About Sara

Zaruhy began being called Sara by a girl in the neighborhood when she was 9 years old because Zaruhy was too difficult to pronounce. However Sara was not officially used until Junior High because her brother would make fun by calling her Screw-y Zaruh-y. As Sara got older, she became more self confident and rooted in her Armenian identity so she returned to using her name given at birth: Zaruhy.

“Understanding History should be understood by whose eyes recorded it!” – Sara  Chitjian

Sara Chitjian was born in Mexico City in 1933 to Ovsanna and Hampartzoum. They were Armenian Genocide survivors from Kharpert and Malatia, Turkey. Her parents would meet in Mexico where they got married and had two children Mardiros and Zaruhy. In 1935 the Chitjian family got a visa to immigrate to the United States where they would settle in East Los Angeles because three of Hamparzoum’s brothers already lived there.

Sara attended The Rowan Ave Elementary School for kindergarten, Stevenson Junior Highl and then Garfield High School from which she then went to UCLA for her college education.

Sara graduated from UCLA in 1956 and began her teaching career which would last for 34 years. She would be the first teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District to establish an Armenian Ethnic Studies program.

These classes for both students and teachers were very successful and it was the beginning of Sara’s devotion to assemble a collection reflecting the life of both parents and herself.

Upon her retirement from teaching, she cared for her parents and devoted the rest of her life archiving The Armenian Genocide.

Sara’s Early Childhood

The happiest memories in Sara’s life were from her early childhood while living in Bonnie beach and then Whittier blvd where the family moved in 1940. Sara remembers being care free and adventurous / mischievous. Her memories are very vivid from this time period even though she was only 4-7 years old.

Sara with her parents at Bonnie Beach, East L.A. 1939

Sara Rides a pony at Bonnie Beach

Sara at Bonnie Beach, East L.A. 1939

Sara celebrating her 5th birthday with the neighborhood kids at Bonnie Beach.

Sara at Whittier Blvd 1940 in East L.A.

Sara with her good friend Max

Max and Sara were great friends and went on little adventures together in the Bonnie Beach neighborhood where they lived.Birthdays parties were had with all the neighborhood kids at a big table. These times at Bonnie Beach were the most fun years of Sara’s life.

Sara & Max

Sara loved her dolls.

The Blackout of 1942

It was on the night of Feb. 25, 1942, that Los Angeles experienced the Great Los Angeles Air Raid. It was a night when everyone’s fears apparently were realized — Japan had brought the war to mainland America, and Los Angeles was the target.… 

I remember the blackout of 1942 in Los Angeles. It was a scary time as I was about 9 years old at the time and living on Whittier Blvd in East Los Angeles. We had black outs in that when the sun went down, we could not turn on lights and we had to cover all the windows so that military planes could not bomb us. We had a really nice wood stove in the den and my mother would make a fire there to cook shish kabobs and roast marshmallows for us to eat while my father was working at his market. Since the fire was our only source of light since we did not have a flashlight, we would spend the evening sitting in the dark around the light of the stove. There were civil defense personnel (the CD’s)  patrolling the neighborhoods to make sure no one had their lights on to make sure the Japanese fighter planes flying overhead could not see landmarks. Sirens would go off in the streets when there was possibility of planes flying over.

Article from Los Angeles Times in 1942

Link to Full Article

Sara Visits Two World Fairs in one Year

Sara was 6 years old in 1939 and her father’s grocery store had just burned down due to a suspicious fire. It was the night before the family was leaving on a big cross country adventure to experience two World Fair’s one in San Francisco and the other New York. Hapartzoum and Ovsanna put the children to bed and there was a knock at the door. A person at the door tells Hampartzoum that his store is on fire! Hampartzoum rushes to his grocery store and tries to rush into the burning building to get the credit book that kept records of which family owed money for food purchased on credit. The fireman would not let Hampartzoum enter and everything burned down to ashes!

Hampartzoum having just experienced the tragic loss of his business decides to leave everything and continue with the plans of taking the family on their grand tour of two world fairs and visiting relatives along the way. This trip would be a very memorable experience for Sara for which she still remembers in great detail!

1939 New York World’s Fair

1939 Golden Gate International Exposition

High School Graduation

Sara’s friends from high school, Jean Sally and Betty

Jean was a friend of Sara’s in High School

Betty Kimura was Sara’s best friend in Junior High and High School.

