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Interview with Jacqueline Kachadourian

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Armenian Oral History Project
Interview with: Jackie Kachadourian
Interviewed by: Aynur de Rouen; Marwan Tawfiq
Transcriber: Marwan Tawfiq
Date of interview: 4 November 2016
Interview Setting: Binghamton University

(Start of Interview)

AD: Okay, so today is November 4, 2016, and I am here with Marwan Tawfiq, and we are interviewing with Jackie Kachadourian. Okay, so Jackie could you please give us your full name?

JK: My full name is Jacqueline Nora Kachadourian.

AD: Okay, and can you tell us when and where you were born?

JK: I was born on July 16, 1997. I am from¬¬– I was born in Johnson City, New York.

AD: At Wilson Hospital?

JK: Yes.

AD: Okay, so why do not you give us some information about your family?

JK: Okay, so on my mom’s side– both my parents are 100 percent Armenian which makes me 100 percent Armenian. On my mom’s side, she was born in Lebanon and her father was born in Antep, Turkey. And her mother was born in Lebanon to my grandfather and my grandmother. And on my dad’s side they were all from Armenia, they had to leave during the genocide and they had to go through Cuba, I believe, to come to the US. But I am more familiar with my mother’s side of the family rather than my dad’s side. And my mom ended up in Lebanon and then she moved to Montreal during the civil war because it was too much. And my dad has always lived in Binghamton, New York. So–

AD: So your dad was born and raised in Binghamton?

JK: Yes.

AD: Okay, so your mom was born in, what ̶ Beirut?

JK: Yes, Beirut.

AD: Beirut. So, when did she move to Montreal?

JK: She moved when she was a teenager around like twelve or thirteen I believe. Her and mother and her father, so my grandmother and grandfather, they all lived in Beirut, my grandfather had a textile factory. So they all stayed there. And on my mom’s side– she has four other siblings. So, all they left first and they got sponsored by one of our family members to go to Montreal and so they went first and then they left my mom and my grandmother and my grandfather and they came afterwards. So–

AD: I see. So, you still have family living in Lebanon?

JK: Yes, actually my– one of my mom’s aunts she just left to go back to Lebanon. So now I have two great aunts still in Lebanon.

AD: They live in Beirut still?

JK: I believe so. I have to check.

AD: They are in Lebanon and you are not sure if it is Beirut or not. So, what is the language, I know you will interview with your mother, you can ask her that, but what is the languages in your household–which language do you guys speak?

JK: We speak English but when my mom is talking on the phone with her family she speaks Armenian so I pick up a few words here and there and then when my grandmother was still alive she, when we were little, she spoke Armenian to us, she only spoke Armenian to us, and we were out and about like in a store or something if my mom wants to say something she would say it in Armenian so other people do not understand which is funny. So I still understand it I just have a harder time speaking it rather than hearing it.

AD: Okay, so how about your dad?

JK: He speaks Armenian but he does not write it, but my mom can write it.

AD: Okay, so did your mom go to Armenian school in Beirut?

JK: I do not think she went to Armenian school, I do not know but she learned Armenian first and then in school she learnt– She learnt Turkish through her family at home because if they did not want to say something– the parents– they spoke in Turkish so they do not understand but they ended up learning it. And then in school she learnt French, English and Arabic because it was Arabic was, in Lebanon you have to learn Arabic–

AD: And French also a mandatory language especially for certain class of people at that time. So, but you speak English at home?

JK: Yeah.

AD: How about your parents? How do they communicate?

JK: I would say seventy percent English, thirty percent Armenian, so like, if my parents want to say something in Armenian then they do not want us to understand, they say it in Armenian but like I can pick up few words, and it might not be the direct translation but I like can kinda get a just of it but my younger brother he does not understand any of it, he understand like one or two words maybe, and my sister, she understands more of it.

AD: So, how many siblings your mother has?

JK: She has four other siblings. So she has an older sister an older– three older brothers and she is the last one.

AD: Okay. And they all live in Montreal?

JK: No, one lives in France and he is like, he helps with the University of– like looking at different energy resources. He used to own a vineyard and now he does research. Yeah.

AD: Oh, where does he live in France?

JK: He lives in the South part of France; I do not know the exact city. But he– when he was in Lebanon he got a scholarship to go to study in France at a University and he did that and then he stayed there.

AD: You never visited him in France?

JK: No, my sister did, I was not born yet and I never had a chance.

AD: So, he does not come here?

JK: He goes to Montreal. I think he has only been to the United States like our area few times.

AD: So, you are not very close to him?

JK: Not as close as my other aunts and uncles.

AD: So, where are the other aunts and uncles?

