LOS ANGELES—The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region hosted a training series on the Armenian Genocide with Los Angeles Unified School District President Kelly Gonez for teachers and families across Los Angeles County.
The webinars focused on effective methods for implementing Armenian Genocide education in classrooms, exploring the themes of cross-cultural understanding, belonging, and community responsibility.
“This series continues our commitment as a school district to ensure that the Armenian Genocide is not only taught but that it is a critical lesson in recognizing cultural heritage and tolerance across lines of difference,” said Board President Kelly Gonez. “This series will provide our educators with resources to meaningfully integrate powerful lessons in our K-12 classrooms. I’m grateful to the ANCA-WR Education Committee for their ongoing partnership.”
The first training seminar began with a presentation by ANCA-WR Education Committee Board Member Laura Gaboudian, who engaged with educators on the ways in which to introduce Armenian Genocide studies to elementary school students and empower youth to be more proactive community members, incorporating her own book on the Armenian Genocide “Under the Light of the Moon”.
Utilizing the USC Shoah Foundation’s iWitness series, ANCA-WR Education Committee member Lucy Martirossian demonstrated ways in which educators can introduce the complex and often difficult topic of genocide in a developmentally appropriate manner to younger students, allowing them to empathize with the stories of survivors. Both presentations also encouraged teachers to integrate Armenian Genocide education into existing course material, particularly as it pertains to social justice and civil rights.
The training seminars continued the next day with a presentation by ANCA-WR interim executive director Verginie Touloumian and ANCA-WR Education Committee Vice-Chair Sedda Antekelian on the topic of survival and resilience designed for secondary school students.
Examining the power of testimony, Antekelian – Education and Outreach specialist at USC’s Shoah Foundation – utilized iWitness materials to convey the human stories of the genocide in order to develop student empathy when engaging with the subject of genocide, and to examine the historical event through a personalized lens.
Touloumian, presenting on the unprecedented humanitarian response of the United States to the genocide – the country’s first major international humanitarian relief operation – connected the history of the genocide to a local American experience. Introducing educators to the ANCA-WR’s America, We Thank You Initiative, Touloumian highlighted the incredible efforts of humanitarians across the entire United States – demonstrating the power of collective action, and social responsibility in the face of grave injustice.
Both presentations heavily incorporated the educational training materials compiled by the ANCA-WR Education Committee on its website, designed to provide tools and strategies to engage students across a range of age groups on the history of the Armenian Genocide.
The training seminars were attended by over 300 teachers and educators across the Los Angeles Unified School District, with participants sending hundreds of messages of support and feedback noting the ways in which they had sought to incorporate Armenian Genocide education into their teaching and thanking presenters for the invaluable tools highlighted during the presentations.
“The ANCA-WR Education Committee has played an integral role in advancing efforts to incorporate Armenian Genocide education into school curricula across Los Angeles, the State of California, and beyond,” remarked Verginie Touloumian. “Working with educators, teachers’ associations, school boards, and legislators, the committee has made significant progress in institutionalizing genocide education as a means of ensuring the lessons of the past are not forgotten and never repeated,” Touloumian concluded.
In an important step toward this goal, the ANCA has worked closely with Congressional leaders in recent weeks to support the Armenian Genocide Education Act, submitted to Congress on Thursday, April 21st by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) – which has already garnered over 40 co-sponsors.
This landmark legislation, introduced on the eve of the international commemoration of the Armenian Genocide on April 24th, seeks to provide $10 million in funding over five years for the Library of Congress to educate Americans about Ottoman Turkey’s systematic and deliberate state-sponsored mass murder, national dispossession, cultural erasure, and exile of millions of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites, and other Christians, between 1915 and 1923.
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.