A visit to Pelham Road Elementary
As a teacher and one who absolutely loves children, one of my favourite parts of singing is being asked to speak at schools. It is so much fun to connect with young people and share my passion for Armenia with them. In many of the cities that I have been invited to perform, I have also been invited to speak in the local schools, whether they are Armenian or non-Armenian schools.
My dear friend from church, Janiece, called me a couple of weeks ago and invited me to come speak at her son’s school during their International Week… “do you do that sort of thing?” She asked hopefully… I smiled. Yes… I sure do… and I love doing it!
So today, off we went to Pelham Road Elementary, a beautiful school – the teachers and students proudly gave me a quick tour of their newly built school… the new building is just 4 years old… it was lovely! – this school was filled with such a positive energy… you could feel the enthusiasm of the teachers and students alike the minute I stepped inside… how refreshing!
Janiece looked beautiful, glowing as she always is. She was so excited to have us at the school, and I was thrilled to be there. It is such an honour for me to speak to young people about Armenia and our history… I especially love telling them my grandparents’ story… so many people know so little about Armenian culture, about the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and if I can help change that, I will.
I told the students my story… growing up in Vancouver and feeling frustrated that no one knew what I was: “what is Armenian?” they’d ask me with a quizzical look. It didn’t make sense to me that people didn’t know what an Armenian was. Everyone seemed to know about others countries, Greece, Spain, Italy – the common countries people mistakenly assumed I must be from!
I told the students about my grandmother, after whom I am named, how at such a young age, she survived the Armenian Genocide… how even though she went through such a horrific childhood, she maintained her faith, she somehow remained joyful, and she continued to sing…
I told the students how many of the songs that she once sang are the same ones that I am singing now… songs that she taught my mom, and my mom taught me…
The students listened intently… and then I showed them photos from my travels to Armenia… I even had a chance to sing an Armenian folk song for them, while they clapped along… it was a sweet time! One highlight was during the question time, when one boy asked: “Now that you are in America, do you like Canada or the US better?” How do I answer that question?! We all laughed…good question! I said both…
Thank you, Pelham Road Elementary for being such a wonderful audience. I love meeting the students and the gracious teachers and Mrs. Brantley, the principal – I can’t wait to see you all again soon! And most of all, thank you, Janiece for inviting me to come speak today!
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