JK: Well, my aunt lives in Montreal, so does my uncle and one uncle actually passed away a few years ago. He lived in Montreal as well. So they all lived like around fifteen minutes away from each other.

AD: So how did your mother make it to Binghamton, then?

JK: Well, my grandfather on my mom’s side, his sister came to North New Jersey, instead of going to Montreal and so she visited some of her cousins and stuff and they were both, my dad was in north Jersey too at an Armenian Church and it was like after the Church they have like dinner service and so both of them were there and they actually sat at the same table and they met, and–

AD: And they fell in love–

JK: Yeah, I guess so. [laughs]

AD: So, does your mom work?

JK: She used to work with my dad– help out with– because he used to have a law firm and now he works with the Broome County like law department, I do not know with family court. So now he does not have his own law office anymore but she used to work with that and they also, they had like stocks and stuff, so but now she just not really–

AD: She is not working. How old is she?

JK: She is fifty-three. She was born in 1964.

AD: My age, she is one year younger than me.

JK: Okay.

AD: Okay. All right. What is her education? What did she study?

JK: She studied Economics or Accounting in the University of Montreal, I believe, and she like worked at car dealerships and did the accounting for that like paperwork and finance and then when she came here it was different for her so, it is hard–

AD: Oh, isn’t that different for all of us. So, and your father went to school?

JK: Yeah, he went to Binghamton University and then for his law degree he went to Syracuse.

AD: Okay, so he is a lawyer?

JK: Yes.

AD: And, now tell me about your siblings.

JK: I have an older sister, she goes to Binghamton University as well, and she is a Psychology major with a Chemistry minor and she is a senior, she is like– she is twenty-two years old and my other younger brother, and he is at Vestal Middle School, and I believe he is in eighth grade, so.

AD: You believe.

JK: I believe so [laughs], he is twelve years old, or no he is thirteen.

AD: [laughs] Okay, so and you go to Binghamton University as well?

JK: Yes.

AD: And studying?

JK: I am double major studying in Studio Art, the concentration and Painting and the Theatre with the concentration and Costume Design.

AD: But you also mentioned something about Physics?

JK: Yes, I am very interested in minoring in Physics. I want to take a lot of classes but hopefully it will add up to a minor but I am not sure with all the other classes I have but hopefully it works out.

AD: Okay, so, now tell me about growing up, like when your great aunt especially when you see them or your family, do you hear stories about the past?

JK: Yes, of course, especially when I was little they used to tell stories and even now like as you are getting more– understanding more idea of what was going on but like in Montreal whenever we go and visit them, they usually try to inform us of what happened and like what the family went through. For example on my dad’s side one of my aunts she was telling me that like this is one of my great aunts, she was telling me how she had to leave everything of her; birth certificate and everything like no clothes no nothing and she could not– she does not– she did not remember how old she was because they do not have a birth certificate, so it is really interesting.

AD: I see. So do you remember any stories?

JK: Yeah, actually on my mom’s side, my grandfather he was born I believe in 1909 or sometime before the genocide occurred and he remembered walking, he had to do the march– walk and he was in Turkey which was like near Armenia so they had to leave and they walked and she remembered– he remembered that her mother died–his mother died during the walk and it was just him and his father, but– and his other siblings. Also there was a lot of Turkish people obviously, some, like, our neighbors, their neighbors were Turkish, some would helped them which was really interesting some would not help which is obvious, for obvious reasons but it is nice to see that some obviously did help them try and escape and things like that, then on my mom’s side, her– I believe– yeah her father or someone worked for the Army so they got to deceive them so they did not– they were not killed because they were Armenians, so they worked for them to– so would not die.

AD: I see. I see. So, when did you– so you were always aware of being Armenian growing up and what did it represent to you?

JK: It represented strong identity. I always thought– from a young age my mom informed me about being Armenian and things like that so when I was like in elementary school remember doing projects like about our heritage. People would be like what is Armenian. They really did not know what it was except for like European countries and things like that. That was all they really came in contact with but like I did projects like Armenian Genocide and so from a young age I was very informed about who I was and what, where I came from.

AD: Okay. So, what are the things like your mom did in your house that represents Armenian heritage?

JK: She would show me books and stuff like that obviously not war books but we used to go to church, Sunday school when we were little. My grandmother she was a big influence too, told us about like stories of Armenian and like reading the bible in Armenian– there is Armenian bible– ood is a big part of it, we would help her make food and stuff so, over all–

AD: Like any, like– what is it– crafts or I do not know decorations pieces or anything?

