Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

About us

Hye Sharzhoom is a supplement of The Collegian and the newspaper of the Fresno State Armenian Students Organization and the Armenian Studies Program and is funded by the Associated Students. Articles may be reprinted provided Hye Sharzhoom is acknowledged. Hye Sharzhoom welcomes prose, poetry, articles and other material from its student readers.

For further information concerning the newspaper or the Armenian Studies Program:

Armenian Studies Program
5245 N. Backer Ave. PB4
Fresno, CA 93740-8001
Telephone (559) 278-2669

Current issue
Hye Sharzhoom

Faculty and Students Present Reflections on Armenia Summer Study Program 2023

Barlow DerMugrdechian
Students visited many of the historic sites in Armenia, such as the 7th c. Cathedral of Zvartnots, near Etchmiadzin.

“Many people I know who have been to Armenia express that they felt at home as soon as their plane touched down. While I did not feel that sentiment initially, I felt homesick after leaving,” reflected Careen Derkalousdian, a participant in the Armenia Summer Study Program 2023.

Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian provided an informational presentation for the community when he spoke on “Armenia Summer Study Program 2023: Reflections,” on Friday, October 13, 2023. Student participants on the study program trip also had the opportunity to reflect upon their experiences.

Left to right: Charles Garabedian, Careen Derkalousdian, Carina Tokatian, Julia Eritzian, Christine Pambukyan, Christa Eritzian, Ariana Garabedian, Dustin Vartanian, Michael Mazman, Jonathan Chardukian, and Caleb Arizmendez in front of the Monastery of Haghartsin. (Barlow Der Mugrdechian)

Prof. Der Mugrdechian explained that the Armenian Studies Program first began leading groups of Fresno State students to Armenia in the summer in 1988. Over the course of thirty-five years, there have been one hundred and seven participants in trips that took place in 1988, 1990, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2017, 2019, and 2023. This past summer, eleven students participated in the May 23-June 8 trip: Caleb Arizmendez, Jonathan Chardukian, Careen Derkalousdian, Christa Eritzian, Julia Eritzian, Ariana Garabedian, Charles Garabedian, Michael Mazman, Christine Pambukyan, Carina Tokatian, and Dustin Vartanian.

“There is no other Armenian Studies Program that organizes a trip like ours,” stated Prof. Der Mugrdechian, “Typically, our trip was planned for one day of travel outside the city by bus, and the next day would be spent in the city of Yerevan.” The trip provided students with a first-hand experience based on their courses in the Armenian Studies Program, by immersing them in the environment, by going sight-seeing, and experiencing a balance between tourism and daily life in Armenia.

Prof. Der Mugrdechian gave an overview of the visits to various regions of Armenia, demonstrating the geographical diversity in Armenia. In each region, there were spectacular places to see, whether the Areni-1 caves, monasteries and churches, museums, wineries, or views of the mountains and scenery.

Students were given special tours of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, the Matenadaran Manuscript Library, Yerevan State University, the American University of Armenia, and the Mer Hooys – House of Hope Program.

After the October 13 presentation. Left to right: Carina Tokatian, Careen Derkalousdian, Jonathan Chardukian, Charles Garabedian, Ariana Garabedian, Christine Pambukyan, Caleb Arizmendez, Dustin Vartanian, Christa Eritzian, Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian.

“The Armenia Summer Study Program is a means to providing a culminating experience for our students,” concluded Prof. Der Mugrdechian. “Each student was able to experience Armenia in an individual way and to gain new appreciation for Armenia.”

“The architecture of these churches was unbelievable. I was continuously thinking in my head, how could this structure be built over one thousand years ago? The vaulted ceilings and dome seemed to be so incredibly high up, even taller than the churches at home, yet the technology the builders had was minimal.”

Dustin Vartanian

“I gained a whole new understanding of language and cultural identity during the month I lived in Armenia. I did so many amazing things that I would have never done in my lifetime without this opportunity. I went to churches I have studied in class, I rode on a metro for the first time, I ate a lot of amazing authentic Armenian dishes with family members, and experienced a very walkable city that was awake at different hours then I was used to.”

Caleb Arizmendez

“I still think about the trip often. It was such a unique and eye-opening experience that introduced me to a whole new world of traditions, despite being Armenian myself. I would have to say that the most significant impact on my visit would have to be the financial differences between Armenia and the United States. The reality of how people live in Armenia and other economically similar countries opened my eyes.”

Charles Garabedian

“Before going, I felt as if I would be different because even though it was Armenia, it was a new country. Yes, my Armenian wasn’t perfect and no, I couldn’t always communicate the ideas that I wanted to. But there were a couple of instances where I was pointed out for my eyes. After leaving, I felt as if I belonged and more.”

Ariana Garabedian

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