Lernazang Performing at USC

LOS ANGELES – As April comes to a close, the USC Dornsife Institute of Armenian Studies and USC Armenian Students’ Association conclude the first-ever Armenian History Month celebration at USC. Over the course of the month, the Institute and USC’s ASA hosted a diverse set of events that not only raised awareness about the history and culture of Armenians but also brought communities together to celebrate Armenian heritage.

In honor of the Institute’s achievements in uplifting Armenian voices, the Los Angeles City Council formally recognized the Institute during its Armenian American Heritage Month celebration “for its invaluable research exploring social, cultural and political challenges facing the Armenian people in their historic homelands and throughout the Diaspora.” President of the City Council Paul Krekorian presented the Institute with this recognition alongside the UCLA Promise Armenian Institute.

L to R: Margarita Baghdasaryan, Manuk Avedikyan, Shushan Karapetian, Paul Krekorian, Gegham Mughnetsyan, Lilit Keshisyan

Armenian History Month launched with an opening ceremony at USC Hahn’s Central Plaza, where hundreds gathered to mark this monumental moment in the university’s history. President of USC Dr. Carol Folt, alongside Director of the Institute of Armenian Studies Dr. Shushan Karapetian and Vice-President of USC’s ASA Mane Berikyan, spoke at the opening, commenting upon the strength of the Armenian community and the importance of this inaugural event. The celebration ended with a captivating performance and display of Armenian culture by Lernazang, a cultural collective and performance ensemble.

The artistic and cultural celebrations continued at the Trojan Grand Ballroom, where USC ASA welcomed the Trojan community and the public for an evening of dance, music, art, and poetry. Performers included students, alumni, and community members who showcased their talents and highlighted their Armenian culture and identity to a crowd of over 150 people.

Students Performing at ASA Cultural Showcase

The following week, the Institute hosted two events centered around the Armenian Genocide. On April 15, Institute Project Manager Manuk Avedikyan led an academic lecture on the political and social developments in Ottoman Turkey that led to the Armenian Genocide, co-sponsored by USC ASA, the USC Shoah Foundation, and the USC Center for Advanced Genocide Research.

Two days later, on April 17, the Institute and USC ASA organized a special theatrical screening and panel discussion of the animated documentary film Aurora’s Sunrise.

“We are so grateful for the support of the Armenian Film Society, the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Bars Media, and the Zoryan Institute for giving us the opportunity to host a screening of this groundbreaking film, shedding light on the forgotten story of Armenian Genocide survivor Aurora Mardiganian,” said Institute Associate Director, Margarita Baghdasaryan.

L to R: Shushan Karapetian, Ted Braun, Myrna Douzjian, Armen Karaoghlanian

The event began with a video message from award-winning writer, director, and producer of Aurora’s Sunrise, Inna Sahakyan, thanking audiences for their support and discussing the importance of this film. The screening was followed by an insightful panel discussion with Dr. Shushan Karapetian, Ted Braun, USC Joseph Campell Endowed Chair in Cinematic Ethics, Armen Karaoghlanian, co-founder of Armenian Film Society, and Dr. Myrna Douzjian, Lecturer of Armenian Studies, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at UC Berkeley.

In the final week of Armenian History Month, Dr. Shushan Karapetian hosted an Armenian Language Immersion class for the Trojan community at the Institute of Armenian Studies.

​​Speakers of all levels, including students, faculty, and staff, participated in this interactive beginners’ lesson in Armenian, which sparked their curiosity to learn more about the Armenian language.

Students at Armenian Language Immersion Class

“The language immersion class was incredible! It was a delight to peer into the intricacies of Armenian. The faculty, staff, and students in the Armenian Institute were so much fun to learn with—and were especially patient as I mumbled through ‘shnorhakalut’yun.’ I truly enjoyed this Armenian immersion experience and would love to participate in another one in the future!” said Christian Montante, a USC student majoring in Classics.

The month ended with an Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day Candlelight Vigil, hosted jointly by the Armenian Students’ Associations at USC and UCLA on April 24. Trojans, Bruins, and community members gathered to honor the 1.5 million lives lost during the Armenian Genocide. Institute Chitjian Researcher Archivist Gegham Mughnetsyan provided remarks at the vigil, emphasizing the importance of resilience and unity in the Armenian community.

With the support and enthusiasm of USC and the Armenian community, the inaugural Armenian History Month at USC succeeded in highlighting the diversity and beauty of the Armenian experience. The USC Dornsife Institute of Armenian Studies looks forward to growing and continuing Armenian History Month celebrations at USC for years to come.

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