Sara & her cousin Kaspar Jr.

Sara Chitjian’s High School Graduation Photo. Garfield High School is located in East Los Angeles

Betty Kimura’s High School Graduation Photo. Garfield High School is located in East Los Angeles. Betty was Sara’s best friend in High School.

Sara Reflects on her time at UCLA

Sara attended UCLA for 4 years (1952 – 1956) and received a B.A. in Pychology. She then took a year off to decide what career path she would take while working as a bank teller. It was during this time that Sara realized that she wanted to become a school teacher and enrolled in a special program to get her teaching credentials. After her first class experience she realized she was hooked and would devote the next 38 years of her life to the joy of teaching children.

Sara’s time at UCLA opened her love for learning, saying often that she could have been very happy spending her life just going to lectures. She did not want to graduate! However in the beginning of her college education Sara was still insecure about her potential. It was her friend Mary Joan who taught Sara how to take notes and gave her confidence in herself. Sara and Mary Joan are still friends till this day, speaking monthly and sharing articles with each other by mail.

Sara with Mary Joan

Sara formed meaningful friendships at this time of her life.

Sara with her friends from when she attended UCLA in 1952 – 1956

Sara goes to Yosemite with her UCLA friends.

Sara reflects on her time at UCLA

Page 1

Sara reflects on her time at UCLA

Page 2

Saras note on UCLA

Sara’s 1957 Chevy

Sara Chitjian was given as a UCLA graduation gift from her parents a 1957 Chevy. She drove it for 34 for years and she considered it her lucky charm. She remembers the best years of her life while driving that car. It was a soft baby blue with a white top. Sara eventually stopped driving the car because she was  followed by interested buyers and stopped by the police 3 times, fearing she will be getting a ticket, only to find out that they too were interested in buying it. To avoid the hassle, she parked it in her driveway instead.

Photo 1

Sara’s father gave her this check saying she could buy any car she wanted as a gift for graduating from U.C.L.A.

Photo 2

Three Significant Armenian Holidays

Sara Chitjian addressed the Mayor of Los Angeles to include Three significant Armenian Holidays into the calendar of the city with emphasis placed on April 24th. It was her efforts that created April 24th into the Los Angeles school calendar as an excusable absence for that day.

Moments from Sara’s  Life

In an attempt to please Sara’s mother, she briefly becomes a bank teller before finding her calling as a school teacher.

Sara Chitjian with her father Hampartzoum Chitjian

Sara Chitjian receives an award for her contributions to teaching. She was the first teacher to bring Armenian Cultural awareness programs to the LAUSD.

Sara with her father Hampartzoum in the final years of his life at their home in Los Angeles.

Sara Finds Her Calling as a School Teacher

Sara with her first class at Monlux Elementary.

Sara correcting papers at Dixie Canyon Elementary.

Hampartzoum Chitjian was very proud of his daughter Zaruhy Sara Chitjian for her diligence in bringing awareness to her students about Armenian history. “For the first time in my life at the Dixie Canyon School, I experienced a joyous merriment from my daughter… This meant the world to me!” In this school, my daughter taught Armenian and non-Armenian students Armenian History, reading and writing and songs in Armenian. They sang “Hampartzoum Taylah” (a song honoring my “name” day), and two boys bearing candles congratulated me with a hug….

Was this a dream or a reality??

P.S. (This was the first year Hampartzoum was honored with this celebration. He was 76 years old!!)

Original writing by Hampartzoum praising his daughter for her work in raising awareness with school children about the history of the Armenian people.

It was after this experience that Hampartzoum began writing his memoirs.

Translation of Hampartzoum’s writing to Sara.

Sara Chitjian Has two Hero’s!

Sibel Edmonds

Hrant Dink

Sibel is a hero to Sara because she outed the United States goverment for taking money from the Turks in exchange for being complicit in denying the Armenian Genocide as requested by The Turkish Governement. Sibel proved that Congressmen gets money from the Turkish Government via Lobbyists.

Sara Say’s “Thank You Sybel!!” – Finally the truth comes out that the U.S. pays Turkey to conceal the truth about the Armenian Genocide!

