News > UAE Armenians > Ηonoring the 25 years service of Tamar Der Ohannessian
The Council of the Armenian Community in Abu Dhabi had organized an evening of paying tribute on Friday 22 February 2008, at 7:00 pm to honor Mrs. Tamar Der Ohannessian for her 25 years undeterred devotion and service as a Principal of the Armenian School in Abu Dhabi and other services rendered in the community affairs.
The event took place in the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Main Club, followed by a reception, buffet style with lent (michink) food served. About 90 people attended, including dozens of pupils.
Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Armenian Community in Abu Dhabi Hagop Arslanian welcomed the guests and highlighted the importance of the event, which comes as a token of appreciation to the long serving and beloved Principal.
Chairman of the Council mentioned in his introduction speech: “Everyone realizes the difficulty in teaching mother language outside the homeland and educating students on Armenian values. Thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Tamar Der Ohannessian and her colleagues this task has been met”.
He addressed Tamar Der Ohannessian saying: “Dear Tamar you would feel satisfied and fulfilled when you witness the encouraging results. You have been rewarded with a medal of acknowledgment from His Holiness Aram I Catholicos of Cilicia. You have been a loyal follower of our first teacher Mesrob Mashdots for many years. We should mention here also your husband Levon who has been supporting you with patience and deep understanding for the importance of your work”.
“It is difficult in few moments to summarize a life long story of dedication and continuous care and attention towards the educational needs of our young generation”, Kojakian concluded.
Tamar Der Ohannessian's biography was presented through slides, covering also the story of the school and other related community activities. The presentation was made by Armen Bious
(Treasurer of the Council
). See the biography here
Armenian School's pupils from various classes participated in the event through reciting and songs. Hagop Hovsepian
, addressed Principal Tamar Der Ohannessian on behalf of his classmates saying:
"Thank you for all your hard work and sacrifice. There is no way we can repay you. Simply because you taught us our mother language. You taught us Armenian. You taught us how to write, read, sing, dance and pray in Armenian. I could never do that stuff without your help. And more importantly you made it easy for me to have Armenian friends. Honestly, you made my life much better. I have been in your school for only 4 years, but that 4 years have changed my life. Sometimes, I thought that I was unlucky because my non-Armenian friends didn’t have to go to a second school. But you made the school a great place that once I go in, I never want to get out. I remember when I first entered your the school, I saw you. I was very impressed that you were patient with little kids, and joked with all of us. Yes, you’re leaving but your spirit remains with us. It is hard to say goodbye but all good things come to an end. Thank you and goodbye Mrs. Tamar Der-Ohannessian. May God bless you".
Graduates gave their tribute as well with bouquet of flowers. Teachers and current Principal presented a large greeting card with their own well wishes documented as a memoir (see photo). A special remembrance gift (a traditional Gulf vessel called dhow) was presented by the Chairman of the Council, who described Principal Tamar as "the captain of the dhow".
Panos Balian addressed the Board of Trustees’ message highlighting Tamar's sincere dedication for more than 25 years.
He welcomed all present with warm wishes and mentioned that this is a unique and unprecedented event to pay tribute to Mrs. Tamar Der Ohannessian for her unconditional and dedicated services as the Armenian School Principal for almost 25 years in Abu Dhabi.
Balian brought to the fore the core issue, which we are facing as Diaspora Armenians. Our language and heritage are facing real challenges and unfortunately are in a downhill and retreat; when it has become extremely difficult nowadays to fetch for individuals who are gifted with the basic features and prerequisites to undertake certain assignments and lead our community life.
He stated that Tamar was from those few gifted people who envisaged a potential risk of disintegration within our community before 25 years and in order to safeguard that she accepted the challenge to teach Armenian language and history to our Children under extremely difficult circumstances.
