On August 14, 2015, the International School Network visited the Embassy of Armenia to interview the Ambassador, His Excellency Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan.
Apricot, the National Symbol (Kurumi)
Mt. Ararat is one symbol of Armenia, however apricot is also another national symbol as well as the symbol of the Armenian Embassy. The logo of the Armenian Embassy here in Japan was designed by H.E. Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan with the fruit colored in orange and the leaves in red and blue, using the colors seen on the national flag of Armenia. The reason why apricot had become such a symbol was because the word for apricot in Latin is Prunus armeniaca, which translates to the “Armenian plum”. There are numerous different types of apricot, however the Armenian apricot is said to be big, juicy, prolonged, and soft. “I had a lot of good apricots when I had a chance to go back to Armenia recently. I ate a lot of it. It’s very good,” H.E. Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan commented.
The Meaning to the National Flag (Kurumi)
The national flag of Armenia is tri-color with red, blue, and yellow. The red color represents the blood shed by the Armenians when struggling to gain independence. The blue part represents the sky and the orange color symbolizes the richness of spirit, as well as the sun since they provide energy of life and to harvest. When the nation was a part of the Soviet Union, the flag was red, blue, and red. Armenia gained a short-lived independence from 1918-1920 in which they were known as the Democratic Republic of Armenia. When Armenia finally gained independence in 1991 and became the Republic of Armenia, the flag went back to the original flag made during their previous independence.
The Importance of the National Anthem and the Armenian Diaspora (Kurumi)
The national anthem of the Republic of Armenia has been "Mer Hayrenik" (meaning "Our Fatherland" in English) even from the time when Armenia was the First Republic of Armenia. This song reflects the extensive history of Armenia and its strong desire of independence. "Armenia has a very long history. Within the history, Armenia had experienced a huge tragedy and struggle," H.E. Dr. Pogosyan spoke. Because of the Armenian Genocide in 1915, there were Armenian refugees throughout the globe. As a result of this, even still now, there are large community of Armenians scattered around the world, in which can be expressed as ‘diaspora’. There are Armenian communities in nations such as Lebanon, France (specifically in Lyon), the United States (specifically in Los Angeles, California, and Boston), Canada (specifically in Toronto, Quebec, and Montreal), and a number of Armenian churches can be seen in Singapore. H.E. Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan mentioned that out of the entire population of Armenia, approximately three million people live in Armenia, while the other ten million live outside of the country. “(Because of how international Armenians have become,) Armenia consists of components that reflect history but look towards building a brighter future,” H.E. Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan added.
Relations Between Armenia and Japan ( Kurumi)
With the help of Diana Abgar (the first female diplomat to Armenia), in 1920, Japan was one of the first nations to recognize Armenia as a republic and Japan, as one of the leading nations of technology as well as being known for the traditional aspects, in a way, can be compared with Armenia. “Although different in size, Armenia resembles Japan,” began H.E. Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan. “We have preserved the language and the national heritage but we are eager to build a contemporary, high-tech country.” The official language of Armenia, Armenian is known to be one of the earliest indo-euro language however after centuries, Armenians still use it today to communicate with each other. While preserving the nation’s traditions, there are signs of innovational encouragements. For example, there is a prestigious award in Armenia which is prized only by people who have made a big contribution in the IT world. This award was previously given to Dr. Tsugio Makimoto from Japan, whom H.E. Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan also personally knows. There is also a high-tech center for anyone who is interested (does not have to be elite in the field). “Harmony of tradition and new things is important. If we concentrate on only the new aspects, we get burnt away and it would not be a good generation if we keep on whining about the past, “H.E. Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan spoke.
Goals ( Kurumi)
H.E. Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan as the first ambassador of Armenia in Japan, is proud and honored about his position. In 2010, he founded the embassy in search of starting something new for the economic, political, and the cultural direction of his country. “I had a huge responsibility since I was starting something new and had to find myself some followers. It was also very difficult because I wanted to have a good economic relationship with Japan. I think I became an ambassador not because of my career as a diplomat but because I have been here (Japan) for twenty years. I was maybe appointed because I knew about the reality of Japan,” he commented. H.E. Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan feels that good political and economic ties do not work if there are no public relations and knowledge. In Armenia, he mentioned that mainstream Japanese culture is well-known to the general public. However, he thinks that it is significant for them to know more about the real culture of Japan. Initially when he began his work as an ambassador, there were only roughly 20 to 30 Japanese tourists who visited Japan within an year. Last year, the number grew to approximately 10,000 Japanese visitors due to H.E. Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan’s effort of promoting Japan to his home country. “Culture is the name,” he said, “I think that cultural activities led to the increase in the number of tourists.” There are various different events hosted by the Embassy of Armenia such as concerts, ballet performances, lectures, and exhibitions. Recently, H.E. Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan flew to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for remembrance of World War II. He find the cultural interchange and connection at the local level meaningful for both countries. To expose Japanese culture to Armenian children, there are haiku contests as well. Last month, representatives of the Mori Building Company visited Armenia to talk about the Japanese Kimono and tea ceremony. There were also exhibitions of the Hina dolls. He told us that cultural and public interchange leads to more results and sustainability in business. He feels that business without psychological understandings is not good for connections. Therefore as a goal H.E. Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan commented, “Japan is the first and most important nation to present more of Armenian culture and what’s going on there. My biggest task would be to continue what I am doing right now and extend cultural and public exchanges between the two countries
Mt. Ararat and it's Legend (Kate)
The story “Noah’s Arc,” told in the Bible, Genesis, chapters 6 through 9 takes place on Mt. Ararat, located in the range of the Armenian highlands. Between the border of Turkey. The mountain is symbolic to the people of Armenia and is recognised as a sacred area, being famous for the Biblical mountain. Although it is a story handed down by tradition, the people of Armenia consider themselves as the descendants of Noah. It is also proven by current scientists that Mt. Ararat’s elevation of 5,137m can withstand huge floods and will stay being the safest location. HE Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan believes that having a mountain as a national symbol indicates the long history and tradition of Armenia.Today, Mt. Ararat is cherished by many Armenians symbolising their national identity. The lore behind Mt. Ararat is now a legacy, having Mt. Ararat remain as one of the popular tourist attractions.
Ambassador’s message (Kate)
His Excellency Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan pointed out that Japan and Armenia both have mono ethnic population. Different from multicultural states who all have unique family traditions, mono ethnic societies have similar life styles and ways of thinking as a state. He states, that as globalisation is happening, one of the biggest hurdles of mono ethnic groups is the narrow mindsets. He believes that neutering global mindset is important because it opens more doors to understanding and to make better judgements. We would be able to think more about countries or cultures with accuracy, once we think “outside of the box”, looking at it for more than one perspective. Although it is sometimes portrayed negatively, globalisation is happening, and is a good influence for people to truly understand and learn the best from other cultures. Today there are a lot of opportunities for students to reach out for global communities including publications and social networks. HE Dr. Grant R. Pogosyan encourages students to “take the challenge”. Communication networks support students to become a global minded person which he believes is an important reformation to be made in the future, what education should provide.
Kate Shimizu 11th Seisen International School
Kurumi Onishi 10th Saint Maur International School
Karen Nishina 5th Saint Maur International School