Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fresh apricots...everywhere

I think this blog should end with a sweet story. The admiration and lore surrounding Armenian apricots predates biblical times in historical and cultural descriptions. Armenians take their apricots seriously, as the International Conference on the Armenian Apricot makes clear. While in Armenia you encounter apricot trees everywhere, and outdoor fruit vendors make buying opportunities plentiful. One of Dr. Yaghjyan's patients brought a big basket of apricots as a gift of appreciation, and Dr. Yaghjyan shared part of his proceeds with me. Armenia’s estimated forest cover is less than 8 percent of its territory, a dramatic decrease during the 20th century. There are many worthy causes beyond apricots to ensure the health, self-sustaining prosperity, and cultural inheritance of Armenia in the 21st century. Please consider a donation to the Fund for Armenian Relief, which provides many innovative programs in every aspect of a productive and compassionate society. There is also the Armenian General Benevolent Union, which promotes Armenian heritage throughout the world and provides major funding to sustain the innovations taking place at the American University of Armenia. Please find an opportunity to visit Armenia and taste the sweetness of fresh apricots and experience the kindness and generous spirit of the Armenian people.

Certificate Presentation

As the creator and instructor for the Biomedical Libraries for the 21st Century: Resources and Services short course, I had the privilege to create and present a certificate to three of my students on my last night in Armenia. Pictured with me, from left to right, are Anush Toneyan PhD, Astghik Markosyan, MD, and Ara Nazaryan MD. The other students that successfully completed minimum attendance and assignment requirements would receive their certificates the next day, while I am traveling.

EUFA Euro2008 Final- Fuel to Cheer

Sharon and I went to Gevorg's home to watch the EUFA Euro2008 Final on Sunday night. The game did not start until 11:45pm Armenian time, so we had a pre-game take-out feast of Armenian barbecue which arrives wrapped in a layed cylinder of the traditional Armenian lavash flat bread. You peel back the lavash on a platter to to reveal meat and vegetable combinations. Then you grab a hunk of the lavash bread, wrap some barbeque, and then...well...take a look at my face. Yes, you have to wash these wraps down with something...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Going Away Party--Charlie makes pizza!

All my Yale and Connecticut colleagues know I am in my element when the dough rises, the oven temperature is accurate, and the toppings are fresh. Fresh tomato sauce, fresh basil, eggplant, peppers, etc. We are using the apartment that one of my researcher cohort students shares with her parents (they were conveniently away at a summer location). In this picture is Sharon from Yale and a special young friend who wanted to make pizza too (just like my daughter did).

Visit to the American University of Armenia

The American University of Armenia is an American-style graduate school founded in 1991, becoming a reality thanks to the steadfast support of key internal Armenian goverment ministers in the fledgling Armenian independent government and two major institutions in the United States: the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and the University of California (UC) . The Library at AUA is moving into a newly constructed campus building in November, and the former library building will be converted to other uses. Library Director Satenik (Bella) Avakyan and Reference Librarian Hasmik Galstyan provided a warm reception and tour of the whole school. Of course I was prepared to give a reference librarian the YUL t-shirt.

Final Lunch in Armenia near Cascade

On my final full day in Armenia (for this trip!), following my blogging in the internet cafe (my first encounter with the morning shift there) and a shower, I headed out for a last look for impressions and a rendezvous with the U.S. Embassy representative that arranged a visit to the American University of Armenia Library. I stopped for lunch at a cafe right at the base of the Casade Museum, and I had this wonderful fresh mint ice tea (with purreed mint) and some light pasta. The hostess was typical of all things warm and open about Armenian people.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Afternoon: Vardavar!

There is a great description of Vardavar here. I was warned by my friends to dress in clothes that would not be hurt by a drenching, so I wore jeans and a t-shirt and left my leather wallet and camera at home. During my expedition to Vernissage there was no problem, but as I waited for my friends to pick me up to go to a water park for fun with vardavar frenzy, I could see kids already bringing their buckets to the Republican Square fountain and looking for automobiles with open windows. I was taken by my friends to a new Tufenkian Heritage Hotel which was hosting an open house for Armenian Cultural presentations (read place for politicians to speak on a Holiday) with food, dancing presentations, and, inevitably, a water-bucket fight that started at 2:00pm, after the beautiful costumed dancers and musicians were safely out of sight. We only had a few minutes to awaken the worst aspects of your inner child (finding a dry victim for your bucket of water) before deciding to call it an afternoon. Still, quite memorable. My camera stayed dry at home.
Photo from