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BRINGING ARMENIA HOME TO DIOCESE’S ARARAT CENTER

(GREENVILLE, NY) – More than 100 years ago, Armenian forefathers forced out of their land sought refuge on new shores. It is an all too familiar story that has been told amongst Armenian families and historians for years. A story of tradegy and survival, turned to hope and prosperity in a new land. For many, America became their new home where they planted their roots to begin a new life. Armenians settled in various areas of the United States that reminded them of their region of origin either near water, mountains or fertile farmland.

Those that settled in the New York area found an unexpected treasurer in the northern part of the state that evoked a sense of the homeland. Beautiful and breathtaking mountainous regions were reminiscent of Armenia’s terrain. One particular area in Upstate New York, known as the Catskill Mountains, became the social hub of the Armenian people for years. Today, a rebirth and rediscovery of the area by Armenians appears to be taking place. First, it has been through the AGBU’s Camp Nubar in Andes, NY. More recently, the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) purchased a 65-acre facility in Greenville, NY.

It was the gorgeous mountainous backdrop of this particular Diocesan-owned property which prompted the naming of the Ararat Youth and Conference Center… a reflection of the homeland which is shadowed by Mount Ararat.

The facility, which now serves as the permanent home of the St. Vartan Camp program, is in its third year of successful operation. With seven buildings that can be configured in a variety of ways for guest and meeting rooms, it has proven to be the ideal setting for retreats, meetings, festivals and more.

However, beyond the usual retreat-type setting, the Ararat Center is encompassing all that it has aspired by bringing an element of Armenia to the site. In addition to the appropriate name given to the facility, in 2004 Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, consecrated and blessed the Ararat Center with actual soil from Armenia.

In the spot were the blessing took place, a monument will soon be erected that will honor those who believed in the vision of such a Diocesan-owned facility. But the monument, which will be a miniature replica of the genocide memorial in Yerevan, will also be a reflection of the spirit of the survivors that made America their home.

Standing immediately behind the monument are flag poles that are already in place which proudly display the Armenian and American flags.

Continuing with this homeland theme, and because most survivors came from parts of Armenia now occupied by Turkey, to remember and honor their origin, the buildings and recreational areas at the Ararat Center have been renamed after regions in historic Armenia. Though regional names were not placed on the buildings randomly, rather a thought process went into the plan. A map of ancient Armenia was placed over the aerial layout of the Ararat Center. The buildings and recreational areas were then given names true to mapping of the historic Armenian regions. Campers and other guests and clients of the Ararat Center will now commonly refer to the buildings and recreational areas as Aintab, Marash, Adana, Gesaria, Malatya, Sepastia, Erzerum, Kharpert, Bitlis, Ani, Van and Dikranagerd in proper geographic replication.

In addition, each area will have an identifying marker where a plaque with a map of the region, including the names of the cities and towns within that region, will be placed. Also, within each building or near each area renamed, there will eventually be a brief history of the region and an informational library by use of pictures.

And finally, another area that will serve to remember the ancestors who brought us to this country is the “Pathfinders Campaign.” An area at the Ararat Center will be paved of engraved bricks to remember or honor a loved one. It will serve as a touching tribute to those that paved the way for a future in America.

So the Ararat Center, surround by the beautiful mountain view, will continue to build upon these planned enhancements keeping the spirit of the homeland in mind while celebrating the survival and triumphs of Armenians in America.

To take a virtual tour of the Ararat Center, please visit our website's tour section. Or arrange for a visit and more information by e-mailing

contact@araratcenter.org

.