the book blessing ceremony.
A number of people from the surrounding communities and neighboring state of Wisconsin, including members of the clergy, as well as non-Armenians, attended the presentation and signing of the book. After the program, the author received a bouquet of roses.
On Sunday, November 21, 2021, the presentation and signing of Meneshian’s second book took place at Sts. Joachim and Anne Armenian Apostolic Church in Palos Heights, Illinois. The presentation followed the church service and lunch. Reverend Tavit Boyajian introduced the author to the audience. After a question-and-answer period, Boyajian presented the author with a book by His Holiness Karekin I of blessed memory, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.