JK: Well my grandmother she knew how to sew, so she would show us how to knit and sew, and she would knit us things, and I learned how to knit and sew from her like various not in great detail but I learnt some techniques and then I remember during Sunday school I would do like drawings of Armenia like Armenian flags. And also like American flags too, some American as well. But I– when I was little I always knew I was Armenian and I always a hundred percent Armenian, I do not know from a very young age.

AD: Okay, so is there an Armenian community that your family are part of it here?

JK: There is but is very, the community here is very old, it is getting older and there is not as much people my age, but I feel like now there is going to be a younger generation like so my brother– younger brother’s age like around there. But we used to all go to Armenian Church and everything, Sunday school but I feel like as time went on, people started to leave and like move away to other places because there is not much of an Armenian culture here in Binghamton. So it is very hard to find but in Montreal there is so much more vibrancy of Armenian culture which is really interesting, so.

AD: Yeah, so the people who live here are mostly older people.

JK: Yeah, like my family they are very old and they are a older generation so, I think that it had influence on me though because they are very strict and very strong about their Armenian heritage, so kind of flowed on me but there was a few kids here and there but not too many.

AD: Not too many. So, your dad and your mother met at the church and they married, so do your parents tell you that they would like to see you marrying an Armenian boy or stuff like that?

JK: Yeah, recently my dad, because my sister she is like I am not going find any Armenian boys here [laughs] my age and he said– she asked him do I have to marry an Armenian, she was like joking around–he was like well I married an Armenian because my family died for– the Armenians died to survive their culture and their heritage so it is the right thing to do because of his– the relatives– and they want me to marry an Armenian, I want to marry an Armenian, I think that would be interesting but like I am not going to force myself to marry an Armenian if I do not like them. I do not know– It is a factor but it is not a factor so. I would like to marry an Armenian.

AD: You would like to marry an Armenian in order to continue?

JK: Yeah.

AD: Okay. What else? Do you have anything?

MT: So, do you particularly remember anything or did they tell you anything about the genocide like your grandparents?

JK: My grandfather he died before I was born and then my grandmother on my mom’s side she died in two thousand four so I was quite young but I remember just they would tell me like stories that were really, I do not know very– like the death march they used to talk about that and how they would not get– I remember one of my great aunts they would tell me how they would throw bread at us or at them, their family and they would not–they would have been starving themselves, they did not have anything, they had to leave all their stuff and, yeah I have to–I do not really talk about it with my– on my dad’s side, I have to ask more about it and I believe they came through Cuba and then came up here but–

MT: So has your family visited Armenia?

JK: No. Most of my family on my mom’s side has been to Armenia and then on my dad’s side too, as well they went to Armenia few years ago I believe, like with the church. We never went, I do not think my– I think my dad was too nervous because of the times and like what was going on– it is the Middle East. They do not want to go, but I really want to go. I want to go and help out and do what I can and learn about the culture, I want to go a lot of times hopefully.

AD: Yes, but did anyone, anybody go back to Antep?

JK: Antep, no.

AD: Because that is the home town, right?

JK: Yeah. I do not think they would, because now it is part of Turkey.

AD: It is.

JK: So, I believe before that was maybe part of Armenia, I am not sure.

AD: No, it was Ottoman Empire.

JK: Oh, yeah.

AD: There was no Turkish Republic.

JK: Yeah.

AD: So, the massacre happened actually during Ottoman Empire, so that was like toward the end, and it was part of the Ottoman Empire, all these areas, that massacre took place. So, nobody went back to Antep?

JK: No, I do not think so. I would have to ask, but I do not believe so.

AD: So, and then like the family does not know if anybody left behind?

JK: I am not sure, I would have to ask. I know just my grandfather’s mother she died during the walk and the march.

AD: I mean alive, not dead.

JK: Okay. I have no idea I would have to ask but not sure, maybe like from the orphanages or something.

AD: Yeah. Or maybe they were able to hide or runaway and you know left the East, maybe went to the Western part of the country. I do not know, I mean so many things I am sure happened, different survival tactics.

JK: Yeah, survival instinct, you have to kick in.

AD: Yeah, yeah absolutely. So, were you like told like tales or stories, like little kids, like little Armenian, you know, fairy tale-type of thing or heroic stories and stuff like that, or like maybe little games?

JK: Yeah, I was taught some games in Armenian but–

AD: Like your grandmother, I mean did she–like for example my mother teaches things to my daughter and it is like, you know her generation and or like little songs like do you know any little kids’ song?

JK: I do not know it by heart, but I remember there is a song about like a bird flying–

AD: Can you sing it? [laughter]

MT: How often does the Armenian community meet and get together?

JK: In Binghamton?

MT: Yeah, because I know in the past there were regular meetings in church or for holidays– is that still happening?

