Being born in an Armenian household in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) yet deprived of the means to practice the Armenian language frequently, Maritsa Karagözyan found herself falling away from her ancestral language soon after she graduated from an Armenian pre-school. After that, she continued her studies in Turkish, and it was years later when she rediscovered her passion to improve her skills in Armenian.
“My roots go back to Gesaria (Kayseri). Both my mother and my father knew Armenian. However, it was never practiced much at home,” Maritsa recalls.
Although she did not speak the language very well, she never lost interest in unfolding her Armenian roots and connecting to its thousands of years of traditions. In 2015, Maritsa decided to visit Armenia to participate in one of the most widely celebrated holidays of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Blessing of the Holy Chrism (Myron).
“I visited a lot of churches, sightseeing places, even met and got blessed by Catholicos Karekin II. The time spent in Armenia was priceless.”
Not only was it an enjoyable visit to the home country, but it turned out to be a decisive one too.
“One day, a friend of mine offered me to join her while she was doing her online Armenian Language class, offered by the AGBU Armenian Virtual College. I was very pleased with the course, and I wanted to improve my Armenian.”
Soon after, AVC received Maritsa’s application to enroll in the Intermediate level of the Western Armenian course instructed in the Turkish language.
“I started the lessons. My online instructor was Zepur Kheblikian. I was free to choose my own study hours and I had weekly meetings with the instructor to practice the language in real-time. Now, I consider Mrs. Zepur not only a great instructor but also a good friend, almost a sister of mine.”
“Maritsa is a very attentive, punctual and hard-working student. She has a great love for the Armenian language and the Armenian culture in general. During the whole time of her studies, she was always prepared and participated with great willingness in the online events organized by AVC. Her goal was to improve her Armenian skills, speak the language fluently and enrich her knowledge about Armenia and its culture”, recalls AVC online instructor Zepur.
After successfully passing the Intermediate level, Maritsa continued her studies with AVC and took her knowledge of Armenian to the highest level.
After eventually finding an accessible way of connecting to her Armenian heritage through education, Maritsa continues her thanks to the AVC Founding President Dr. Yervant Zorian, “I am very grateful and want to express my thanks to Dr. Yervant Zorian, especially for the given opportunity for young Armenians to learn and improve their Armenian.”
Despite the lack of opportunities for Armenian education she faced during her younger years, Maritsa is now speaking fluently in Western Armenian. She concludes with a message, “I encourage everyone to learn Armenian, improve their language skills, so that it may live forever.”
With its worldwide presence and accessibility, more than 600 students from Turkey have been or are currently studying at AVC.