Deep-rooted culture

A pomegranate tree holds the Armenian culture with its branches, reaching out to spread inclusivity and history – a symbol of life and tradition.

Pierce is a place that encourages and celebrates diversity and planting a pomegranate tree on campus was a way to commemorate the Armenian heritage.

President of the Armenian Students’ Association Lori Patatian said that with the presence of a large Armenian community in the area, the Armenian Students’ Association wanted to come up with a way to leave a lasting mark for students at Pierce.

“We thought that planting a tree with a plaque would be a good idea,” Patatian said. “We chose a pomegranate tree because it has such a significance in the Armenian community so we thought that it would be the perfect representation of who we are without being overpowering.”

Patatian said she is happy to represent her culture at Pierce.

“It means that I get to spread awareness and people get to learn about my culture and something that I’m so proud about. It’s important to me that people know who are Armenians are. I’m proud to be Armenian,” Patatian said.

Doreen Clay, public relations manager, said she appreciates the diversity of cultures on campus.

“I like the fact that Pierce can support so many different students from all over the world and their heritage,” Clay said.

Paul Nieman, director of facilities and chair of the Campus Tree Care Committee, was in collaboration with many faculty members on campus to host an event for Arbor Day.

When the idea of planting a pomegranate tree in honor of Armenian culture was pitched, the Armenian Students’ Association was invited to a committee meeting to plan the event.

According to Nieman, the Armenian Students’ Association offered to purchase the tree and the plaque that stated the significance of the tree.

On April 27, after a professional team planted the tree earlier in the morning, at 10 a.m. there was a ceremony celebrating the tree and its meaning.

Patatian said the pomegranate tree is supposed to symbolize fertility and abundance and after the Armenian Genocide in 1915, Armenian painters and artists used the pomegranate as a symbol of hope and rebuilding of a nation, with each component of a pomegranate representing a different part of Armenia.

The ceremony included a performance from the Pierce College Choir, led by Dr. Garineh Avakian, assistant professor in voice and choral music.

The choir performed Going Home by Antonin Dvorak and Avakian performed Ganche Krounk by Armenian Folk singer Komitas.

“It was difficult to choose repertoire for this. I took into consideration that the event was in remembrance of the survivors of the genocide in 1915, so I chose [Going Home] for the souls that have passed and [Ganche Krounk] was about the roots because we were planting a tree about the roots of a culture of history,” Avakian said.

Raffi Kahwajian, program specialist, helped with the logistics and planning of the event. He is hoping that when the tree starts to produce fruit, Pierce could find a way to directly benefit students.

Kahwajian said having an event like this brings a lot of cultural education to the community and the school, and the tree planting was an opportunity for students to learn about a different background they may not have learned about otherwise.

“I think that’s education too,” Kahwajian said, “If we learn about one [culture], we should all be open to learning about another one, and then we can see what is common between all human beings and see what kind of challenges we’ve had as people in history and figure out ways we can work together.”