Forced into diaspora at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, Armenians searched for a safe place to seek refuge. All that was left of the once striving race were women, the elderly and small children. After many years, their search came to an end, Beirut, Lebanon became their safe haven.
The Armenian refugees went straight to work in this foreign land, building homes, earning their livings, and sustaining themselves and their families. As the years went by and they finally settled, the first generation was born. This generation witnessed the struggle that their people went through simply to exist.
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The blood sweat and tears which their parents sacrificed would not go in vain. Born on foreign soil, they understood how easily, their culture and heritage could be dissolved into the foreign society that surrounded them. At this time there was an evident need for an organization whose specific goal was to educate the Armenian Youth on their culture, and empower them to preserve their rich heritage.
This generation gave birth to the 7 young poets, writers, visionaries and students, who with their uniform vision founded The Nor Serount Cultural Association, setting out to educate, engage and empower the Armenian youth. After all who better to empower youth than, youth themselves?
This organization was formed in Beirut in 1956 by 7 young members of the SDHP, ManuelAtamian, Hrant Kankrouni, Sarkis Khayian, Kapriel Moloyan,Jirair Nayiri, Hagop Norashkharian, and Bebo Simonian. They showed the new generation that they were not the descendants of victims, rather they were the descendants of survivors. They gave the new generation the responsibility of maintaining the Armenian culture. Without these young minds, the Armenians in diaspora will have assimilated leaving the Armenian people but a chapter in the history books.
The Nor Serount Cultural Association flourished not only in Lebanon, but all over the world. Armenians everywhere living in diaspora adopted the ideologies of The Nor Serount. They created dance ensembles, radio stations, choirs and theatre groups worldwide all with the same vision of the 7 founding members, to preserve our culture and to introduce it to others.
“Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” – William Saroyan