LOS ANGELES—In continuing the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region’s (ANCA WR) various initiatives to commemorate the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, on April 28, 2014, upon the invitation of the faculty and staff at Campbell Hall High School, ANCA WR activist Vanna Kitsinian, Esq., returned to her alma mater to present a history and account of the Armenian Genocide to the student body.
Campbell Hall, a private college-prepatory school in Studio City has a long tradition of academic excellence and a deep commitment to the development of responsible human beings. The school embraces a philosophy of celebrating individual strengths and provides a climate where all students are encouraged to create their own rich, challenging, academic and co-curricular programs and to celebrate their unique and varied contributions that they make to their communities and to the world. In line with this approach to education and development, Campbell Hall requested from the ANCA WR that a presentation be made to its high school student body of 550 students regarding the importance of spreading awareness about the Armenian Genocide.
Stephanie Wilson, Chaplain for Campbell Hall remarked, “It continues to be so important to educate our students about historical atrocities like the Armenian Genocide so that we do not allow such violations against human rights to ever occur again. Vanna was a powerful speaker and we were lucky to have her speak to our community.”
Having graduated from Campbell Hall, Kitsinian attended the school’s bi-weekly chapel and delivered the keynote address to share the story and history of the Armenian Genocide with its students, who proved to be very responsive. The presentation coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day, further making the day more meaningful and educational for the students. Despite the fact that the Armenian student population makes up a very small percentage of the school’s student body, the few Armenian students have established an “Armenian Club,” headed by the only Armenian teacher in the school, Mrs. Lucine Ohanessian. Derrick Adomian, a tenth grade student and a member of the Armenian Club introduced Kitsinian and noted that the day prior, he had walked with the ANCA-WR’s “America We Thank You” walkathon team in the Jewish World Watch “Walk to End Genocide,” alongside Kitsinian.
The presentation was concluded with the reading of the Lord’s Prayer in Armenian by Charlotte Etmekjian, the President of the school’s Armenian Club.
As part of her presentation, Kitsinian discussed the role of the Near East Relief (NER), the U.S.’s oldest Congressionally-sanctioned non-governmental organization that led the relief efforts during and after the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Each student was provided with a written fact sheet regarding the NER’s significant role in Armenian and American history, as well as California’s contributions to the relief efforts.
Kitsinian is the co-chair of the ANCA-WR’s “America, We Thank You: An Armenian Tribute to the Near East Relief” committee, which is honoring the humanitarian and philanthropic work of the NER and its crucial role in helping save the Armenian nation from annihilation as the Centennial approaches.
“It is vitally important that we continue to educate young minds about the first genocide of the 20th century because the genocide of the Armenians forms part of the universal conscience and the collective memory. It was a privilege for me to return to my school and share with the students the experience and history of my ancestors so that we may continue to raise awareness and never forget this crime against humanity,” stated Kitsinian.
The ANCA-WR has been at the forefront of legislations related to the Armenian Genocide in California. Several weeks ago, over 350 activists from around California traveled to Sacramento for ANCA WR’s “Advocacy Day” and urged for the passage of Assembly member Adrin Nazarian’s two Genocide curriculum bills; Assembly Bill 659, which encourages the incorporation of an oral history component specifically related to genocides, including the Armenian Genocide, Holocaust, Rwandan, Cambodian and Darfur genocides, and Assembly Bill 1915, which would require the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in California’s curriculum for the adopted course of study in grades 7-12 when World History is taught.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.