Glendale Unified School District Hosts 3-Day Genocide Workshop

GLENDALE—The Glendale Unified School District hosted a three-day Genocide workshop for teachers from Glendale, La Crescenta, Los Angeles, Santa Monica and neighboring school districts.

Glendale Unified School District has partnered with “Facing History and Ourselves” over the past decade to bring meaningful professional development to teachers. “Facing History and Ourselves” is an organization that delivers classroom strategies, resources and lessons that inspire young people to take responsibility for their world.  “Glendale Unified firmly supports genocide education as not only a curricular imperative, but a moral one.” Dr. Katherine Fundukian Thorosian, Assistant Superintendent.

The most recent seminar offered through this partnership, Crimes Against Humanity and Civilization: The Genocide of the Armenians, was designed to help educators engage in this history and to encourage critical thinking about the role of individuals, groups, and nations in an increasingly interdependent world.  While focusing on the events of the Armenian Genocide during World War I, seminar participants also considered its legacy including questions of denial and the struggle for the recognition of genocide as a “crime against humanity.”  G.U.S.D. Board member, Greg Krikorian, in one of the morning sessions recalled his own family’s experience and noted that it was, unfortunately, not unique in the depth of its tragedy.  Also present for that morning session were Superintendent Dr. Michael Escalante and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Katherine Fundukian Thorossian.

“I’m extremely encourage by the support from our district! For the past decade our district has continuously lead the way in providing professional development for our and neighboring teachers” Greg Krikorian Vice President, Board of Education.

The highlight of the three-day seminar was U.C.L.A. Professor of Armenian and Near Eastern History, Dr. Richard Hovannisian, who spent the morning with participants.  Dr. Hovannisian framed his discussion on a recent trip he took to Turkey and how it made him recognize how “successful genocide can be.”  He noted that the depth of annihilation and degree of loss became painfully evident as he sought, in vain, evidence of an Armenian presence in historically Armenian land.

The Armenian Genocide experience is unique to other genocides or the Holocaust in that it eliminated a homeland and destroyed most of the tangible evidence of its existence.  There was also no global recognition of the Armenian genocide, no apology for wrong doings and no rehabilitation for the survivors.  Dr. Hovannisian stated, “Nothing can bring back or replace what has been lost in the Genocide.”

Dr. Hovannisian reflected upon the role of schools in preserving historical truths. “Memory will prevail when crimes against humanity such as the Armenian Genocide become an undisputed integral part of the collective historical record.  In that endeavor, the roles of education and the educator are critical.”  The Glendale Unified School District is committed to continuing to serve in that role.

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