By Albert S. Movsesian
TEWKSBURY, Mass.—Efforts to introduce an Armenian Genocide curriculum throughout high schools north of Boston is gaining momentum with the lectures and discussions held at Haverhill, North Andover, and Wilmington High Schools, and Hovig Donabedian’s success at Westborough High School.
The latest school to take part is Tewksbury High School, where the faculty has developed a Global Awareness Program. This month-long study is intended to heighten the students’ awareness of global crises, economics, politics, environmental issues, history, current events, the state of our world, our globe, our international, national, and local issues. It is intended to help children realize there is so much more happening in the world that affects them and that they, in turn, can affect.
On March 19 and 26, Tewksbury sophomores, juniors, and seniors attended lectures and discussions on the Armenian Genocide. On March 19, Dro Kanayan, Albert Movsesian, and Tom Vartabedian lectured to approximately 120 students on Armenian issues from the genocide to history, geography, the Armenian community in America ,and Armenian contributions to world civilization.
On March 26, another 150 students from the sophomores, juniors, and senior class attended a lecture by Levon Chorbajian, a professor of sociology at UMass Lowell, and Sayon Souen of the Light of the Cambodian Children, Inc. of Lowell, to discuss the history of their genocides, and help students understand the long-term effects genocide can have on civilization.
Chorbajian spoke about the history of the Armenian Genocide and how the lack of recognition led to the continuation of other genocides throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
Sayon Souen spoke to the students on the Cambodian Genocide of the 1970’s and how he was treated when he was taken from his family, and the psychological effects of the Cambodian government’s actions.
Tewksbury is interested in continuing to develop a specialized section on the Armenian Genocide within their Global Awareness Month, and is interested in speaking with Facing History and Ourselves regarding their genocide curriculum and how it can be used within Tewksbury’s framework.
Planting the seed are members of the Armenian Genocide Curriculum Committee of Merrimack Valley, headed by Dro Kanayan, who laid out the groundwork at the schools.
Twelve other high schools in the area have been contacted by letter. Programs have already been initiated in North Andover, Haverhill, and Wilmington with return engagements planned.
“It is very important that the non-Armenian community understands the effects of these crimes against humanity, to help prevent them from happening in the future,” said Kanayan, the grandson of famed Armenian freedom fighter General Dro. “We will continue to work with our school districts to develop an educational program on the Armenian Genocide.”
The newly formed curriculum committee has the support and endorsement of area churches and organizations, including Armenian legislators and noted educators.