by Mary Terzian
We have all heard the question: “How many angels dance on top of a pin?“ My question is: “How many Kharpertzi's are at the helm of organizations?“
During interviews with the trustees of a certain Endowment Fund – first generation Armenians born in the
Yeprad college is often cited as the contributing factor to prominence but those who graduated from there have long kissed the ground. Incidentally, Kharpert was not the only city in the Eastern Provinces that boasted a college. To my knowledge
To be truthful I felt a tinge of jealousy to be left out of this elite group because of my origins. How does one become a Kharpertzi? Since the elements of success seem to be inherent in them, would an ounce of Kh type blood infusion throw me into the ranks of the prominent? I don't think my ancestors would mind it a bit if I borrowed drops of genius from a neighboring town, as long as they are Armenian!
Another curious phenomenon was that these men followed their mother's advice. Our quiet, immigrant mothers seem to have had a lot of clout with their children. Asked why they chose to become a doctor, lawyer or an engineer the trustees' replies were the same:
“My Mom told me so.”
“Did you want to?”
Well, when an Armenian mother proposes, God disposes. Ambitious women, these young immigrant mothers, weren?t they? Their word was law. They may not have known how to read or write but they certainly knew how to influence their offspring. None of them settled for farm hand, grocer's apprentice or anything as humble for their progeny. Was it a serious academic desire, the urge to please Mom or the motivation to keep peace at home that pushed these young harbingers of a promising future towards their respective degrees against all odds of discrimination, rejection, even hatred? Or was it their natural survival instinct that made them negate all previously established theories concerning the underprivileged?
The aspiration to reach the skies is not a local phenomenon. It is pervasive in Armenians across the board. In 1999 when we were visiting a class of 9 year olds in
Engineer, doctor, astronaut, policeman, nurse.
These were the careers of choice, with a few interjections for the teaching profession. Nobody voiced to be a gang member, a shoemaker, a tailor or even a goldsmith. Are we a nation of idealists and dreamers or are we feeding our children ambitions that appear to be unrealistic? Yet, within a generation, these dreams are actualized!
The same maternal influence seems to have played a distinctive role in the choice of mates.
I asked a board member once:
“Why did you look for an Armenian girl?” He actually had undertaken a search.
“She had to be,” he said, although he had not seen an Armenian, except for his family, until he was over twenty years old.
“Why?” I asked.
He thought it over for a second.
“I don't know” he said, “that's the way I grew up.”
What do Mom's expect nowadays? In what direction do they steer their boys? Are young girls included in these dreams? With the cropping up of such new careers as Web designers, Web Communications Managers, e-commerce, Network communications specialists, what will happen to our professionals if Armenian mothers fail to catch up with technology? Are we going to have exceptional leaders because Mom's expectations keep pace with the times or are we going to go traditional with doctors and lawyers? And …
How many Kharpertzi's will be ahead of the pack in the race to the top!
Mary Terzian is a freelance writer living in