A pomegranate tree in the Armenian culture symbolizes good fortune and prosperity.
Now this beacon of hope will extend its branches into the fabric of this campus to create a strong sense of community by planting deep roots of identity.
On Friday, April 27, the Armenian Students’ Association (ASA) is hosting an event to commemorate the Armenian genocide and provide information to try to prevent similar situations from occuring again, but also bring awareness to their culture.
Raffi Kahwajian, program specialist, said the main portion of the event is a tree planting and it was a part of a bigger discussion the advisors and support system of the club having been having for at least a year.
Kahwajian said that the most important piece of the event is to start a conversation among people on campus.
“The more we do that, share our stories and listen respectfully to others, we’ll just have a better understanding for the human condition,” Kahwajian said. “We’ll see how we all have commonalities. We are linked with similar struggles in both good times and bad times. Whether it’s historically or just what makes us who we are as human beings.”
Edouard Tchertchian, professor of math, and Yeprem Davoodian, department chair of communication studies, are the co-advisors of the ASA. While Kahwajian and Nune Mikayelyan, senior secretary of student success, also lend a hand, but have more of a faculty input.
Mikayelyan said she hasn’t worked at Pierce two years yet, but she realized there is a prominent Armenian identity on campus. She said the advisors wanted to allow the students the opportunity to revive a defunct club.
“We made sure to incorporate diversity and inclusion in the mission statement of the ASA. It’s not limited to any cultural origin, it’s just very inclusive in terms of who could join and who can participate.” Mikayelyan said.
Kahwajian said the event is important to their culture, but also the the ASA.
“Everything about us is student driven, Nune is that type of person. Yeprem and Eddie are all about students. I myself try to collaborate and just push supporting students as much as I can.” Kahwajian said.
The ASA will be planting a pomegranate tree because it is important to the Armenian identity.
“We chose that tree because it has some cultural significance. It shows up often in music and art for centuries,” Kahwajian said. “It represents prosperity, abundance, fertility. Sometimes it’s used in connection with like a wedding or wedding ceremony.”
Paul Nieman said that the tree can only be planted in one area of the campus.
“Our current plant pallet allows for certain species of trees to be planted in certain areas of the campus,” Nieman said. “They want to plan a pomegranate tree because of the significance with Armenian genocide and their history and that is a species of tree that can be planted in the farm area.”
Nieman said the tree will be planted on El Rancho Road across from the developing Earth Sciences Building.
Nieman said the school tries to do something every year for Arbor Day because Pierce is a Tree Campus USA.
Pierce received the designation last year and is among two schools in the district that has it, the other being Los Angeles Valley College.
Nieman said three years ago trees were planted on the north end of Rocky Young Park and since then a tree has been planted yearly.
Kahwajian said a plaque will be placed with the tree as well. It will provide information about the significance of the tree in Armenian culture as well as the genocide.
“This tree can just be a marker on campus where if anyone walks by they can read the plaque and say, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. You planted this tree,’ but there’s a reason why in this one particular culture it has significance,” Kahwajian said.
The event is on April 27, on El Rancho Road at 10 a.m. and is supposed to include cultural music, a speech from a member of the ASA, students from a local Armenian private school and a tour of the Earth Sciences Building.
Davoodian said the planting of the tree is a way to document what happened and look to the future.
“This is one symbolic way of sort of shedding light on the past and moving forward,” Davoodian said.