JK: Well right now, there is not full-time priest, so I believe they do services every few weeks or so–something because the priest we had a few years ago, he went to North of Jersey and now he works–does it there. But a few– this is like maybe five or ten years ago, not that long, probably five years ago–every year we used to have an Armenian dance in like November, now they stopped doing that but that was really fun to get the community all together we served Armenian food, Armenian dances–

AD: Oh, I wish that was still continuing.

JK: One thing I learned is the Armenian dancing. I learnt a few steps– because there is different songs that go with different dances and that was really fun to learn and we do it now during weddings and things like that which is really nice, which is, but my cousin she actually takes classes in Armenian dancing in Montreal.

AD: Oh, in Montreal– here I am like– Go ahead.

JK: But in the past when I was younger we used to go to our Armenian church every Sunday and like, there was Sunday School, I am not sure if they still have Sunday School. I remember learning some of Armenian Alphabet through that but like I do not remember it anymore, but I learnt a lot of words– like we spoke like tried to learn the language as young kids and there would always be someone teaching it. I believe my dad’s aunt would help teach it and then another lady, as well, too, she would help.

MT: So why did not your mother or father try to teach you Armenian?

JK: After I was older there was not much of a Sunday School because people left and there was not as many kids probably like less than ten of us or something maybe five or something, but I am not sure why. I think because my dad did not write Armenian, he did not– it was kind of hard and once my grandmother she died it was hard for my mom because my grandmother really helped me and my sister– that is why my sister knows the most because she was with my grandmother the most and she would learn from her, and that is how we would learn but after that we kind of stopped but I am trying to– I really want to get back in to it. I really want to learn Armenian. And I think that would really be helpful, like learn it–like how to write and stuff like that.

AD: What are the days the Armenian community here observes like, you mentioned the dance that triggered my mind. So, what else?

JK: Actually we have our own Armenian Christmas. I believe it is January 4th or January 6th, one of those days. And we like to celebrate and go to the Church and have service and then we are very big on Easter. We have different Armenian dishes, yeah.

AD: I know from Turkey, yeah?

JK: Yeah. So we have– like we paint eggs, we play the game, I do not know if you know, we crack the eggs–

MT: Do you paint like red or different colors?

JK: Different colors, I know there is a thing where you paint red but we do not– I do not remember doing that as a kid.

MT: So, you do the American way?

JK: Yeah, I guess so.

AD: Yeah, in Turkey all of– I mean that to me, red eggs, symbolizes Easter to me.

JK: Yeah.

AD: I saw the different colors when I came here because I thought Easter eggs should be red that is the image in my head. So, Easter and is there any other?

JK: I do not think so. We have a– it is not really a holiday but we have a picnic in September for the Binghamton Community, that they have like at the end of the summer I guess. And there is food, Armenian food, and everything that served. So, that is– we used to go that when we were little as well, which was fun.

AD: You do not go anymore?

JK: No, like now I am working after work during the Sunday, so it is hard to go to it, especially as you get older. I wish I could. I want to go. So, I know there is another Armenian holiday during the first half the year. My cousin, she goes to Armenian school and she tells me about it how she gets off on those days, but I have to ask her. Oh, and then obviously the Armenian Genocide, April 24th, that is of course we remember that.

AD: Is there anything going on during that day here? Do they commemorate?

JK: Yeah, we actually have a statue, it is a little kind of like a– looks like a tomb stone, but it is a square and it says we remember the Armenian Genocide. It is right as you cross the Binghamton Bridge like near the Arena in Binghamton, and I remember for the hundredth anniversary, they do this every year, but for the hundredth one like the Mayor came and they just– we have a speaker and they pray and then they talk about what happened. I remember going to it a lot when I was younger but there is usually chairs or tents, usually somebody speaks, I remember always rains during that day, like every year I remember it always rains, I do not know.

AD: Yeah, to me when I hear is like religion is a big factor in identity of Armenian community, am I right. Am I reading this correctly?

JK: Yes, and my parents are very like strict on the– especially my mom, she prays and things like that. She loves going to church when she can. So it is a huge factor in the culture and I believe it is.

AD: Yeah, so the– we can say religion, the food, and maybe dance these are like the main ingredients for the existing Armenian identity?

JK: Also, I would say there is a lot of craftsmanship like carpets in my house there is all like Armenian carpets everywhere, crosses obviously, we have our own Armenian cross, it is not the same as like Catholics or Protestant.

AD: Yeah, Gregorian. So like when your friends came to your house, well obviously since there are not so many Armenians, I assume you did not have many Armenian friends that you hang out with, right?

JK: Yeah of course.

AD: So when they came to your house, did they say oh, this is different or I mean did you hear any comments?

