By Serop Stepanian, Toronto, 30 August 2022
In the past few hundred years, we have seen Armenian diasporic communities rise and fall–from Southeast Asia to Eastern Europe. Once prosperous communities in India, Bangladesh, Singapore, etc. have vanished or almost vanished. Likewise in Eastern Europe. In recent decades, we have witnessed the decline of the once-healthy Armenian communities of Egypt, Iraq, and Iran while in Lebanon, Syria, and Greece we struggle. There are only 1,000 Armenians left in Jerusalem. There are more than 400,000 Armenians in France and about 110,000 in Argentina. It’s a sad fact that the majority of the Armenians in these two countries are irrevocably assimilated.
How about your community? How strong is it? Will it be around in fifty years or follow the sad procession of vanishing Armenian communities? The below questionnaire–admittedly non-scientific–can help you check the health of your community and its potential for survival. It might also impel you–we hope–to be active in community affairs. After all, by participating in your community affairs, you would be contributing to the preservation of your and your family’s identity.
- Does your community have at least one church?
- Is the church well attended?
- Is the priest mostly a baptism/wedding/funeral functionary or a patriotic-spiritual pillar?
- Are the political parties active? (hold meetings, lobby with the government, recruit members, etc.)
- Do the political parties cooperate or do they compete?
- Is there an Armenian school?
- Are there Armenian publications and TV programs?
- Does the community organize regular political and cultural events?
- What’s the percentage of marriages with non-Armenians?
- Does the community organize Genocide commemorations/demonstrations?
- How well is youth represented in community organizations?
- Is there an active program to encourage young people become involved in community organizations?
- Are there annual picnics? Are they well attended?
- Is there a Scout movement?
- Is there an athletic club (football, basketball, volleyball)?
- Are there drama groups and folk dancing groups, and a chorus?
- Does the community have close ties to Armenia (Group tours, raising money, etc.)?
- Are there divisions among Armenians who have come from different countries?
- Are there a significant number of high-profile Armenians who are known to non-Armenians?
- Are there a significant number of Armenian professionals (physicians, dentists, pharmacists, lawyers, architects, and engineers) in your community?
- Are there large Armenian-owned enterprises (factories, service providers) in your community?
- Are there Armenian politicians?
- Are there a significant number of Armenian grocery stores and restaurants?
- Is there a Little Armenia in your town?
- Does your community organize an annual “Armenian Weekend” festivities which are also attended by non-Armenians?
So, what do you think? Will your community be around in fifty years or will you read on the Internet that your church has been sold because the dying community could no longer support it?