Worcester Celebrates ‘Power of the Printed Word’ with Lecture


From left, Van M. Aroian, City Councilor Philip Palmieri, Alin K. Gregorian and
Khatchig Mouradian

By Gabriella Gage

Mirror-Spectator Staff

WORCESTER, Mass. — On Thursday, November 15, the Worcester Armenian Book Commemoration Committee hosted a lecture on “The Power of the Printed Word: Successes and Challenges, Past and Present” at the hall of Church of Our Saviour. A crowd of more than 40 audience members attended the event which featured current perspectives from the editors of two major Armenian-American weeklies, Alin K. Gregorian of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator and Khatchig Mouradian of the Armenian Weekly.

The program was part of the month-long celebration in honor of the 500th anniversary of Armenian book printing, which includes an exhibit featuring Armenian printing, alphabet and calligraphy, along with other texts. The program was initially scheduled for November 7 at the main branch of the Worcester Public Library, where the exhibit runs through the end of November, but was rescheduled due to inclement weather.

Father Khatchadour Boghossian of Armenian Apostolic Holy Trinity Church and Father Aved Terzian of Armenian Church of Our Savior joined together to open the event with a hymn dedicated to the Holy Translators, titled Vork Zataretsi, meaning “Those Who Enhanced the Work.”

Worcester Armenian Book Commemoration Committee Chair Van M. Aroian gave opening remarks, along with a slideshow of the Worcester Library exhibit. Aroian also showed a brief film about Matenadaran manuscript repository in Yerevan.

Worcester City Councilor Philip Palmieri presented Aroian and guest lecturers Gregorian and Mouradian with proclamations from Mayor Joseph Petty declaring November Armenian Book Commemoration Month in the city of Worcester, and presented each of the honorees with keys to the city. Palmieri thanked the honorees and the committee for “keeping up the traditions of such a strong community.”

In introducing the lecturers, Aroian stressed the important role both Armenian papers play in using media and technology to “penetrate the evil curtain of denial.”

Both Gregorian and Mouradian shared their observations on the state of Armenian journalism and their roles as interpreters of major events in the Armenian community.

In her talk, Gregorian took audience members on a historical journey through Armenia’s “long love affair with the written word.” Beginning with the historical significance of the Holy Translators and events captured by early Diasporan papers such as India’s Azdarar in the 1790s, Gregorian continued on to contemporary political issues facing the diaspora and Armenia.

She also discussed the influence of Armenian personalities and social media of today, noting, “On our pages, we trace the stories of these people and many, many others who on a day-to-day basis play a more vital role in our greater American and world community and bring it to our readers from our specific viewpoint.”

Beyond their role in delivering timely news to the diaspora, Gregorian explained the archival importance of Armenian papers, which provide historical snippets of history and capture “what mattered most to readers at any given time.”

Mouradian shared several stories during his lecture from his travels to historic Armenia (modern Turkey) and his work in the Armenian press that illustrated the power and resilience of the Armenian written word throughout history, despite devastation and hardship. Mouradian spoke of the connections between the historic and contemporary written word, as well as the connections among Armenians living throughout the world to their past. “To communicate that connection to the readership,” Mouradian said, “is the greatest current challenge for newspapers.”

He recalled instances where Kurdish denizens of a former Armenian village had brought over utensils with Armenian inscriptions left over from the time of the Armenian Genocide, and asked him and other Armenian visitors to read the writing on them so that they would “change back” from their current state as base metals to gold.

During the lectures and the question-and-answer that followed, both Gregorian and Mouradian shared their mutual goal of reaching out to young readers, and the opportunities the Armenian Mirror-Spectator and the

Armenian Weekly seek interns to get involved in the process of preserving the written word through contemporary journalism.

Mouradian characterized the current generation as “different not indifferent” and cited youth involvement as one of they key tasks for the Armenian community.

Likewise, Aroian added, “We need to appeal to the younger generation” to get involved. In his closing remarks, Aroian thanked committee members, volunteers, library staff, the National Association for Armenian Studies (NAASR), the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) and various other supporters of the exhibit and accompanying lecture series. Refreshments were served.

The recorded event will be aired on local public access television.