JK: Not, really because being– ike from my dad’s from Binghamton is very Americanized where my mom is very Armenian so it is kind of a good mixture. So, I would say the one differences the food is really interesting. Now, my friends in college they love coming over to my house and eating like the humus, tabbouleh, cheese börek, just a lot of Armenian food they love it. As a younger– as– like I remember having birthday parties when I was young. There would always– it would always like be Americanized, not too much Armenian stuff going on, but I would always tell my friends that I was 100 percent Armenian, they would be like; you have to be a different kind, like you cannot be 100 percent of one kind, so like they really do not understand it, and it was hard for me to explain too, being so young like in elementary school or something like that, so

AD: Yeah.

JK: There is always like, what is that, they do not really know too much about it.

AD: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

JK: But nowadays I think it is easier for people to understand and like especially being older people know what Armenia is, or at least what Turkey is least and I just say it is next to Armenia, so it gives them a good idea, the culture like what is going on, which is nice.

AD: Of course.

JK: Yeah.

AD: Go ahead.

MT: What does Mount Ararat represent to you?

JK: It represents– it is our Armenian unity I think, it is our culture, it represents our strength I believe, so like that is what I think.

MT: Did you hear about the mount from you parents?

JK: Yeah, I heard it from my mom especially there is a lot of–

MT: Paintings.

JK: Yeah, paintings, I was just saying paintings and we get like Armenian magazine like, calendars that have like pictures of Mount Ararat and like churches and you can see the church in relation to the mountains. So, it is very interesting and you can read like what it represents and it is kinda nice to know, so and the story is it used to be, this is what I– this is from like from stories it used to be on the Armenian side and when the Turks came they came and took that land, so now it is on the Turkish side, so like region-wise, so it is interesting.

AD: Kurds also–

MT: I always thought that it is in Kurdistan, because it is Eastern Turkey.

AD: Now, we are– look, Turk, Armenian and Kurds we are going to cut it in pieces and claim it.

MT: The reason because we have so many things like named after Mount Ararat, like one of the strongest sport clubs, so but lately, no, I thought it is not.

JK: No, it is interesting.

AD: Well it is still land–

MT: Because there are like Kurds in Armenian, there are a lot of Kurds, so, and the first magazines in Kurdish I think issued in Yerevan long ago like in the eighteenth century so–

AD: Well different ethnic groups lived in that region. So when one group came they did not just say, ‘oh you know what I am here, get out of here’ it was not like that so what people did, they just mingled and continued to live. So that was what happened but then, you know, it goes in different directions and then the politics get in to picture–

JK: And religion– I was going to say.

AD: Yeah, religion, but religion is still a very big factor in twenty first century.

MT: Of course.

AD: I mean would you think that would still continue? It is continuing ̶

JK: I was going to say that Armenians were the first Christian culture they learnt from that so that was how it developed– which is really interesting. Armenian first country to develop Christianity–

MT: Like the first nation?

JK: Yeah first nation ̶

AD: First nation, yeah.

JK: It is really interesting.

AD: yeah, and then it– I am not very knowledgeable about, you know, religious history, but it just took different and then– as I said politically whoever was dominant took over so in that case you know, Catholics they were politically dominant and then they took over and then the second strong one was the Orthodox, you know, Greece and you know, Russia that area, so then in that case the Gregorian group which is Armenians they became minority in Christianity as well. So it is yeah–

JK: Interesting.

AD: Yeah, it is, it is very interesting.

JK: That is why I think Armenians play– I think religion plays a big role in Armenian culture that is how I would think.

AD: Because of that, and also coming from Istanbul, and I did a research when I was a student, about Armenian Churches along the Bosphorus, and I went so many different– I do not remember how many. And people do not even know like this like really unique architecture and there are in Ottoman architecture very important Armenian architects. Actually the most famous architect in Ottoman architectural history is Sinan, architect Sinan, and he was Armenian. Nobody says that is, but he was. And then Kirkov, Garabet Kirkov, it is like so many Armenian architects that, it is like architecturally it is just very, very important names.

JK: Yeah, also when I was asking my mother about the last names you know how it means what you do. Kachadourian, I know you are interested about what it meant, it meant like the cross, the kept the cross or something, so like based on religion; Kachadour– so that is what it really means like the cross like grabbing it and keeping it, like catch it. And then on my mom’s side, Kabakyan that is, they were like squash and pumpkin–

AD: That is right, I told you that.

JK: Yeah you did tell me that. So I found that is really interesting.

AD: Because it is Turkish, I do not know, I say Turkish maybe it is Kurdish, I do not know but kabak either like squash ̶ Actually we have one word, both squash and then pumpkin you say kabak, like zucchini squash ̶ is it in Kurdish too?

