It has become a tradition for Siamanto Academy students to interview their teachers. Below we present an interview with Arthur Atayan, conducted by Karin Kevorkian, Maral Aprahamian, Katrina Arvestian, Soleen Parseghian, and Vartine Ketchedjian .
Q.- Mr. Adayan, where were you born? And where do you live now? It is interesting for us to see the migration of such a large number of Armenians abroad while you have formed a family there?
A.- I was born and I live in Armenia, I never moved anywhere. I was born and raised in Yerevan, where I live.
For the second part of your question, yes, the migration for centuries is the one of the biggest problems for us, unfortunately. It’s a problem of demography. We are losing people every year in huge numbers. When the borders opened the situation in Armenia worsened. This is a major problem now, I think.
I never wanted to emigrate. I got this attitude from my father, who is a teacher and got the chance in 1990s so many times to move to the United States, but never wanted, he taught my brother and me that there is so much to do in our motherland, especially as an educator. I think that I am useful here, I teach in school, and in the Academy of Fine Arts, I work at an educational TV company. I do my best to bring something good to my society. If I move to the U.S. or Europe, most probably I will find a decent job, but I won’t be as useful for society as I’m here for my nation. I am convinced about that.
Where do you teach and what age group are your students?
I started lecturing at the Academy of Fine Arts, I quit last year, because I couldn’t afford working three jobs at the same time and do all of them well.
I teach in school to young kids. I used to have good and bad teachers, but I made a promise to myself to go to school as a teacher and do it well. The energy a teacher puts to prepare and convey to the students takes a lot from him. Let me put it this way: if you teach two hours but you prepare and give it in an excellent manner, it equals to one day of work in any other job. Unfortunately, it really took too much of my energy, so when I got promoted in the TV job, I was forced to leave the other one. But I’m teaching in the same school where I studied; I didn’t quit. It has something warm and deep that I can’t explain. I want it to stay with me. I teach music because I am a musician too. We have a teenagers’ high school band. We do folk-rock Armenian music and last year we had four concerts and all of them were sold out. All were happy.
You are teaching at Siamanto Academy for the second year. What is your opinion about us, apart from the fact that we are from different states and that we are on Zoom? Neither you nor we know each other in person. What could be done to make Siamanto Academy better?
A.- Thank you for this question, yes, I have couple of things to say here. Zoom-schooling is something else. We can’t meet in person; we cannot have real workshops side by side together. And that’s really unfortunate.
Yes, of course, the good part is that this way you are connected with your teen friends from other states.
It’s been my second year that I teach Siamanto students, and I had different groups in Siamanto, there were groups that were so into the subject, bombarding me with questions or their ideas about art. They were asking for more and more. It was challenging and it was a lot of fun.
I don’t want to put pressure on any of you. When the student is here, it means they are involved in this game. Naturally, some of them aren’t that much interested in Art or Art history. But every student should stop for a second and think: without the different periods and events in the history of our art, we, as a nation, wouldn’t have been here now. So, in the end, you as the new generation of Armenians, must have a rich knowledge about everything that makes you Armenian. Imagine it this way: every second of Armenian history, each Armenian that ever existed, for example your parents, grandparents, and also you – have or had a role in the history of ours. Every single —good or bad— event that ever happened to our nation brought us exactly to this moment and our duty is to know and understand – why are we here?
What makes “:Boon TV” different from other TV companies and what is your role in it? The name is interesting, starting with a colon.
I learned about “:Boon TV” [:Բուն TV] when I was graduating my masters, around 10 years ago. There was a YouTube channel that was doing educational content in Armenia, which was quite unusual at that time. I was surprised but never paid much attention to it. And then when one of my friends invited me to work together for “:Boon TV,” I said, ‘Wow, let’s give it a try.’ When I went and met the team, it turned out that it was kind of a dream job. We shot a lot of online lectures on science, cultural topics, and many other things to provide accessible knowledge to the people who needed it. Eventually we grew.
After the war, our co-founder came with the idea that this YouTube channel that barely had ten thousand followers, had to turn into a proper TV company. There were around five people working at “:Boon TV” back then, and we had to extend the crew to fifty, we had to rent a building instead of a tiny studio, we are now broadcasting 24/7. By the way, if you are in LA and have the Armenian channels broadcast at your place, you will probably have “:Boon TV” too. Now instead of ten thousand subscribers, we have millions of potential viewers. We think this way: maybe we don’t have a major impact on the politics and global events nowadays, but we do what we believe in and whatever we can day and night.
The name “:Boon TV” means the following: “:” in Armenian is period, Բուն/Boon means sense or meaning. Thus, the name means end to the sentence and after the period comes the real meaning.
What about your personal life?
I am married to my wonderful wife from Artsakh, and I have a beautiful baby daughter, who kept us sane in this terrible post-war period. You feel responsible for her and that keeps you waking up every morning and doing your best to make her feel happy. Protecting your child from all the negativity floating around you, you feel it brings happiness to you too. We try to participate in charity and try to help Artsakh in every possible way.
My passion besides art is music. I teach art history, because I feel passionate about it, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. I’m a bit of a geek and I love fantasy and sci-fi and movies. I’m a very social person, as you might have noticed.
Thank you and our apologies for our occasional student mischief, Zoom is still an unusual thing for us.
I am thankful too! I see you are doing your best to learn something, even if Zoom schooling is not the easiest thing. I wish you all the best and hope to meet you soon here, in Armenia.