Tsolin Parseghian and Vartine Kechejian, St. Stephen’s School and Siamanto Academy first year students, interviewed teacher Lena Nazarian. The interview is part of the series in which Siamanto students interview their teachers.
Why and how did you decide to become a teacher?
Teaching has been especially appealing to me since I was little, so much so that in my childhood games I would always become a teacher to my playmates. Sometimes the other kids would become my imaginary students, sitting in the empty chairs that we would neatly arrange in our home.
I began my real teaching career in my student years at the Levon and Sophia Hagopian Armenian College in Beirut, followed in Aleppo by the Karen Jeppe Jemaran and the Armenian Studies Institute of Hamazkayin.
The teacher-student link is sacred, both complement and fulfill each other…
What specialization have you chosen?
The foci of my interest have been and still are language and literature, with Armenian language and literature obviously in the first place. I graduated from the Hamazkayin Higher Institute for Armenian Studies in Lebanon and then I got a degree in English Language and Literature from Aleppo State University. I have a master’s degree from the Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences.
I have also worked with the Western Armenian section of the Hrachia Acharian Language Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia.
What kind of challenges is Western Armenian faced with?
The alarm sounded by writer Shahan Shahnur already a century ago that “the language is retreating” is sobering still today.
In 2008, Unesco listed Western Armenian among endangered languages.
Each of us must be a torchbearer of the mother tongue in the Diaspora and must contribute to the preservation and development of Western Armenian.
Even the international community since 2000 marks the International Mother Language Day on Feb. 21 to promote their recognition and use.
What do you think of Siamanto Academy?
In 2020, when Siamanto Academy switched to remote teaching, I was given the opportunity to teach Western Armenian and continue my teaching life that had been interrupted for reasons beyond my control.
The virtual classes atmosphere is also friendly because the prevailing feeling is love for Armenia. The mission of Siamanto Academy is fulfilled when each student becomes an ambassador of our language.