Interview with Noelle Marie (Badeer) Petersen on the Launching of Her New Book

The Armenian Evangelical Church in Lebanon has had visionary founders, one of whom is Augustine Bedeer. He was instrumental in founding the CMC hospital (now the headquarters of UAECNE), and the Kchag Summer Campsite (now going through renovation and rebuilding).
The granddaughter of Henry Bedeer (brother of Augustine Bedeer) has taken the initiative to assemble her family's story and has turned it into a book on the occasion of the Armenian Genocide Centennial. Her name is Noelle Marie (Badeer) Petersen, whom we met online by happenstance through our Chanitz blog. We requested to have an interview, and she gladly accepted.
In the book entitled "Survived How & Why", you will find amazing survival story of Hripsime Agnoghian Kassarjian from the genocide, relocation of the Badeer family to Lebanon and then their emigration to USA.
(Interview conducted by Raffi Chilingirian)

Raffi- What instigated you in the first place to think about writing this book?
Noelle and her husband
Noelle- When I lost my paternal grandparents, it felt like losing friends, like losing personal history. I became
motivated to share with my nieces and nephews, born and yet to be born, the wonderful people that they would never have a chance to know personally. We have a proud, glorious history as part of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide, and our family history marries it to our life now in America.
I never had a chance to meet my greatgrandmother, Hripsime (Agnoghian) Kassarjian. She was an amazing woman who was persuaded by her local church (in Omaha, Nebraska, at that time) to write a short book of her experiences during war, being orphaned, and surviving the Armenian Genocide. After reading her little book for the first time as an adult, it was clear to me that someone needed to digitize the book so it could be preserved and shared with future generations. After I started on her book, the project grew quickly to include photos and other short biographies!

Raffi- What are the stages that you passed through from initial phases of thinking about writing this book to actually publishing it?
Noelle- I think most people set out to ‘write a book’ and this book sort of just happened to me. It started out with “Survived: How & Why?” by Hripsime, and it grew into photos and other family stories that just couldn’t lay dormant in an old trunk any longer. My parents have all the old documents and photos going back to the 1900’s. After I decided to add a photo gallery to the book, I purchased a scanner and got busy! About 500 photos in, I realized the project was getting bigger than I ever intended it to … and I loved it. The next stage was to round out my written content to equal the number of photos that I wanted to include. I went back to the trunk and searched out other interesting items such as the short autobiography that my Grandpa Henry Sarkis Badeer wrote about his life, and the family history project that was done back in 1997. All of these documents were retyped into a digital format and then matched with photos, page by page.
Because I didn’t have the software to finish the layout of the book myself, I enlisted the help of my sisterinlaw, Hannah Badeer, who is both a photographer and graphic designer. She made beautiful, professional pages out of my work! We reviewed and revised the draft several times, consulting family members for missing details and proofreading.
We added color photos to the end of the book, along with information about the present members of the family. We
ended up with about 69 pages in all.
What started out as one simply project evolved into a spiral bound book that I later self published and made available in physical and digital format to family and friends.

Raffi- What problems did you face while working on this book?
Noelle- The main problem I faced was identifying people in photographs that I never met personally. With my grandparents gone, I relied heavily on the help of my Uncle Gilbert Badeer, and my Dad (Daniel Badeer) to help me with this task. We went through over 200 pictures together putting names to faces! I couldn’t have done this without their help.
The secondary problem I faced was dealing with relatives who didn’t care much for the project, or making a contribution. I was surprised to find that some of the extended family had no interest in sharing stories or memories for others to learn from and enjoy. It was disappointing, and probably part of the reason that it took me about a year and half from starting
the project to bringing home the first printed draft.

Raffi- What is one interesting story that you found out that you didn't know previously?
Noelle- I never realized that my greatgrandmother (Hripsime Agnoghian Kassarjian) was orphaned and separated from her brother as a child. Her brother’s story, included in her little book, is remarkable. Luder Agnoghian was one of many children that we separated from their parents, and exiled in separate directions. He was rescued by several different families and lived with Bedouins until he found himself in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Luder and Hripsime were reunited there after forty years of separation, fearing the other had died. As he said, God sent an angel to save him!

Raffi- What is the feedback that you received?
Noelle- It is difficult to report feedback when you send a book away to be read. I’m sure some people who have read it never took the time to write back to me. Those who have read it have told me that they love seeing photos with stories, and that the book is much more conversational and approachable than most family history books. I didn’t worry about charts and
trees so much as telling each person’s individual story. Isn’t that what families are made of? Individual stories?

Hripsime (Agnoghian) Kassarjian and her brother, Luder Agnoghian when they were re-united after forty years!

Photo taken around 1980, on the left is Noelle's mom, Deb (Ridge) Badeer, Hripsime, and her daughter (Noelle's grandma) Marie (Kassarjian) Badeer. Marie is holding Noelle's sister, Leah