Sibel Edmonds memoir revealing the cover ups and collusion with the Turkish Government. In this startling new memoir, Sibel Edmonds—the most classified woman in U.S. history—takes us on a surreal journey that begins with the secretive FBI and down the dark halls of a reckless Congress to a stonewalling judiciary and finally, to the national security whistleblowers movement she spearheaded. Having lived under Middle East dictatorships, Edmonds knows firsthand what can happen when government is allowed to operate in secret. Hers is a sobering perspective that combines painful experience with a rallying cry for the public’s right to know and to hold the lawbreakers accountable. With U.S. citizens increasingly stripped of their rights in a calibrated media blackout, Edmonds’ story is a wake-up call for all Americans who, willingly or unwillingly, traded liberty for illusive security in the wake of 9/11.

Relevant Articles

Sara Chitjian Admired Hrant Dink because he was a Uniter. He made friends with Turkish Acedemia and helped enlightened them about their recent history.

Zaruhy (Sara) Chitjian meeting with Hrant Dink.

Zaruhy visiting Hrant Dink’s gravesite in Istanbul, 2008, one year after he was assassinated.

Sara Chitjian and Others

Sara Chitjian with William Saroyan and Arch Bishop Karakian in Isfahan, Iran (Julfa).  Two unifiers who were Sara’s heroes.

Sara Chitjian with the dean at USC Dornslife.

Kirk Krikorian with Hampartzoum, Ms Dole and Sara Chitjian (Kirk’s family was also from Kharpert)

Sara with the President of The American University of Armenia

Silva Bizikian

Sara’s only true Armenian friend who passed away too soon.

Sara and Hampartzoum with Professor Richard Hovanessian and his son Ralphie at UCLA

Sara with Rose and Gabriel Injekian who established the first Armenian day school in the United States.

Sara Chitjian with Mr. and Mrs. John Marshall Evans who was the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia until he was abruptly removed from office when he vocalized the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Sara Chitjian with Berkley professor Steppan and famed sociology professor Fatma Muge Gocek of Michigan University who specializes on the collective violence on minorities.

Sara and Hampartzoum with congressman Adam Schiff

Sara with her good friend Mary Jone having a picnic

Sara with Charles (Chip) Stanish who was the Director of The Cotsen Institute of Archeology at UCLA. The Chitjian Foundation sponsored a space at UCLA dedicated to the study of Ancient Armenian archeology.

Sara with Dave Boocheever

Hampartzoum and Governor George Deukmejian

George respected Hampartzoum

(Sara is taking Photo)

Sara and Hampartzoum with Chuck Poochigian, Associate Justice of The California Court of Appeal and his wife.

The Poochigians were from Perri, the same village as Hampartzoum..

Ovsanna and Hampartzoum Chitjian with U.S. District Jude Dickran Tevrizian

(Sara is taking the Photo)

The Chitjian’s with Louise Manoogian, Head of The A.G.B.U.

Arpie, Miss Dickranian and Sara

Sara Chitjian being photographed by Ara Oshagon at the iWitness Installation

Click Here For more info

One of many conferences Sara attended at UCLA

Sara, Arpie and Alice at an event

Sara and noted singer Jackie Kushkjian

Sara attends gala event

Sara attends event at Beverly Hills Hotel

Maggie Ghoshian and Sara Chitjian

Armenian Assembly, Hrant Dink’s wife, Hovnanian and Sara

Senator Charles Poochigian with Sara and Hampartzoum

Politician Adam Shift with Sara Chitjian and Arpie Mazlumian

Visiting Taner Akcam and others for a lecture at The University of Toronto

A farewell party for friends / teachers from Dixie Canyon Elementary

Sara meets with Armenian M.I.T. professor who would be the first to teach at Sara’s foundation at AUA.

Sara with Anna Ashjian, the sister of Governor Deukmedjian.

Sara with the Akbabians

Sara with the president of CSUN and AUA

The Chitjian’s and The Dole’s

The Chitjian’s deeply appreciated and supported the work Elizabeth and Bob Dole did for the Armenians in Washington. It was a relationship of mutual respect. It can be said that Bob Dole’s appreciation of Armenians was spawned because of the Armenian doctor Hampar Kelikian who was an orthopedic surgeon that saved Bob Dole’s arm from amputation because of a war injury.

Senator Bob Dole’s speech  acknowledging The Armenian Genocide

The text of Dole’s April 24, 1996 statement follows:

“April 24, 1915 marks the beginning of the Armenian Genocide of the Ottoman Empire. As you gather today to commemorate the 81st anniversary of this crime against society, I want to pay tribute to the victims of this tragedy. I also share with you the hope that society will never again allow such brutal treatment of humanity.

