31-year-old Ani Haykuni was supposed to be at Said Business School, Oxford, UK, now. However, her plans got postponed, as she was diagnosed with highly aggressive breast cancer 7 months ago. While her treatment is continuing, Ani has taken up new hobbies; painting, photography, and etc.
Tatev monastery is a medieval Monastery complex in Syunik region, Armenia. After years of state atheism under the USSR, few locals have retaken to the habit of going to the monastery. However, children of the choir are now regular attendees. This year, they are celebrating their last ‘Tsakhkazard’ [palm sunday] with father Michael.
Holy Spirit of Spring
Hikoyat Manasyan, an ethnic Tajik, and her Armenian husband Eduard Manasyan are members of Armenia’s Bahá'í community. Considered one of the youngest religions in the world, the faith traces its origins in the early 1800s and is named after its founder Bahá'u'lláh which means, “Glory of God” in Arabic. The faith places the spiritual unity of God, religion, and all mankind as its core principles. As community engagement is one of the faith’s core values, Hikoyat and Eduard spend their time outside work with the young people on educational activities and projects.
The Faith Uniting Diversity
First it was her appearance - in our class Alina stood out as she did not look typically Caucasian, there was a different softness about her. Then, the surname - it did not end in “-yan” like the rest of us, it wasn't an Armenian name. She was often asked who she was, her favorite answer was simply, “I am half-Armenian, half-Assyrian.” She was obviously proud of who she was, a child of mixed ethnicity. She had something that we didn't. So did Karen. He was in another class, known as “the Russian,” and he indeed looked like one. Anna, my colleague, is always called when there is a need of a translation from Georgian - as her mother is Georgian, and Georgian is her second native tongue. Armenia is a largely homogeneous society and children of mixed ethnicity stick out - be it their appearance, their mindset, their traditions, or their favourite food. And they are aware of it with some feeling lost in a constant state of uncertainty, others navigating comfortably the world -in-between. Yet, all of them tend to represent the best of two, or more, worlds.
The Best of Two Worlds
A jar of yogurt represents home; an ancient, chipped ceramic pot symbolizes humanity; a traditional frame drum evokes passion; an old, smelly sweater brings to mind carefree childhood summers.