Notes From Hairenik
The entire day I was at the Tumo Center in Ajapynyak where the TEDx Yerevan talks were held. I went in there not knowing what to really expect. I was visiting the States last year when they were held and I think the year before, so I really wanted to be present.

I saw some videos online of last year's speakers and of course I've watched random TED talks on YouTube. Some of the speakers I recognized by name, but most of them were unknown to me. Let me just say that it was one exciting day where there was an aura of knowledge and insight just gleaming, there was no way of avoiding any feeling of inspiration and admiration for these speakers. Just going up on stage to talk to a crowd of a couple hundred people, so naturally as if you're only talking to one person, is a huge feat in my opinion. The creativity energy was flowing everywhere, and a few times I just had to sit down during the breaks and jot down notes on my impressions on what was happening, what I was feeling in the moment.

I won't write too much about the speakers and what they discussed since all the videos will be online before long on the TEDx Yerevan web site. But I thought I would just mention some speakers in particular whose talks you should definitely view when they become available: Armen Berjikly on "When change is not a choice," Madlene Minassian's "Sticker or Sicker Solution,” "Defy and Conquer" by Patrick Sarkissian, Ara Oshagan's "The Documentary Image as Identity," which featured some very powerful images portraying Armenian identity in Artsakh and California where he lives, Bernard Khoury's "Interventions in Problematic Zones" where he showcases many of his architectural wonders he designed for a war-ravaged Beirut on the rebound, "Do You Speak Music" by Sima Cunningham and "Watch What You Say, People May Listen to You” by Sevan Kabakian. 

That last talk by Kabakian was especially inspiring and hit home for me since he discussed the sickness, or what he described as the "cloud of negativity," of the fatalistic "the country's not a country" (yerkire yerkir che) mentality that I have criticized many times on this blog and Footprints Armenia as well. His point being, after listening to a typical tirade about how everything sucks and nothing's going to change, is to respond, simply, "What's next?" The perfect, forthright yet most meaningful response you could ever give.

I also want to note that Sima Cunningham is a very talented young singer/songwriter and she's bound to attract a lot more attention as the years pass. I was also quite impressed with the performances by Tsolak Mlke-Galstyan's MIHR dance group -- expressive, sensual movements on stage that seemed so natural, so fluid.

I almost forgot to mention the emcee, Sergey Sargsyan, who is one of the most witty young people in Armenia today. He and his comedy partner Narek Margaryan have a string of news parody videos on YouTube inspired by Jon Stewart's shtick that are hilarious to watch. I think most are in Armenian but I remember seeing one in English. Anyway, he was the perfect guy to have up there introducing the speakers and always lightening the mood.

It's always a wonderful feeling to be inspired, especially when you're living in an enigmatic, yet enchanting place like Armenia.

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6 Comments:
Anonymous Ani said...
I was there too. Too bad no one introduced us since we read each others blogs since a while already.

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
It's never to late to meet!

Anonymous Ani said...
I wrote a post about it too :)

Blogger msg_dave said...
This post showed up on another site repatarmenia.org and I noticed it keeps circulating without any mention of my talk - Despite the fact that we met! :) Dave Bequette

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
Hi Dave, not mentioning your talk or our meeting in this post was not intentional, I actually meant to mention your talk specifically. Certainly, your experiment with getting the women selling the tokens in the metro to smile was something that really stuck with me. I noticed long ago that they seem to hate everything and everyone, and I guess I can't blame them since likely no one approaching the window actually bothers to talk to them. Even when I say "barev tsez," I am either ignored or I get a "huuuh" in response.
I really admire you for what you're doing in Armenia, I should have made that clearer before. Hope to see you again soon.

Blogger msg_dave said...
Christian, thanks for the kind words. I posted this completely out of fun as its been a running gag lately as friends come up to me and say "weren't you one of those TEDx speakers". It was great seeing you the other night and I hope to see you more around town. And thank you for introducing me to your blog. Great stuff!

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