Where in the world is Davit Gasparyan?

Susanna Melo, Anush Chubaryan, and Davit Gasparyan pose outside a cafe by Republic Square in Yerevan, Armenia; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Story by Susanna Melo

As an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher in the United States, I taught many children from around the world, but throughout the years, only one from Armenia. Davit Gasparyan was a student who was easy to remember. He was bright, worked hard, loved to write, enjoyed discussions and never missed an opportunity to talk about Armenia. At the end of fourth grade, he left A.C. Moore Elementary in Columbia, SC, and I never heard of him again.

While visiting Yerevan, I was curious to learn if I had the slightest chance of meeting up with Davit, whom I had not seen in more than 3 years. Of course, he could be living anywhere in the world, but Yerevan seemed to be a place to start my search. I Googled “Gasparyan and the University of South Carolina,” and came up with the name of a 2009 Muskie Fellow that just “could have been” Davit’s father; the year coincided with the time I taught Davit. The lead was right. I found Davit, who is now a very handsome 14-year old!

Over a two-hour period, sipping mint iced tea at a café on Republic Square, Davit, his mother Anush Chubaryan, Keith and I enjoyed catching up on everyone’s news. We learned that Davit is back in Columbia attending Hand Middle School, while his mother completes her PhD in Education Policy at USC.

In addition to recent news, we learned that Davit’s family is quite amazing. His maternal grandfather, Edward Chubaryan, was one of the founders, vice-presidents and professors of Theoretical Physics at Yerevan State University. It was also very interesting to learn that Davit’s great uncle, Ghukas Chubaryan, created the magnificent sculptures in front of two important institutions in Yerevan. At the Matenadaran (one of the richest manuscript depositories in Armenia housing manuscripts from the fifth century on) sits the grand sculpture of Mesrop Mashtots, founder of the Armenian alphabet in 405 AD, and his pupil Koryun. The other monument stands in front of the Yerevan Opera Theater. It portrays the composer, conductor, public figure and founder of Armenian classical music, Alexander Spendiaryan.

Given Davit’s heritage, it is not surprising that he is such a talented and bright student, who, by the way, loves art and creative writing!

Alexander Sendiaryan statue by Ghukas Chubaryan, in front of the Yerevan Opera Theater; copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.

Statue of Mesrop Mashtots and his pupil Koryun by Ghukas Chubaryan; copyright Susanna Melo, 2012.


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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