Talin D. Artinian, MEd, Principal of Taniel Varoujan Armenian School, of Glenview, Illinois, looks back at the past year of distance learning amid the global pandemic.
As the world marks the one-year anniversary of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is particularly appropriate that I reflect on Taniel Varoujan Armenian School’s viability.
Traditional conclaves such as mass gatherings in our churches, schools, and community centers have proved essential for the preservation of our vigorous cultural and spiritual fabrics. The effects of the pandemic have had a particularly acute impact on our Armenian communities.
Community-life as we knew it came to a screeching halt. Times changed, things changed. Taniel Varoujan Armenian School, like all things, changed, as well.
As if teaching and learning the Armenian language is not challenging enough, students and teachers adapted to new interactive methods. Gone were the days where we greeted one another in the hallways, physically cramped together, saying our morning and afternoon prayers.
Yes, the past year, our approach to sustaining our Armenian identity, heritage, and language, like everything else, had gone virtual –through ZOOM, with shortened school hours and a slightly smaller but jovial student body. Our morning and afternoon prayers on laptops, iPads, and mobile phones.
Students and teachers engage with one another through the screen. We laugh, we pray, we learn together through Zoom. We may be far from one another, yet we connect and bond every Saturday for two hours and 15 minutes. Armenian language, history, religion, and art are all taught this way. And, yes, though it may be challenging with the internet’s unsteadiness or Zoom’s unpredictability, we have managed to overcome our challenges and like our ancestors, able to master anything and everything set before us.
Taniel Varoujan Armenian School students and faculty will remain undaunted. In the words of our dear poet, Paruyr Sevak: «Կանք, պիտի լինենք, ու դեռ շատանանք» “We are here, we will remain, and we will prosper.”