WASHINGTON — As part of the Terjenian-Thomas Internship Program, the 2012 Armenian Assembly of America summer intern class, together with the 2012 Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) interns, met with long-time Assembly Trustee Rita Balian, whose late husband Vartkess served on the Assembly’s Board of Directors as Treasurer for six years from 1978 to 1984, according to the Armenian Assembly of America.
The Assembly interns joined the ANCA interns as they toured the Armenian art exhibit at the World Bank, which features paintings and sculptures from the Balian Art Collection on loan to the Bank since 2007. The exhibit includes paintings by Vahram Tavtian, Mais Mkhitaryan, Vakhtang Sirunyan, Martin Petrossian, Ararat Sarkissian, Alber Hakobian and Roudolf Kharatian and others from Armenia, as well as sculptures by Reuben Nakian, Arto Tchakmakchian, Gagik Arutunian and Emil Kazaz. Balian is also co-sponsoring the spectacular exhibit for the 500th anniversary of Armenian printing at the Library of Congress, titled The Armenian Literary Tradition, which the Assembly interns visited the same morning on July 24. The exhibit is a must see for every Armenian to be feel proud of their amazing history and rich culture.
After the World Bank, the interns went to the Balian residence to see the extensive art collection by major Armenian artists. Balian gave the interns an educational tour, introducing them to the artwork by many artists, among them Ardash, Ayvazovsky, Jansem, Minas, Pushman, Sarian, Hakop Hakopian, Ashot Zorian, Paul Guirakosian, Arshile Gorky, Reuben Nakian and others. Following the tour, Balian addressed the interns, emphasizing the importance of each intern to bring their active participation and contribute as much as possible to the advancement of Armenia and the communities in the diaspora.
Balian also discussed the work of the Armenian American Cultural Association (AACA), which she founded in 1995, through which the Armenian American Wellness Center was established in Yerevan, Armenia in 1997. The mission of this state-of-the- art Wellness Center is to save lives of women and mothers through early detection of their diseases. To date, over 3,000 lives have been saved through accurate and early detection. In recognition of her humanitarian and volunteer efforts in Armenia, Balian was the first to receive the “USAID Outstanding Citizen Achievement Award” in January 2003, and in September 2011, on the 20th anniversary of Armenia’s inde- pendence, the “Mkhitar Heratzi Award” was presented to her by President Serge Sargisian in New York City for her medical achievements for the women of Armenia.
“Mrs. Balian is a wonderful example of the power of unwavering commitment to one’s own country and people. Whether it is her support of Armenian artists, the propagation of Armenian culture or her life-saving work to ensure the health of the Armenian people, Mrs. Balian has given us all the hope that we too will be able to make such a difference for our people,” said Lusine Stepanyan, an Assembly intern from Yerevan Armenia and a graduate of the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University in Yerevan, who interned this summer at AACA.
“We were pleased to accept the gracious hospitality of Mrs. Balian and to join with our friends in the Assembly’s internship program, both in enjoying the Balian family’s wonderful art collection and also in exchanging views about the exciting role that an energetic new generation of Armenian-Americans is already playing in reinventing Armenia and revolutionizing the pursuit of the Armenian Cause,” said Raffi Karakashian, a former Armenian Assembly intern who directs the ANCA internship program in addition to his role as the legislative affairs director.
“We would like to thank Mrs. Balian for being such a wonderful hostess and pro- viding us the opportunity to experience and appreciate the magnificent Balian Art Collection, as well as discuss our role as young Armenian-Americans in shaping the future of the Armenian community with someone who has already done so much to promote the welfare of Armenians around the world. In many ways, it was a fitting conclusion to the internship program,” stated Simon Shahinian, the Assembly’s intern coordinator.
The Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program was made possible by the Memorial Fund established through Aram Terjenian, Annie Thomas and Florence Terjenian of Belmont, Mass. Additional support comes from the Richard Tufenkian Memorial Fund, the John Hanessian Scholarship Fund, the Armen Astarjian Scholarship Fund, the Ohanian Memorial Fund, James and Connie Melikian and the Knights of Vartan.