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April 1, 2013

Armenian Student Association

The Armenian Student Association is a campus organization located in several campuses including UC Irvine. It is organized around the objective of bringing Armenian students together, in a bid, to celebrate their social and cultural heritage within a foreign country. This essay will explore some of the aspects that ASA spearheads in campuses, with insight about these activities being shared by ASA’s president and vice president. As will be depicted in this essay, ASA is an organized group with an executive board managing several events around campus. One of the strengths of ASA is the ability to hold large functions such Armenian cultural awareness events, and the genocide event. These activities aid in spreading awareness about the Armenian culture across campus hence help in interpersonal interactions between Armenians and the rest of the campus fraternity. However, holding these momentous events may undermine the significance of small events that also aid in spreading this awareness; hence presenting a disadvantage for the organization. This essay will project various aspects of ASA, and its significance in educational institutions.

ASA is among the leading student organizations founded in United States with its conceptualization being in 1910 (“History”). A group of few Armenian students came together, in a bid, to create an organization that represented their interests, as well as, helped them converge in celebrating their heritage. Apart from creating their own community, the Armenian students wanted to incorporate Armenian studies in campuses, in a bid, to spread awareness of their heritage to the rest of the student body, as well as, inform the modern Armenian community about their heritage. With this in mind, The Armenian Student Association was formed. The students did not have an organizational model during the inception of ASA. All they had in mind is that an organization that brought Armenians together was vital. In realizing this objective, the pioneer students met ones every week, and organized events that recognized and spread awareness about the Armenian culture and society. These meetings propelled ASA to the success heights it enjoys currently. The mission of the UC Irvin organization was, and still is to unite all Armenians through cultural, social and informative events. UC Irvine subsidiary organization at times unites with other ASA’s subsidiaries in various campuses across the state. They include California UC and Cal State, and together they form a superior body known as ALL-ASA. This unification aids in organization events on a large scale, which is quite advantageous as members from different branches interact and share information pertaining to their experiences in ASA. This aids in creating awareness on a large scale with different branches borrowing strategies from each other. ALL-ASA is currently to organize bigger events that integrate numerous branches of ASA.

The current structure of ASA in UC Irvine is made up of an executive board. The board incorporates a president, vice president, a secretary, social chairperson, cultural chair person, historian, as well as, a representative. As has now been the norm, the executive members gather for meetings once every week. During this meeting, big and small events are organized with planning being spearheaded by the members in the executive board. Apart from the executive board meetings, a general meeting is held prior to any event. This meeting is privy to all members of the organization who are informed about upcoming events, their significance, as well as, the members’ roles in the events. Through the meetings, the members are informed whether the event will be social, cultural or educational, as well as, given information about the speakers scheduled for the event.

The structure of the ALL-ASA is made up of a board of trustees with nine members that serve for three consecutive years. After this, an election is held at each annual convention and three year tenure is started. Members of the executive board are the chairperson, vice chairperson, treasurer, secretary and five board members (“ASA Board of ….”). The board works in an advisory capacity to other branches of the association such as UC Irvine’s ASA. It is tasked with administration of funds collected through the organization. Moreover, it submits opinions and reports to the Annual Convention or Central Executive Committee, in a bid, to implement objectives of ASA. The Central Executive Committee is tasked with the coordinating role of activities at every branch of ASA. The committee also oversees the national standing committees’ activities. The national standing committees include Scholarships, Gold Medal Award, Sarafian Award and Dadian Award among others (“ASA Central Executive Committee”). Other executive committees that are in the organization include the Boston ASA, New Jersey AS, New York ASA, as well as, Providence ASA among others (“Armenian Students Association …”).

In realizing its mission, ASA carries various events as previously mentioned. The events are essentially meant to unite the Armenian community based in campus. Cultural shows are part of tradition with professors among other guest speakers being invited to give their talks on various Armenian aspects. Some of the topics incorporated in the cultural shows include Armenian history courses and modern Armenian events (John & Jessica, np). In keeping with some of these topics, the organization joins up with professors and the humanities department in developing Armenian related classes. This initiative is quite successful in UC Irvine as community members make donations on an annual basis through the humanities department, in a bid, to support the Armenian classes. With regard to the strong support, Armenian History classes were first integrated in UC Irvine in December 2007 (Eestone, np). The goal of the classes was to teach students about the modern and ancient Armenian history. In fall 2008, the first Armenian history class commenced. In 2012, the cultural show was graced by Professor Richard Hovannisian who is a scholar in Armenian history and wrote the encyclopedia on Armenian history (Eestone, np). The cultural show, which was an educational activity as it was part of a lecture series on Armenian history, attracted 170 students, faculty and local community members through a journey of Armenian history. People got a chance to envision ancient Armenia as images of the people, where they lived and grew up were shared sequentially by the professor. For some, this was an initial of experience of a trip through Armenia, and it brought awareness about the culture and socialization of the Armenians. As mentioned earlier, such activities are supported through donations, and the 2012 event was not different. Professor Charles Barsam donated $ 10,000 on behalf of Orange County Armenian Professional Society (Eestone, np). Dr. Vahe and Armine Meghourine matched their 2011 $50,000 donation with another $50,000 donation during the 2012 event (Eestone, np). The lecture was filmed and broadcasted via television to over 150 countries.<…>

However, despite these successes, ASA faces a weakness in timing. This is because planning of large events sometimes overlaps smaller ones making them lag behind in terms of the impact they have on the community (John & Jessica, np).
In conclusion, this essay has project various aspects of ASA, and its significance in educational institutions. The main mission and objectives of the various events pursued is to unite the Armenian community.

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