Part of that living context involves helping others – “the best way to develop confidence” as a people and as individuals, Mr. Arzruni assured his listeners.

Besides being a renowned master pianist, composer, producer, recording artist, and ethnomusicologist, Mr. Arzruni is also a font of knowledge about the Armenian heritage. During his Khrimian Lyceum talk, he engaged the students on a variety of topics, from the key figures of Armenian history, to the religious and cultural “turning points” that have made us what we are.

On the topic of how best to maintain a robust sense of Armenian identity, “It’s more practical to choose a direction in life than to predetermine a destination,” he advised. “Keep your language, keep your culture, keep your name intact--in order to keep your identity whole.”

The session gave students an opportunity to conceptualize how their Armenian background factors into the way they define themselves as individuals living outside their homeland, said Gilda Kupelian, director of the Khrimian Lyceum and coordinator of the Diocese’s Armenian Studies section.


Presentation Focuses on Maintaining Armenian Identity

You could have heard a pin drop as Sahan Arzruni played the piano for a group of 25 Armenian high school students attending the Khrimian Lyceum at the Diocesan complex in New York. Mr. Arzruni played Aram Khachaturian’s "In the Folk Idiom" as part of a dynamic presentation to the students on Saturday, February 7: an interactive “crash session” on what it means to be Armenian.

For Mr. Arzruni, being an Armenian “should be a source of self-esteem,” which arises from one’s “knowledge of the past, confidence in the present, and a vision for the future.”

“It is essential to learn about ourselves, our background, our history – even bits and pieces may help us anchor ourselves,” he said. But he also warned that “understanding without the emotive experience is only half the game. Put everything in a living context.”

"Undoubtedly it’s beneficial when students are reminded about the significance of their heritage, and Sahan was so effective in doing so,” she said. “What makes us Armenian and proud of our identity is the faith that anchors us, our unique language, and our rich culture, replete with deep-rooted traditions. Armenian educators are very serious about imparting this reality to our students, who are being groomed to become our leaders of tomorrow.”

The Khrimian Lyceum - a five-year cultural education program of the Eastern Diocese’s Armenian Studies division - meets monthly on Saturdays at the Diocesan Center in New York. Some 32 students are currently enrolled in the New York-based lyceum, and similar programs are running in Boston, Detroit, and Houston.