MT: Yes, one word.

AD: Yes, kabak so, and here you have like all different ̶ so I am like which one is which, and kabak maybe they were like fruit ̶ I told you that maybe they were raising kabak or something, I do not know, and also in Eastern part of Turkey I know they also make like musical instruments and things like that from pumpkin–

JK: Oh, wow.

AD: Yeah, not that I am a musician but I know like a lot of things going on and “ian” [yan] is son of. I know that. So, it is like easy to catch that.

JK: To understand who they are and stuff.

AD: yeah, yeah exactly. So, any other questions? So now you know the questions you need to ask your mother. So she is probably going to give you more details and then you go. So what are the names of your family members, I am curious, like did they keep Armenian names or did they choose Western names?
JK: Well, on my dad’s side his dad, his dad’s, my grandfather’s, name Harutun, my younger brother’s Henry Harutun, my grandmother is Victoria, I am not sure if that– I do not think that translates to Armenian. But, my grandfather his brothers and sisters, their named Arslanian which is Armenian, Louise, I think there is a translation for Armenian because my grandfather’s side, they are pretty much all Armenian and they like to keep the Armenian heritage basically. Aristaks, that is another great uncle of mine. On my mom’s side, Annie is my Aunt but her– she has another name that translates to Armenian, she goes by Annie but that is not her real name.

AD: I see.

JK: Yeah, and Edouard, he is another one. Madeline, I am not sure if that translates but Varoujan, Leon, Nora I am not sure where they got Nora that is my mom’s name.

MT: Nora is Arabic.

JK: Yeah, I do not know.

AD: Like from Noor.

JK: Noor is Armenian word, its means sweet.

MT: It means light, Noor means light.

JK: Oh light.

AD: In Arabic but in Armenian, maybe.

JK: Maybe, I thought it meant sweet; I have to ask her, I am not sure.

AD: Yeah, so your mom speaks Arabic as well.

JK: Yes she speaks Turkish, Armenian, Arabic, French and English and then my aunt, they were stuck in the house in Lebanon during the war, they could not do anything, this is after– like they could not go to school and stuff so they were stuck in their house. And they could only eat like bread, they did not have meat. So my aunt she read all these books, so she knew Spanish and Italian as well so she knows seven languages which is really interesting.

AD: Wow, so when your mom speaks does she have an accent?

JK: I got used to it, she does, I can tell she does. My friends know she has an accent. Especially when she speaks English she is not the best at it, since it is one of the later languages she did learn.

AD: So she speaks like me, with an accent.

JK: Yeah.

AD: Okay, so I did not listen to the interview Marwan transcribed your interview from Montreal. But he was just trying to figure out where the interview was, so I heard very short ̶ brief like a couple of words and I was like who is this Turkish interview, she sounded Turkish to me, whoever you were talking to, who was that?

JK: That was my mom’s aunt.

AD: Like her accent, speaking English sounded like a Turkish speaker is speaking English, to me. So what does she speak?

JK: She can speak Armenian, Turkish and she speaks English but it is hard for like the big words I was saying she did not understand that why my second or third cousin was there speaking Armenian trying to translate it because sometimes she would not understand what I was trying to ask.

AD: Yeah but her English, her accent in English sounded like Turkish speaker too.

JK: Okay yeah.

AD: Okay.

JK: It is very interesting.

AD: Yeah, yeah absolutely. So but your dad has no accent what so ever?

JK: No he is from– he is a Binghamton native.

AD: So, okay before we end, I did not ask so much about your father’s side. So who is here from your father’s side of the family, in town?

JK: Everyone so ̶

AD: But you said you are not so close to them.

JK: I am close to them but I, like, I find my mother’s side more interesting and more fun to be around. They are very–

AD: Americanized?

JK: Not actually not really, I do not think so, I think because they are– I do not have– my cousins do not live here from my dad’s side either, that it is hard really to connect with them because they are much older. I have my grandfather, Harutun, he is my dad’s dad, dad, yeah. Okay, and then he has two brothers and one sister, so one is Aristaks so he is general surgeon here, so he is still in Binghamton. Then Arslan[ian], he is very– they are–all of them have very strong Armenian culture, they go to church–

AD: So are you going to interview with all these people?

JK: Hopefully yes. Another one is Louise; that is their sister, so they all live here.

AD: So they all are well educated, I gather.

JK: Most of them yes. Especially the doctor, he went to Syracuse but they all went to Binghamton high school too, so they are from this area as well.

AD: Okay, tell your father convince them to interview with you.

JK: Yeah, I will.

