Gyumri Educators Visit Fresno
By Barlow Der Mugrdechian
A group of ten teachers and administrators from Gyumri, Armenia were in
Fresno for a two and a half week training and observation program, which
was funded by the United States Information Agency and managed by California
State University, Fresno. Dr. Bill Mallios of the Information Systems and
Decision Sciences Department was the director of the Project and Dr. Dan
Griffin of the Grants and Research Office at CSU Fresno assisted in the
curriculum and site visit planning. Sites visited were schools in the Fresno
Unified and Clovis School Districts, including visits to Clovis West High
School, Buchanan High School, Roosevelt High School, and several
middle and elementary schools.
on Thursday, October 16, 1997, the group of ten principals and vice-principals,
from Armeniaís second largest city Gyumri, were in Fresno until Wednesday,
November 5. The five women and five men in the group were hosted by local
families during their stay in Fresno. Participants were Svetlana
Galoyan, Vice-principal and teacher of the Marmashen School in the Shirak
Marz; Knarik Khachatrian, Deputy Director of Educational Section in Gyumri
School No.1; Knarik Aharonyan, Principal, State School No. 4, (handicapped
and orphan population); Anahit Haroutunian, Head of the Humanities section/teacher
of the "Photon" School in Gyumri; Lilia Hovsepian, vice-principal education
section, ěTempî State school, Gyumri; Gurgen Tarakhchian, Deputy Director
of education and curriculum of the Gyumri Ghevond Alishan State School
#8; Spartak Torosian, principal/teacher, Middle School of Vahramashen;
Samvel Hovannisian, vice-principal, Byron School No. 20 (Private
school) in Gyumri; Zohrab Chaghayan, director, Basic School of the Gyumri
Pedagogical Institute; and Samvel Grigorian, principal, Secondary School
guests were greeted on Friday afternoon, October 17, by Barlow Der Mugrdechian
of the Armenian Studies Program, and by interpreters Ashot Hagopian and
Lucy Erysian, who gave the group an orientation for the program and a campus
afternoon, a special tour of Fresno was arranged. Stops included a visit
to Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church and a tour of the Valley Lahvosh
Baking Company facilities, led by Agnes Saghatelian. A trip to the Ararat
Armenian Cemetery included a visit to the monument dedicated to Soghomon
Tehlerian and a visit to many sites made famous by William Saroyan.
President Dr. John Welty welcomed the group in his campus office and discussed
the scope of the visit and the activities of the group. Later the group
members received a signed copy of a photograph with the President.
Armenian Community School of Fresno and Principal Seth Atamian hosted the
group on Tuesday, October 21 for a tour of the facilities, followed by
lunch. Group members had the opportunity to observe the students and staff
of the school. Later a trip to the William Saroyan permanent exhibit at
the Fresno Metropolitan Museum was of immense interest to the group, who
spent several hours in exploring the museum.
day group members observed and participated in activities designed to make
them aware of how the primary and secondary school system in the United
States functions. Site visits to local high-schools were planned and there
were opportunities to interact with students, teachers, and administrators.
on the usage of computer technology for instruction were taught by Otto
Benavides, Director of Instructional Technology for the School of Education.
Hands on experience introduced the participants to how the computer can
be utilized in the classroom.
to San Francisco was the highlight of the first week. Mrs. Jacqueline Kazarian,
founder of the William Saroyan San Francisco Cultural Resource Center,
hosted the group for an informal tour of her home and a discussion on William
Saroyan. Interpreter Ashot Hagopian escorted the group to San Francisco.
of the following week, principal Jim Green welcomed the group to North
Fork Elementary School nestled in the foothills of Fresno County and took
them on a tour of the rural school. The visitors were impressed by the
use of technology in the classrooms and the modern equipment that students
had the opportunity to use, including laptop computers.
afternoon, a visit to Victor Packing Inc. in Madera introduced the group
to the rich agricultural heritage of the San Joaquin Valley. Sarkis Sahatdjian
and son Victor Sahatdjian greeted the group and gave them a tour of the
raisin packing facilities. Sarkis Sahatdjian explained the history of Armenians
in agriculture in the area. Raisins were given to all of the visitors.
October 28, after visiting local schools, the group was hosted to a lunch
at the monthly luncheon meeting of the Armenian General Benevolent Union
of Fresno. Many community members had a chance to ask questions to the
group about current conditions in Armenia. Later that same evening teacher
Zaroohi Der Mugrdechian hosted the visitors at a dinner held at her home.
Local area Armenian educators joined the visitors from Armenia and a lively
exchange of ideas took place.
October 29, the group visited the CSU Fresno Child Development Center and
had an opportunity to visit and observe how children are taught in the
program. That evening, the Fresno Armenian community had a chance to visit
with the group at a gathering held at the Armenian Community School of
Fresno. Highlights from the evening included viewing a video from Gyumri
and a display of children's art.
next day, the group visited the Fresno County Office of Education and made
site visits to schools which included students who are physically or intellectually
challenged. Charlene Samuelian and Armen Bacon from the Fresno County Office
of Education accompanied the group on their site visits. This visit impressed
the visitors with the care that the American school system has for students.
evening, Mr. and Mrs. Vartkes and Nazik Messerlian and family hosted a
dinner at their home in honor of the Armenian group. The Messerlians were
recent visitors to Armenia and the guest enjoyed relating their experiences
with the hosts.
second weekend was highlighted by a visit to Los Angeles and to Disneyland.
Escorted by interpreters Viktoriya Yerkanyan and Hagop Ekmekchyan, they
visited the large Armenian community of Los Angeles.
the training course was a going away dinner held at the King of Kebobs
restaurant in Fresno. Group participants received a diploma signifying
their satisfactory completion of the training program. Barlow Der
Mugrdechian of the Armenian Studies Program, who acted as coordinator for
the interpreters and arranged the logistics for the program, also distributed
mementos of the Fresno stay.
The Armenian principals and vice-principals returned to Gyumri early on
Wednesday, November 5, 1997.