“I would like to complete all the courses offered by AVC because I think they are really well done.” 04/26/2024

AGBU AVC e-learner Francesco Giommoni from Italy has a unique story of discovering the rich Armenian culture through various turns of events and personal connections. The story begins in 2011 when he moved to Venice and decided to study Asian languages at the Ca’ Foscari University.


Near the university, there was an institution that captured Francesco's attention every time he passed its gates, making him wonder about the writings on the palace-like building.


That institution turned out to be the Armenian Mekhitarist college, Moorat Rafael. Financed by two wealthy Armenians from prominent families in India, Samuel Mkrtich Murad (Moorat) and Eduard Rafael, the college provided high-quality academic education with a respected staff of teachers.


During his studies, Francesco learned about Eastern Christianity, which is where he had his first introduction to Armenian culture by his professor of Armenian Language and Literature. He especially remembers being fascinated by a lecture on Christianity in Armenia. He also studied the history of the Caucasus, and his teacher later became his supervisor for his master's thesis.


Later, Francesco had the opportunity to visit San Lazzaro degli Armeni, a small island in Venice lagoon that has been home to a Mekhitarist monastery since 1717.


Not just places, but also people played a part in Francesco’s growing interest in Armenian culture. “I had the chance to meet some Armenians in Italy and abroad and I have always got on really well with all of them and this encouraged me to deepen my knowledge on Armenia, the Armenian language and culture through books and movies, the main one being “La masseria delle allodole” by Antonia Arslan.”


Later, when Francesco was living in Turkey, he came across the AGBU AVC website and decided to enroll in the Armenian Language online course. “It was during the lockdown, and I thought I would attend and see if I liked it or not. I started with Eastern Armenian,” Francesco says.


All these years later, he is still an active AGBU AVC e-learner and an avid Armenian language and culture enthusiast. “I would have never imagined that after 4 years I would have completed 4 courses of Eastern Armenian, 3 courses of Western Armenian (currently attending the 4th) and 2 courses of Armenian History (currently attending the 3rd) at AVC.”


“My knowledge of the Armenian language was zero but now I can read texts in Armenian quite well. Unfortunately, I have never had the chance to visit Armenia, and this implies that my spoken Armenian is not as good as my writing and reading, but I am working on that too,” he says.


Fortunately, in addition to self-study lessons, the AVC courses include one-on-one sessions with the online instructor, as well as various social events and group gatherings to make practicing spoken language easier.


“I would really like to complete all courses offered by AVC because I personally think that they are really well done, and the teachers, in my case Marine Khachaturyan and Ani Dekirmenchyan, have always been friendly and helpful with the students, making me more interested in Armenian language and culture.”


AGBU AVC Senior Online Instructor Ani Dekirmenchyan, in turn, describes Francesco as an intelligent, dedicated and diligent student. “He is very serious about his Armenian lessons, takes all my corrections and feedback into consideration and tries to improve. He also enthusiastically participates in AVC social media projects. I am sure that Francesco will reach new heights,” she says.


Currently, Francesco is focusing on learning Western Armenian. “Since 2020 I started a Master’s degree in Turkish studies and I focus a lot on Greeks and Armenians of Turkey, including their history, traditions and languages so I would really like to have the chance to get in contact with more Armenians from Turkey to know about the history of this community.”


Since 2022, he has been living in Central Asia, where there are many Armenian communities. “So, I can say that starting from 2020 when I enrolled in AVC for the first time, my life has been surrounded all the time by Armenians and Armenian culture.”


Francesco’s next goal for enriching his knowledge is to explore Armenian culture by visiting Armenia and other historical lands, such as Eastern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Georgia and Iran. His aim is to learn more about Armenian communities and, as he says, “be more involved in sharing the Armenian heritage.”