“Though April 24 is the day singled out to mark this tragedy, during the genocide some 1.5 million Armenians were subjected to systematic extermination through a policy of deportation, torture, starvation, and massacre, I join with the Armenian community in mourning the dead and recalling the suffering and sacrifices of the victims.

“I am proud to underscore my unwavering solidarity and support of the acknowledgment of the 1915-1923 Armenian Genocide as a historical fact. Unlike President Clinton, I have been for years willing to recognize the First Genocide of the modern age. Until the recognition of the Genocide suffered by Armenians receives universal acceptance, I stand with you in your efforts to set right the record of the past.

“While today’s occasion is a time for solemn reflection on the suffering of the Armenian people, I also have a strengthened sense of dedication for the independence of Armenia and self-determination for the people of Nogorno-Karabagh. When the 1988 earthquake devastated Armenia, I sponsored legislation which provided U.S. assistance to the victims. It was my privilege to have visited Armenia in 1989 to better determine enacting into law the largest allocation of U.S. assistance to Armenia since independence. I authored the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act, which is now law, which prohibits U.S. assistance to any country that blocks the delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance. I have called on Turkey, which is in violation of U.S. law because of its blockade of Armenia, to unconditionally end this inhumane practice. My unwavering support for continuing U.S. sanctions against Azerbaijian also testifies to my commitment to Armenia and Karabagh’s quest for justice, peace, and security.

“I know that the future will be better. Most of you have ancestors who were victims of the Genocide to whom all appeared lost. I too have endured war and its devastations, and have learned from personal adversity to move on. In addition to the genocide, Armenians were forced to live under Communist misrule and repression. But you have lived to see your children prosper in freedom and to witness the historic re-establishment of an independent Armenia. I will never retreat from my commitment to a strong and secure Armenia.

“On this 81st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, I know that we can work together to prevent such crimes from recurring. As we remember the past, let us also celebrate the heroic rebirth of the Armenian people.”

(signed) Bob Dole.

Sara befriends a Turkish Student

For many years Sara has supported The Zoryan Institute and has sponsored Turkish, Kurdish, American Armenian and Armenian students to attend a summer program to learn about the history of the Armenian Genocide.

sara with turkish student

Sara with Turkish Student at The Grove – Los Angeles CA.

Sara Chitjian met this Turkish student at a UCLA conference and treated her to an afternoon at the Grove. This young person did not know about the Armenian Genocide and while she was studying at a University in Turkey, she would learn about the massacres and took interest in it. It is important for Sara to educate Turkish people without projecting anger and judgement as she can not blame them for the way they were educated about their own history.

Sara with Turkish Student at The Grove – Los Angeles CA.

Miss Anna Jenkins

Miss Anna Jenkins was Sara’s Kindergarten teacher in 1938 at Rowan Avenue School in East Los Angeles.

It was Sara’s first time being separated from her mother and can remember crying uncontrollably in the class so a teacher put her in the closet. Sara stopped very quickly so the teacher let her out.

Sara returns to Turkey in 2008 with Mt. Ararat in the background.

Sara Jenkins was a pioneer Kindergarten teacher born in 1885

Student Appreciation

After Sara retired from teaching, students of hers would reconnect many years later as an adult, grateful to have had her as a school teacher.

Sara’s students appreciated her!

Rostom Sarkissian was a student of Sara’s

Anoush and Vicky, students of Sara’s from Ramona

Tracey Bregman was a student of Sara’s at Dixie Canyon.

Tracey Bregman visiting Sara Chitjian

Students Letter’s to Sara Many Years Later

Subject: I WAS YOUR 6TH GRADE STUDENT AT RAMONA

Message: Dear Ms. Chitjian,

I have been trying to find you for years and the closest I got before was someone mentioning you on a Facebook post. I reached out to that person but never heard back. I was your student at Ramona, and I graduated in 1980. I have NEVER forgotten you and I was in the FIRST ARMENIAN CLASS that you taught at Ramona. I was only 1 of 6 NON-Armenians in that class! I still know how to count in Armenian, sing the Yerevan song, and remember how I did a report on the Temple Garni.

I would very much like to reconnect with you. I live in Santa Barbara and can be reached on my cell.

You have been a MAJOR influence in my life and were a wonderful role model and I always wanted to find you again. I hope you will call me.

