Goris, Armenia – This summer, one of Organization Terre et Culture (OTC-Land and Culture Organization’s French chapter), campaigns was in partnership with the sister cities of Vienne, France and Goris, Armenia. On July 25th, 20 young French and French-Armenian volunteers from Vienne arrived in Goris to continue renovation on the 1771 Sourp Astvatzatzin Church near the pagan era caves in Old Goris. Local Goris youth and city officials welcomed the group with French and Armenian flags. In Goris City Hall, Mayor Nelson Voskanyan warmly greeted the volunteers from France.
During the hot summer campaign, the French and Armenian volunteers were busy cleaning the interior of the church, clearing the roof and exterior, while archaeologists were on site for excavation work at the church and the nearby caves. “I heard about the project from the City of Vienne and was interested in participating in this program as it is important to work with the City of Goris in this historical project”, said Vienne city firefighter Mehdi Bourahla. Joseph Papazian from OCT and the Vienne-Goris Sister City Program is overseeing and serving as liaison of the project.
Joining and supporting the Vienne/OTC volunteers in the project were local Armenian student and youth groups from the Goris University Student Council, Goris French Language Center, David Bek’s Pilgrims, high school students, as well as Goris municipal workers and citizens. Goris and its Syunik Region have had a long-standing relationship with the French dating back to the late 1800s when there was a French copper factory in the area.
This year's annual meeting of the Union International de Organisation Terre et Culture (UIOTC/Land and Culture Organization (LCO) of chapters from France, the United States, Armenia, the United Kingdom, and Belgium was held in Lyon and Vienne, France. During the meeting, they had the opportunity to meet with officials from the City of Vienne and discuss the sister-city renovation project of Sourp Astvatzatzin. Patrick Curtaud, Deputy Mayor for Culture, Heritage, Tourism, and International Relations is overseeing the project on behalf of Vienne. This project is in collaboration with the Vienne-Goris Sister City Association, the City of Vienne, the City of Goris, the Rhone Alpes Region, Council General of l'Isere, Deputy of l'Isere, community of Agglomeration of Vienne County, City of Romans, and the Bullukian Foundation.
The city of Vienne, France, located about an hour from Lyon, is a quaint French town built on ancient Roman ruins. Of Vienne’s population of 30,000, the Armenian community of 3,000 has a strong presence and very active in French-Armenian relations. Vienne is home to an April 24, 1915 Street (Rue de 24 Avril, 1915), Armenian Cultural Center, and Armenian Genocide Memorial and khatchkar (stone cross). The community mostly encompasses descendants of the Armenian Genocide who migrated from Marseille to work in the local factories.
In addition to the Goris project, this summer OTC/LCO also returned to complete the early 18th Century Sourp Astvatzatzin Church in Yeghvard, Armenia and continued its renovation of the 7th Tchitchkhanavank Monastery in Shirakamut, Armenia. The over 60 volunteers at the three campaign sites gave their hearts, sweat, and soul to the mission of preserving Armenian heritage sites.LCO conducts all renovation projects in conjunction with historical and architectural experts in order to restore and resemble its original legacy.
For over 30 years, LCO has been one of the earliest volunteers groups in Armenia and Karabakh working to restore, renovate, and rejuvenate the historical monuments and sites of our nation. It has performed this mission through its summer campaigns, by volunteers of every age from the Diaspora and Armenia. To help our mission or join in our summer volunteer program, you may reach us at www.lcousa.org.