Laura Michael Lectures on Historic Armenia Pilgrimage and the Importance of DNA-Testing Armenian Genocide Descendants

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Laura Michael delivered a lecture titled “Finding Home: An Armenian American’s Journey to Historic Armenia” at an event hosted by the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) “Ani” Chapter, at Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church, on Dec. 28. The standing-room-only presentation was followed by delicious refreshments enjoyed by all.

Laura Michael explaining why she took the trip to Historic Armenia (Photo: ARS “Ani” chapter)

Pauline Getzoyan, ARS “Ani” chapter chair, welcomed everyone in attendance and introduced Michael, who was born and raised in Providence and now resides in Los Angeles. Michael is a member of the Armenian National Committee of America—Western Region (ANCA-WR) Education Committee and works as a school district administrator in Southern California. Der Kapriel Nazarian also spoke and led all attendees in prayer before the lecture.

Members of the audience (Photo: ARS “Ani” chapter)

During her presentation, Michael discussed her personal experience of being the first person in her family since the Armenian Genocide to step foot in Historic Armenia and confront her family’s past. She also shared photographic evidence of the cultural genocide still occurring all over Historic Armenia in cities such as Diyarbakir, Kharpert, Palu, Van, Sasoun, Bitlis, Erzurum, and Mush.  Ancient Armenian monasteries, churches, homes, and other buildings lie in ruins and are repeatedly vandalized, or they have been completely razed or converted into mosques.

George Aghjayan explaining the importance of visiting Historic Armenia and of DNA-testing (Photo: ARS “Ani” chapter)

In the second half of her presentation, Michael revealed some amazing discoveries regarding her family’s ancestral home, as well as some newly discovered relatives in the village of Havav, just outside of Palu.  She was also joined by George Aghjayan, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Eastern U.S. Chair, who explained the mapping assistance he provided, as well as the benefits of visiting Historic Armenia and participating in the DNA Project for Armenian genealogical research and personal purposes.

Michael showing DNA testing in progress (Photo: ARS “Ani” chapter)

To conclude the evening, Michael revealed that she has authored a new children’s early chapterbook titled Under the Light of the Moon, a historical fiction narrative that details the work of Near East Relief and child actor Jackie Coogan in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide. The book will be published this spring by Mascot Books. For more information, visit


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Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.


  1. It is best to use the term Western Armenia instead of Historic Armenia.

    You can also say “Western Armenia (presently eastern Turkey)” if you are talking or writing to a non-Armenian or not knowledgeable audience.

    Also, don’t use the word Anatolia. It is too generic and is an attempt by Turks and others to eliminate the name Armenia and its people and history.

    Some people prefer the term Armenian Highlands.

    And please don’t say that “Medz Yeghern” means Great Catastrophe.

    It means “Great CRIME.” See past articles in the Armenian Weekly.

    Don’t use the name Karabagh without mentioning that its ancient and present Armenian name is Artsakh.

    Words matter.

    • Dear Vartkes,
      I agree, words matter, which is why I choose to refer to my ancestral homeland as Historic Armenia vs. Western Armenia. Western Armenia falsely implies that we are still in possession of this region, which unfortunately, we are not. I wish with all my heart that eastern Turkey was still inhabited by our people but the reality is that this land is only historically Armenian.

  2. What do I need to do to connect with Historic Armenia and dna Project for Armenian Genealogical Research and personal purposes?

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