AD: So, they all are like born and grew up here and, so your grandfather is still alive, your father’s father?

JK: Yes.

AD: So, how does he speak? Does he have an accent?

JK: No, because I believe because they were born here ̶

AD: Oh, so that is like, so from your father’s side you are like third generation.

JK: Yeah.

AD: Oh, wow.

JK: I have to ask, I am not too familiar with them.

AD: If he was born here first, your father second, you third.

JK: I have to see though where they came from before that because that would be interesting. I know either on my grandmother’s side or my dad’s grandfather’s side, they came from through Cuba.

AD: Okay, now you have two tasks Jackie since we open all that up. You got to interview with your grandfather.

JK: Yeah, he actually, he has got really sick this past week which is interesting ̶

AD: Well you got to talk to him.

JK: I know, before ̶

AD: Please make the time. Please make the time. And talk to him because this is like a library.

JK: Exactly.

AD: It is about to burn, so you got to talk to him. Because it is very important, and so I think your first thing should be interviewing with your grandfather and then you can get all the news and it is not just important for the history of Armenian culture in Binghamton area or in the US but your family history too. So you will know all this and we are going to document it which is great!

MT: Jackie you mentioned a name Arslan, and you mentioned that your mother reads, right? That she reads Armenian?

JK: Yes.

MT: Okay does she read any, like, Armenian literature, novel or things like that?

JK: I am sure she did but in school, in Sunday school. We have Armenian Bible, she knows how to read it.

MT: How about other books?

JK: Oh, yes we have Armenian cook books, the magazines are Armenian, yeah.

MT: The reason I mentioned that because there is a novel it is written in poetry, it is like poem. The title is Prince Arslan, I assume it should be Armenian because the name is Armenian. But I read it in English, but it is very–

JK: I will ask about it.

MT: We have it in the Kurdish collection actually, but I read it when I was young, so it is really interesting this novel, it is written in poetry and it has been translated into Kurdish in poetry.

AD: Is it in Kurdish?

MT: Oh, we have it in Kurdish but I know the culture is not Kurdish–

AD: I mean we have it in Kurdish.

MT: Yes, we have it in Kurdish.

AD: So, we need to look into that to see if there is like an Armenian copy. Let us check and see if there is.

MT: It is very famous, Prince Arslan. I never knew that it might be Armenian but I know from the names like Faruk, do you have Faruk as a name?

AD: Faruk ̶

MT: No, it is girl’s name, Faruk Laqaa or something like that.

JK: I will have to ask, does not sound like– nobody in my family but maybe.

MT: I mean the name sounds like Armenian– Yeah you should read that.

JK: I will ask. Maybe yeah.

AD: But what I know from Istanbul is like– really in Istanbul the Armenian community, my observation this is– the older generations they keep the traditional Armenian names, but like very good friend of mine, her name is Megi. I mean how Armenian that is! You know what I mean? So it is like even my generation, we are talking about fifty year old, so like, they tend to like get more Western names than–maybe at that time they were thinking oh, such boring names but I mean some still picks, you know–People go different things. They go back to original names and then they get tired of it, they pick different names so–

JK: I am not sure, even on my mom’s side there is some Armenian names ̶

AD: Or then they have Armenian names but they have like these nicknames, Western names.

JK: Yeah, to assimilate it.

AD: You know what I mean? So that is also ̶

MT: I think the old generation they’ve tried to keep the surname at least. Most of them they have the surname, yeah– it is dying out within the new generation as time passes.

JK: Yeah.

AD: What is the name of that Author? Prince what?

MT: Well Prince Arslan is the name of the book.

AD: Oh, the name of the book. Okay, but anyway, we will look at it. I am interested in looking at it. So, any questions, any more questions?

MT: If she wants to add something?

AD: Yeah, do you want to add anything that we forgot, you think that it is important?

MT: There are questions but they do not apply to her because she is young–

AD: –New generation. But you certainly can ask more question to your grandfather ̶

MT: Do you know if your family, like your mother or father they were in like politics? Because there has been some politics going on in Binghamton community.

JK: My father, my dad he is very much into politics, because he works–

MT: There are like two different parties in Armenia.

AD: In Armenia, Armenian politics.

JK: My parents probably know more about it. My dad loves looking at what is going on in Armenia. There has always been a divide, even the language which is spoken; I know there is like a West side and the Eastern side. There is different words that they use, but it is like Armenian, they speak Armenian but they have different slang words and things like that and how it is spoken which is really interesting, so but they would know more–

MT: I think that Armenian diaspora; they speak Western Armenian or maybe Eastern?

