Delegation to Ghapan Shares Experiences of Visit to Sister City

maria-sandoval
el-vaquero-staff-writer/" class="creditline">MARIA SANDOVAL
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Members of the Glendale-Ghapan Sister International Association, which includes four of GCC’s faculty members, hosted a presentation on their visit to Glendale’s newest sister city, Ghapan, Armenia, to discuss their experiences in the cultural exchange between cities and the delivery of computers to Ghapan schools. The presentation was on May 27 at noon in the Auditorium on campus.

In October 2003, the delegation, including four delegates from GCC, visited the city.

They included Vice President of Instructional Services Steve White, Dean of Student Affairs Paul Schlossman, and board of trustees members Dr. Armine Hacopian and Ara Najarian. The delegation also included Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero and other city officials.

The four members of the college presented a slide show of the various activities that took place in Ghapan during their nine-day visit.

According to the members, they were greeted in the city of Yerevan with tradition by giving them salt and bread. White started the presentation by discussing Armenia’s crucial trade problems.

“There are no seaports; it is landlocked so trade is difficult,” said White. Enemies such as Turkey and Azerbaijan surround it. “There is only trade with Iran at this point,” said White.

The slide show continued showing historical monuments that are located on Italy Boulevard in Yerevan.

One of the monuments included in the slide show was the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Monument. “This monument is to commemorate a massacre that took place in the early 1900s when Turkey killed more than a million Armenians,” said Najarian.

According to Najarian, on April 24 most of the residents of Yerevan come to the monument to leave flowers to remember the day their people were killed, according to Najarian.

Armenians all over the world commemorate this great tragedy on April 24, because it was on that day in 1915 when the killing of thousands of Armenians began.

Eventually, 1.5million people were killed. “What this country saw as an ethnic cleansing and what they considered their property resulted in a march that killed millions of people,” said White, regarding the genocide. According to White it is important that people know about this so it will never happen again.

“There are different phases of a genocide: the decision, the assassination and then denying it,” said Hacopian.

She added that people who live today are affected by it. “The wounds have not been healed so therefore there is no closure,” said Hacopian.
There were also slides of such sites as the Matenadaran Research Institute and the

Sardarabad Museum. The artwork from Matenadaran Research Institute has been preserved for thousands of years. Most of the work is related to the Armenian religion, Christianity. “It is the first culture to accept Christianity as a religion,” said Hacopian. The Sardarabad Museum,” shows Armenian culture and life in the early Armenia,” said Najarian. “This is one of the best museums of the world according to
historians,” said Hacopian.

The Governor of the Syunik region Edik Parseghian and Ghapan Mayor Armen Garbedian were among those to received the delegation on their third day in Armenia.

The Glendale delegation handed over the keys to the city and a flag of Glendale, as well as a plaque registering the relationship between Glendale and Ghapan. The mayor discussed the city’s resources and industrial, educational and cultural means as a main interest and possible areas of cooperation between Glendale and Ghapan, their main focus and connection between eachother. Another relationship between for the Glendale-Ghapan Sister City was to “stimulate environments through which communities will creatively learn, work and solve problems together through reciprocal cultural, educational, municipal, business, professional and technical exchanges and projects” when going to Ghapan, Armenia according to the SCI Web site.

“The reason why Ghapan has economic problems is because it is not a place to have agriculture,” said Hacopian, as they showed the audience pictures of dirt roads and mountains in Ghapan. A sister city is chosen by similar interest and goals between the two cities. Glendale and Ghapan have a large population of the Armenian culture and have similar interests because of that.

The next day the delegation observed the city’s education and health sectors.

They also presented over fifty computers to schools in Ghapan. Besides the computer donation that was given to Ghapan, the GCC fire department is in the process of donating a fire engine to Ghapan but it is still not official,” said Hacopian

Touring north of Yerevan the delegation saw a power plant that generates electricity to Armenia today. “This plant was closed for several years until Armenia was able to generate their own electricity after their independence,” said Najarian.

“This trip was a great learning experience I will never forget,” said White.

Other Glendale sister cities include cities in Japan and Mexico. The Sister City Association offers student programs where they too can participate in a unique combination of citizen activism and support their local community. For more information on the program, log on to www.sister-cities.org.

“The Sister City Association (SCI) is a non-profit citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnership between the United States and International communities to increase global cooperation at the local level,” according to the SCI Web site.

The SCI began shortly after WWII when President Dwight D. Eisenhower wanted to involve individuals and organized groups at all levels of society in citizen diplomacy. He hoped that friendly relationships would form through these sister cities and would lessen the chance of future world conflicts. The association was originally part of The National League of Cities, but in 1967 the SCI became a separate non-profit corporation due to large growth and popularity. There is over 700 cities involved in the Sister City Association according the association’s Web site.