Your former student,

Geraldine B.

Supporting Education

Sara Chitjian belonged to The Armenian Young Professionals and was responsible to award 10 outstanding students with scholarships.

Sara’s students mark Armenian heritage, she dedicated her life to education and the Armenian cause.

Ten Scholarship Winners to be honored!

Ten post graduates to receive scholorships!

APS awards 10 scholarships.

Its not so hard to revise the History Books!

In the 1980’s while Sara Chitjian was teaching at Ramona Elementary, she noticed in the newly adopted Social Studies book that there was no mention of Armenian history even in the chapter on Turkey. Immediately she contacted the Governor’s office and complained. To her surprise, within a short period of time the school received a new shipment of social studies books that was satisfactory for Sara. The message that Sara wants people to embrace is that by doing changes can be made. Sara never asked the principle or anyone else for permission, she acted on her own volition and saw the results first hand. No one was even aware or questioned why the school received new textbooks.

Cover of History Book that makes no mention of the Armenian People

Page of history book describing Turks but no mention of Armenians who were the indigenous people of those land areas. This would be like referring to Americans when talking about US history with no mention of the Native population who lived there for thousands of years.

Sara visits her father’s village in Turkey in 2008

Sara Chitjian is visiting her fathers village in Perri, Turkey in 2008. She is standing in front of the blacksmith’s shop where grandfather was taken for interrogations and beaten to a pulp. Upon release, he was instructed by the authorities to take his four sons to the mektab (Turkish School) and join the caravan out of Turkey. En route, he was murdered by the Turkish soldiers.

Sara in the midst of bamboo to simulate what her father might have felt, being lost and frightened in the forest.

My Impressions of Turkey

Sara returns to Turkey in 2008 with Mt. Ararat in the background.

Sara standing in front of the Blacksmith shop where her grandfather was beaten by Ottoman soldiers.

Sara following her fathers footsteps almost 100 years later.

Armenian church in Itchmeh

Having coffee next to waterfalls

Euphrates River 2008

Many Armenian villages were erased by the flooding caused from the Dam.

Abandoned Armenian Church

Sara photographs Mt. Ararat

Sara photographs the area in Itchme where here father worked the fields 95 years earlier.

Mt Ararat

Mt Ararat

More Photos from Sara’s Trip

Sara visits Iran in 1973

In 1973 Sara Chitjian would travel with her good friend Barbara Andersen to Iran where she traced the footsteps her father took during his escape from the Armenian Genocide occurring in Ottoman Turkey in 1915. Hampartzoum spent two years in Iran before making contact with his brothers in the United States. His brothers would send him $200 which got him to Mexico and then ultimately Los Angeles.

Sara Chitjian went with a group of University students on a pilgrimage to the Armenian St. Thaddeus Monestary.

Sara visits the King Darius archeological site and stands in front of ancient Armenian references in the stone

Sara visits ancient Archeology in Isfahan

Sara with William Saroyan and bishop Karakie Sarkissian in Isfahan

Sara standing at the crossroads of Turkey, Iran and Armenia with Mt. Ararat in the background

Sara visits Persepolis

Sara visits Soviet Armenia with her in parents in 1969

Flowers Sara Picked from the Mountains of Urartu in 1979. Sara imagines these flowers growing in abundance during the time when Armenians flourished there.

The Chitjian’s visit Ovsanna’s childhood friends “The Vorperian’s” from Malatya who migrated to Soviet Armenia.

Flowers Sara Picked from the Mountains of Urartu in 1979. Sara imagines these flowers growing in abundance during the time when Armenians flourished there.

More of Sara’s hand picked flowers from the region.

Visiting The Erebuni Fortress

Click to read The History of this place

Hampartzoum and Ovsanna visit Sara at School

Hampartzoum made this collage to show his appreciation for the awareness Sara was teaching to her students.

Hampartzoum visits Sara on her last day of school after 34 years of teaching.

Hampartzoum’s final word to Sara’s students.

Visiting Sara’s class at Ramona Elementary

For Special Parents

This was the last Anniversary card Sara gave to her parents in August of 1997 as her mother would pass in May of 1998.

Front of Card

Inside of Card

Sara enjoying a happy moment with her parents

Sara with her students attend The 60th Commemoration of The Armenian Genocide

Sara brought awareness and social activism to her students by taking them to and partaking in the annual Armenian Genocide March for Awareness.