Off to a Good Start: AVC Hybrid Program Commenced at Topalian School
The AGBU Armenian Virtual College and Topalian Armenian School in Geneva create opportunities for young students to receive quality Armenian education and connect with their heritage.
The Topalian school was established in 1994 thanks to the efforts from Hagop Topalian, a patriot and philanthropist, whose main goal was to preserve the culture and national identity of the Armenians in the Diaspora. Soon after his first visit to Switzerland in the 1960’s, Hagop Topalian initiated and sponsored the construction of the first Armenian Church in the country - the St. Hagop church in Troinex (Geneva). In 1985, after moving to Geneva from Italy, he established a foundation to provide funding for the first Armenian school in Switzerland. Several years later, the Topalian school opened its doors to the first 20 students.
Staying true to its motto, «ՀայԱպրինք» (Let’s live Like Armenians), the Topalian school continues to offer weekly classes in Armenian language and culture to about 50 boys and girls of different ages. The school’s teachers and principal spare no efforts and employ modern educational tools and technology to ensure that their students make most of their classes.
The collaboration between AVC and the Topalian School started in 2018, following the visit of AVC’s Founding President Yervant Zorian to Geneva and his meeting with the school’s authority. “I was highly impressed with the enthusiasm and positive energy in the Topalian school, from students, to teachers, to the principal”, stated Dr. Zorian, “I was certain that bringing in the e-learning advantages of the AVC courses to the school program can be an excellent addition. I am particularly thankful to the Topalian school team and Mr. Vahe Gabrache for making this happen”.
In January 2019, the school started a Western Armenian course with AVC’s hybrid education program. Maral Wurry, a teacher at the Topalian school, uses the online lessons in her class. Ms. Wurry has studied at AVC for several terms and draws on that experience in her own teaching.
“We hope that our collaboration will AVC will be successful, and in the coming years all the Topalian students will be studying with these innovative courses,” said the school principal, Ani Mesrobian.
On December 12, 2018, the Topalian students took part in an interactive online event on the Armenian traditions of celebrating Christmas and New Year. AVC online teacher Zepur Kheblikian and hybrid program coordinator Arpine Tavakalyan facilitated the event via Skype. The children listened to their presentation with great interest, watched the videos, sang along to the songs and answered the riddles.
Another AVC social event dedicated to the 150th anniversaries of Hovhannes Tumanyan and Komitas took place on March 6, 2019. The children prepared in advance and learned Tumanyan’s poems and stories. The event was held during the week of Barekendan, and all the children were dressed up in costumes. Zepur Kheblikian told them about Tumanyan’s “Barekendan” and other stories, asked questions and hosted games, making the event more engaging for the young audience.
Ms. Kheblikian also guided them on a virtual tour of Tumanyan’s childhood home in the village of Dsegh. Surprisingly, the grandmother of one of the girls, who was also present at the event, was born in the same village and shared some childhood memories about life in Dsegh.
“The students were full of joy and enthusiasm after this beautifully and professionally conducted online event. It was an interesting and exciting experience for everyone involved,” said Maral Wurry.