Just a few months ago, Manuk Avedikyan was sitting aboard a ferry on the Bosporus Sea, overlooking the cultural and architectural exquisiteness of modern-day Istanbul, a city that divides Europe and Asia.
The 22-year-old history student at CSUN has long had a thirst for cultural exploration and a curiosity that has sent him off to a number of different places abroad. He says his passion for music, history and “all things culture” could be linked to his upbringing right here in Los Angeles.
As early as ninth grade, Avedikyan began exploring the wonders of philosophical and intellectual thought through the teachings of Confucius. Avedikyan said the subject of philosophy further sparked his interest in understanding the emotional and spiritual aspects of life. His father, a doctor of oriental medicine, constantly encouraged Avedikyan to always remain a student in life.
“He (my father) always gave me advice on what to read,” Avedikyan said. “We would always end up engaging in conversations about philosophy. Perhaps this is the reason to why I love talking to a lot of my friends’ parents today.”
Another passion of Avedikyan’s is music. After buying his first drum set in 2003, his perspective and general outlook toward understanding the different aspects of music widely changed.
“After I bought my first drum set, I started listening to the instruments more as opposed to only the vocals,” he said. “I guess you can say I became a musician.”
His collection of music is as colorful and rich as his personality. Each artist, album and song has a significant place in his heart, he said. One of Avedikyan’s favorite artists while growing up was Bob Marley.
“For me, Marley is a teacher of hope and love through an intelligent form,” Avedikyan said.
When he’s not traveling the world or reading books about the politics of post-Soviet Russia, Avedikyan can also be seen rocking the stage with his band, Valley Circle. He and his friend, Raffi Hamassian, have dedicated the last few years of their lives to creating songs which Avedikyan describes as “works of art.”
“We tried pushing the edge as hard as we could,” Avedikyan said. “Not a lot of people complete works of art before they die and I could say that we (Hamassian and I) have accomplished that.”
Avedikyan’s journey to Istanbul this past summer was an important milestone in his life. Coming from an ethnic Armenian background, his family originally immigrated to the United States from Turkey back in the 1970’s as a result of economic, social and political instability in the country.
“I had to limit myself not to love it too much. It’s a country where my ancestors came from and I think I have a deep connection with the land,” Avedikyan said. “On the other hand, it’s also a county that a lot of Armenians have been taught to see in a negative light due to our history. It’s very difficult to sort it out emotionally.”
Avedikyan says his passport could essentially tell a book of tales. With each visa symbolizing a different chapter, he has been to cities such as Athens, Moscow, Paris, Brussels and Istanbul. However, one of his favorite places to visit is the Republic of Armenia.
“Out of all the places I’ve been to, I will always have the desire to visit Armenia simply because I think every Armenian belongs there. It’s my second home,” Avedikyan said.
During the summer of 2009, Avedikyan made his way to his homeland for the third time through the help of the Christian Youth Mission to Armenia.
“We (CYMA) helped restore old houses in the city of Gyumri and it definitely felt rewarding,” Avedikyan said. “One of the defining moments for me in Armenia was when I began to make good friends with the locals. That was special.”
Avedikyan plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in history in the spring. After graduation, Avedikyan said he hopes to further continue his studies at the university.
“As of now, I hope to get a master’s degree and eventually a Ph.D. in history and take a teaching position in the future,” Avedikyan said.