In his speech Balian mentioned that Tamar, besides being a School Principal, she positively and vividly contributed to all community events. She was a catalyst in the nourishment and prosperity of our community. He appraised her for actively serving two (2) terms as a member of the Legislative Council of Abu Dhabi and the Arabian Gulf Counties from the year 1995 to 2002. She served with utmost sincerity and dedication.
Balian greeted Principal Tamar with following phrases: “Dear Tamar, you worked so hard and restlessly, but never complained of the hardship! You worked till exhaustion, but never mentioned that you were exhausted! You worn and torn your nerves, but always kept yourself intact. With a big smile and optimism you always accomplished the mission. In most cases you did the hardest part and carried the heavy burden, but you insisted that others would be praised and applauded”.
Balian continued saying that while paying tribute and respect to Tamar we might have hurt her humbleness, but the Community Leaders could have not stayed indifferent towards the huge achievement and contribution she had left behind her in our community for the past 25 years.
At the end of his speech Balian praised Mr. Levon Der Ohannessian, Tamar’s husband, for being so supportive and backing Tamar in her career and wished them both a long and prosperous life while serving our community in the best possible way and to reflect this positive image to others.
Gulizar Jonian's (new principal) message was read by Mrs. Arous Ohannessian. Gulizar was out of country on a private trip.
Mrs Tamar Der Ohannessian’s speech was very touchy and contained some humorous parts to alleviate the seriousness of the events. Tamar and all the guests were touched at some point with tears in their eyes....
Tamer Der Ohannessian began her speech by admitting that it was the most difficult speech she had ever prepared. She quoted two lines from a famous poem by Vahan Tekeyan: "Evaluation, what is left to me from this life? Whatever I gave to others, strange enough, was all that was left for me".
Der Ohannessian described the Armenian School as "a source of satisfaction and inspiration. Working there was so much joy". She said that witnessing the enthusiasm of the teachers and the happy faces of the students gave her such satisfaction. "What genuine happiness I experienced every time a student gave me a small gift, a letter or a painting. I have kept all these items", she commented.
Der Ohannessian thanked her husband Levon "who always believed in the necessity of the Armenian school and provided moral and financial support for that cause". She thanked all the teachers, council members and religious representatives who worked for the prosperity of the school. "I would like to specifically mention Mrs. Arous. We both started to serve in the school in the same year. I have retired now but she is still on the frontier. I wish her and all the devoted teachers strength and ability to continue the mission".
Thanking the students and their parents, she emphasized: "A principal and an educational team do not make the school. Rather, a school is the students and parents who believe in the necessity of the Armenian language and education and devote their spare time to the school. This is the essence of being Armenian. Sooner or later an Armenian searches for his roots. Sooner or later an Armenian yearns to learn the Armenian language and history. Those who have the opportunity to make this choice at an early stage in their life, thanks to their conscious parents are very fortunate".
“The earlier, the better” she concluded adding "When you honor a person who has served long years in the Armenian school, you actually show your respect and love towards the school. The honor goes back to you".
At the end of her speech she wished all the best to the new principal and the teachers in this noble mission.
Father Aram Dekermendjian concluded the ceremonial part of the event with an impressive speech emphasizing the great role Der Ohannessian played in the Abu Dhabi and in the UAE Armenian community in general, not only in school but also in various society based activities and intellectual endeavors.
At the end of the event, the guests gathered around nicely set round tables in adjacent restaurant / hall in a friendly ambiance and had their "lent" dinner.
The Council should be highly appreciated for being thoughtful to honor such an individual who dedicated herself to the School and Community affairs for about two and half decades.
We usually are late to honor someone, but the example of Tamar Der Ohannessian was so compelling that paying tribute to her was fulfilled in the right time and with the right manner. She deserves the respect of all and she received it in a most gracious way.
Chairman of the Council presents
the traditional Gulf vessel dhow as souvenir
With members of the Abu Dhabi Council, husband Levon (second from left), Father Aram Dekermendjian and Ambassador Vahagn Melikian (third from right)