By Olya Yordanyan
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BOSTON — Lena Maranian Adishian had been mulling over raising awareness about Armenian history and culture for a couple of years before she initiated the 100 Years, 100 Facts project that culminated in a book.
Impact of an Ancient Nation: Bridging the Past, Present, and Future with 100+ facts about Armenia and Armenians — a new book by Lena Adishian and Nareg Seferian — was published in June 2016. It is a collection of 105 short articles, written for the 100 Years, 100 Facts Project, a non-profit online initiative aimed to educate Armenians about their culture and history.
The idea for the 100 Years, 100 Facts Project fully developed in Adishian’s mind on the threshold of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. She knew that the centennial would trigger the curiosity of non-Armenians, and that they would turn to Armenians for answers. She kept wondering how “knowledgeable” Armenians were on various historical and cultural subjects to be “good representatives and ambassadors” of their communities.
“The idea was to develop something that was educational,” Adishian said. “The other part was to really celebrate the vastness and depth of our heritage.”
Adishian, now a stay-at-home mom and a former corporate employee, of Los Angeles, teamed up with her friend, Seferian, a Yerevan-based writer and researcher, in 2013 to make the 100 Years, 100 Facts Project a reality.
The first article was posted on April 24, 2014, and 99 stories about the Armenian Genocide, language, literature, culture, history, sports, religion and Diaspora followed each other throughout the year, until April 24, 2015.
“We’ve exchanged some 3,000 e-mails over the past three years,” Seferian said describing their cooperation. “It’s just been e-mails back and forth, writing, editing, re-writing, publishing…”
Each story offers a glimpse into a subject matter.
Topics were carefully selected, and, according to Seferian, they “had to get rid of some great ideas and consolidate some others.”
100 Years, 100 Facts soon gained popularity and became available in five other languages — French, Portuguese, Turkish, Spanish and Russian.
For the authors, however, only online presence and success was not “tangible” enough.
“We decided in the end that, yes, it would be something that we could put together as a more lasting, more tangible item that, we hope, will make its way into living rooms and classrooms, having an impact in a different way than a website or a Facebook page,” Seferian said.
“When you read something on a website you just look at it quickly, and you look at one fact at a time. When you are holding a book, leafing through the pages, it feels like the vastness and the depths of our culture, it feels the variety,” Adishian said.
The project 100 Years, 100 Facts also became a personal journey for Adishian, who studied the story of her family more profoundly in preparation for the undertaking.
“It gave me the encouragement to have my great-great-uncle’s memoirs translated from French into English,” Adishian said. “And I learned that he was at the trial of Soghomon Tehlirian, the first to kiss and hug him, when Tehlirian was acquitted.”
The not-for-profit publication was made possible with the support of the Arshag and Eleanor Dickranian Foundation (Los Angeles) and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon).
Copies of the book are available online through www.100years100facts.com.