JK: It depends on where you from I think–

MT: Yeah but the dialect that they speak here is not spoken anymore in Armenia, so the official language I think is Eastern Armenian and the Diaspora people they speak Western Armenian–

AD: Eastern Armenians are people from the former Soviet Union?

MT: Yeah.

AD: Yeah, so the Western Armenian it is like people left Ottoman Empire, or Turkey. So I think that makes– and to me it makes a lot of sense because one influenced by the Russian, the other one influenced by Turkish. So it happens a lot.

MT: Yeah, when people here go back to Armenia they have a hard time to understand the Eastern Armenian.

AD: It is a different dialect probably.

JK: Yeah. Even my mom’s side and my dad’s side, when my mom is talking to my grandfather and my grandmother they use different words for like çörek they call it with different word on my grandparent’s side which is interesting.

AD: Çörek?

JK: Yeah.

AD: I told you çörek.

JK: I love çörek.

MT: But you did not bring it.

AD: We will go visit your mom.

MT: You were supposed to get it from Turkey, from Istanbul–the original.

JK: That is my favorite. Wow, do you helva, have you heard of it?

MT: Do you pronounce– or maybe it has come from the Turkish– We say halwa, it is like you change the ‘WA’ sound to ‘V.’

JK: Yeah, helva.

AD: I think that is like– let us put it that way, like Anatolian, let usnot just say just Turkish. So it is like that is the region. Regional affect I think. And I see that a lot with Kurdish culture too. Regional affect, so you have more Arabic influence and Kurds from Turkey have more Anatolian because that is the land, I mean that is the seasoning they use, you know, like all these ingredients, it is regional effect on people than ethnic. I mean it is similar but you see that I certainly like when I was processing the Kurdish collection, I could tell which piece of artifact came from Iraqi region or Iranian region or Turkish you know Anatolian region. I could easily tell because it is there, and there is nothing wrong with that because it is the region you know, same thing in this country. Cannot you tell the difference between Southern and Northern?

JK: Yeah.

AD: It affects. There is– you know, it certainly affects. You can tell the difference, so I think the words, the food everything. I mean Armenian food is–I read an article actually, somebody– because I am into food, I love food. So somebody, I wish I saved that article, did a research to see the difference between Armenian food that you can eat in Istanbul than in Yerevan. Like there is a difference.

JK: Wow.

AD: Yeah, I mean– when I read it I said wow, that is exactly supports my argument. I mean it is just as delicious but it is different.

JK: Different influences, yeah of course. It is interesting.

AD: When Armenians do this and that and then Armenians over there are cooking totally different–

JK: It is finally something totally different from us.

AD: Exactly.

JK: Because it is so Westernized.

AD: Yeah, there is this, okay, God I cannot think of– I, I did not get enough sleep– there is this appetizer, which is very, very famous in Armenia. So Armenian culture introduced to– especially for Istanbul cuisine. I do not want to say the whole Turkey, but in Istanbul because there is a great effect there. So you basically make a paste from chick peas– I am asking if you ever–s o and then you make this inside like with onion, and then you kind of topik, have you ever heard of that ̶

JK: No, but it sounds like you are making humus.

AD: But it is not– I need to find the picture, and like that is like when you say what is the biggest influence– and especially like–

JK: And you know what, it is interesting as well, my friend from Binghamton University he was looking up Armenian food because he is really interested in food and he loves Armenian food, and he thought that there is a type of donut, but it is actually Russian.

AD: [laughs], so I am just proving with the– look at that! So–

JK: I have never seen that. I know this.

AD: That is lentil balls.

JK: We have that for Easter!

AD: Yeah, I think thank you Jackie for your time, thank you so much. So this is–

(End of Interview)

Date of Interview



Aynur de Rouen


Jacqueline Kachadourian

Biographical Text

Jackie is a student at Binghamton University, double majoring in Studio Art and Theatre with concentrations in Painting and Costume Design. She is active in her local community and is very passionate about her family's history with Armenia.





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Binghamton University

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This audio file and digital image may only be used for educational purposes. Please cite as Armenian Oral History Project, Binghamton University Libraries, Binghamton University, State University of New York. For usage beyond fair use please contact the Binghamton University Libraries for more information.


Armenia; Lebanon; Montreal; Church; Genocide; Identity; Traditions; Sunday school; Armenian dance; Christmas; Religion; Food; Mount Ararat; Literature; Politics; Diaspora.



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About this Collection

Collection Description

This collection includes interviews in English with informants of all ages and a variety of backgrounds from various parts of Armenia. The interviews provide deeper insight into the history of the Armenian culture through personal accounts, narratives, testimonies, and memories of their early lives in their adoptive country and… More

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“Interview with Jacqueline Kachadourian,” Digital Collections, accessed April 25, 2024,