Inter-Prelacy Youth Conference Held in Antelias


From July 14-16, 2016, an Inter-Prelacy Youth Conference titled “Social Media and Youth” was held at the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon, under the auspices of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. The conference was organized jointly by the Catholicosate of Cilicia Youth and Audiovisual Departments. Ms. Zabel Karaghossian participated from the Western Prelacy and presented a report on the activities of our youth groups.

Participants first met with His Holiness Catholicos Aram I at St. Mary Monastery in Bikfaya. His Holiness welcomed the participants and stated that the Catholicosate considers the youth as important contributors to Armenian communities everywhere, and urged them to support the Church in its vocation to safeguard Armenian identity. Referring to the theme and agenda of the conference, His Holiness stressed that discussions should focus on responsible and constructive use of technology for the benefit of community building and for sharing the spirituality of the Church. Participants then were given a guided tour of the newly renovated St Mary’s Monastery and Seminary and the recently erected 100th Anniversary Genocide Memorial monuments.

Thursday’s session included workshops, presentations and discussion by the participants on the youth activities of their respective Prelacies, and a presentation on the history of the Catholicosate of Cilicia. A visit to the Catholicosate “Cilicia Museum” followed, and in the evening the participants met with members of the Armenian Church University Students’ Association. Alongside presentations and discussions, Friday’s session focused on the legal claim filed by the Catholicosate of Cilicia at the Turkish Constitutional Court and also getting to know the Catholicosate website and social media pages. A visit to the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ “Aram Bezikian” Museum followed.

The three-day conference concluded on Saturday under the spiritual guidance of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I. Very Rev Bedros Manuelian opened the meeting at the “Cilicia Museum” Hall, telling the participants that the theme “Social Media and Youth” demonstrates the determination of His Holiness to strengthen reciprocity between the youth and the church through new technology.

His Holiness delivered his message to the youth, in which he stated that because modern technologies of communication have become very powerful, each user of social media must consider how he or she uses that power. He advised the participants to be aware of what they post on social media for they have the potential to influence others. He also cautioned them not to be swayed by the dominant global culture, but rather to keep their identity strong and work to preserve Armenian culture and identity founded on the spiritual values of our church.

The sessions continued with a number of presentations, including; “Social Media and Education” by Mrs. Shaghig Kandaharian-Khoudaverdian, “The Positive and Negative impact of Social Media” by Mrs. Tamar Hasheolian, “Social Media and Identity” by Dr. Antranik Dakessian. Three other speakers, Mrs. Christine Arzoumanian-Ghazarian, Ms. Araz Kojayan and Mr. Aram Somounjian addressed the topics “branding,” “content creation,” “blogs” and “the art of photography.” The last session focused on “Social Media and the Armenian Cause,” presented by Mr. Hrag Avedanian and Mr. Shiraz Djerdjian. Citing the example of the attack on Artsakh by Azerbaijan a few months prior, the speakers addressed the misuse of technology for propaganda purposes.

In conclusion, the conference adopted a statement highlighting the following:

Modern communication technologies, including social media, accompany youth in all aspects of their lives. The conference calls upon them to think critically before making their choices of what to communicate.

New media could become a tool for youth to express Armenian identity through projects launched on the internet or through the organization of thematic forums.

Internet networks are developing with great speed; because it has become impossible for youth not to be involved, the conference asks them to use the media carefully.

Safeguarding Armenian identity in an age of globalization is a profound challenge. The conference calls upon the participants to work to strengthen Armenian cultural heritage and their Armenian identity.

New media and networking are new means for building solidarity, new friendships and virtual communities. The conference warns youth not to sacrifice their actual community for a virtual one.

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