Hayern Aysor presents the interview with President of the Armenian Center of the Armenian community in Argentina and Director for Institutional Relations Juan Sarafian.
Hayern Aysor: Mr. Sarafian, I could see how excited you are about your visit to Armenia right from the start of our interview. Could you share your impressions?
Juan Sarafian: My longtime dream finally came true. This past summer, I visited Armenia for the first time ever. I had always thought of coming, but it would never work out due to my busy schedule. My friends and relatives in Argentina would tell me that I would return with great impressions, and that was exactly the case.
I admired the nature in Armenia, the sites worth seeing, as well as the kind people with smiles on their faces. I was more than happy to see a progressive and advanced country, but the people need to aspire for more and work together to make Armenia a better country.
Hayern Aysor: What made you decide to serve the community?
Juan Sarafian: I have been serving the community for the past 13 years now. I graduated from the ARF-D Khrimyan Educational Institution, which used to have 700 students and became the best smithy for preservation of the Armenian identity for us. This wasn’t the only motive. I was one of the students of Prime Minister of the First Republic of Armenia Simon Vratsyan. He conveyed his patriotism and spirit of boldness to me, and this made me decide to become involved in pro-national activities, dedicating myself to the idea of helping the Homeland. This is the kind of atmosphere I grew up in. Since childhood, I have felt the air of patriotism in our home.
I have been the chairman of the Armenian Center of Buenos Aires for five years and have been elected three consecutive times. My family members have also been members of the Armenian Center, and my father and grandfathers have also been involved in pro-national activities.
Hayern Aysor: Now let’s talk about the Armenian Center.
Juan Sarafian: First of all, there are educational, youth, charitable and women’s organizations that are under the umbrella of the Armenian Center and carry out community events. We work closely with the St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church of Buenos Aires. We are especially focused on making sure young Armenians of Argentina preserve their identity and stay clung to their roots. We carry out various kinds of programs through which the young Armenians of Argentina visit Armenia, visit historic and cultural sites and become connected to their Homeland.
In fact, the young Armenians of Argentina are very patriotic. They simply need support and guidance. They think about receiving higher and quality education so that they become good people and help Armenia. We also collaborate with the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Argentina.
In a word, the Armenian Center tries to consolidate the Armenians of Argentina around Armenia.
Hayern Aysor: How is public and cultural life in the Armenian community of Argentina?
Juan Sarafian: I can definitely say that the Armenian community of Argentina stands out with its consolidation, as well as dedicated and hard-working members. We are all concerned about the future of Armenia and try to make our contribution to the country’s advancement.
Pan-Armenian organizations and traditional Armenian political parties have their offices in Argentina. There are also Armenian dance groups. We also celebrate national, church and state holidays and carry out various kinds of cultural events to foster preservation of Armenian culture and popularize Armenian culture among foreigners.
The constant ties with Armenia highly contribute to the community’s viability and durability. The Armenian Apostolic Church and faithful clergymen play an unforgettable role in preserving the Armenian identity and consolidating the Armenians of Argentina around the Church.
Hayern Aysor: Mr. Sarafian, how would you describe the foundations of the cooperation between the RA Ministry of Diaspora and the Armenian community of Argentina?
Juan Sarafian: I think the cooperation is laid on strong foundations since we actively participate in the programs of the Ministry. I hope the partnership becomes stronger in the future.
Months ago, Minister Hranush Hakobyan paid working visits to Argentina and Brazil. During her visit to Argentina, she had effective meetings with representatives of various organizations of the Armenian community of Argentina, was introduced to the current challenges and suggested finding paths to solve all the issues through combined efforts. I must also mention the fact that Minister of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia Hranush Hakobyan also excited us all. Such visits are very important.