Visiting an Armenian diaspora community
Red stone and green lawn – a fascinating combination. And the first thing you see when you go to visit the Armenian community centre the diaspora in Odessa. The walls around the area are built with red stone. Just like the Armenian Apostolic church that is standing in the middle, between lawn, flowers and trees. Around the community centre and church are standing big housing complexes. An interesting contrast but typical for diaspora communities.
We came here because the audio-visual group of our project organized an interview with the director of the Armenian restaurant Ararat that is connected to the community centre. While the video group was filming the interview the other people were walking around. They enjoyed the sea view from the restaurant or they took a look from the inside of the church. Compared to an Orthodox church it seems even minimalistic with only few ikons of saints and not much ornamentation.
When the audio-visual group finished the interview all of the project’s participants went into the house of the community centre for a guided tour through Armenian the community centre and on history and diaspora. We learned about ancient Armenia, his kings and his architecture but also about the Armenian alphabet, the music and traditional clothes. We also had the possibility to have a look at a school class – the community centre provides an educational program for four years in that people of every age an origin can participate to learn the Armenian language, history, culture and literature. Concerning cultural and identical topics, it was interesting to see that some opinions of the diaspora Armenians are more conservative than the opinions of the Armenian participants of our project. That is also typical for diaspora communities.
At the end the guided tour we were in a big room where Armenian Christian people can celebrate their wedding. The income is donated to the community centre and the church to sustain this place of holding Armenian identity alive. Also a part of the income of the connected Armenian restaurant is donated. The community centre is financed only by its members.
At the end of the guided tour we saw a miniature of the genocide monument in Yerevan, the symbol of biggest trauma in Armenian’s consciousness – in Armenia or in the diaspora