HOLLYWOOD–This past Wednesday, more than 250 sophomores and juniors at Lakewood High School took part in a special discussion on the Armenian Genocide led by the AYF and ANC. The presentation marked the second year in a row that Armenian activists have visited the school to speak with students about the horrors of genocide.
Lakewood High History teacher, Angela Wood, extended the invitation to the AYF to organize the discussion. With the curriculum for her students already covering the Armenian Genocide, the presentation was geared more toward giving them insight into what can be done about stopping such atrocities.
“As the direct descendents of those who survived the Armenian Genocide, we see it as our duty to raise awareness about this grave crime against humanity,” said AYF Executive Director Serouj Aprahamian. “It was very rewarding speaking with the students at Lakewood High, not only about the crime of genocide, but the steps our generation needs to take to eliminate this scourge once and for all.”
Aprahamian and ANC-WR Community Relations Director, Haig Hovsepian, gave the two, two-hour presentations to mostly non-Armenian history students gathered in the school library. In addition to covering the motivation and steps behind Turkey’s attempted annihilation of the Armenian people, they discussed the ongoing killings in Darfur and explained how students can get involved in advocacy efforts to end the cycle of genocide.
“Just as important as it is to learn about the Armenian Genocide is to learn that it is also a part of American history as well as a contemporary issue,” said Hovsepian. “Education and civic engagement form the base of any meaningful change towards ending the cycle of genocide. While there was much to share, it was also inspiring to hear from many of the students who had learned about the genocide and were eager to translate that knowledge into action.”
Towards the end of each session, the students drafted letters, in their own words, directed toward Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, calling on her to push for a full vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution. “History is written by its victors, but if the Turkish government receives what they want Armenian culture will be lost,” read one of the letters written to Pelosi. “All I ask for is that the Genocide be brought to justice. Please do your part by supporting this request.”
The students were also shown the recent 60 Minutes segment on the Armenian Genocide, as well as footage of recent AYF grassroots activism on the issue. They were encouraged to visit to the ANC’s website to learn more about how to get involved and encouraged to attend the AYF’s upcoming April 24 demonstration in front of the Turkish Consulate.