Armenian Teen Acknowledging Genocide But Not Being Defined By It

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My great-grandparents witnessed the slaughter of their loved ones in the Armenian Genocide. As an Armenian, the Genocide is a big part of my identity. But it’s not the only part.

When I talk about the Armenian Genocide, it’s personal. My ancestors braved death marches, mercenaries, and refugee camps. This doesn’t make for comfortable conversation.

Whenever I bring it up with friends, they’re usually indifferent:

“So what? It happened a hundred years ago.”

Their reactions make me defensive. But feeling like the Genocide defines us, that’s dangerous too.

It’s hard to teach about the Genocide without making it seem like that’s all Armenia is. We’ve got to balance the need for recognition with progress towards the future.

I want to celebrate all of my heritage so I don’t forget what being Armenian is really about. I speak Armenian at home, eat Armenian food, and celebrate Armenian holidays. Remembering the Genocide is just another component of being Armenian — not the only one.

Sure, I teach people about the Genocide, but I’m learning to teach about the other important parts, too.



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