On Wednesday, June 27, ten high school finalists from all over the country along with five teachers and two representatives from Facing History and Ourselves paid an organized visit to ALMA. Two representatives from the international law firm of Holland & Knight LLP also accompanied them. They were all involved in the annual Holocaust Essay Contest of that law firm, which this year was programmed by its Boston office.
Although they made their visit to ALMA in order to see the permanent Armenian Genocide Exhibit and the Ukrainian Genocide Exhibit, they feasted on viewing ALMA’s other exhibits of artifacts and as well as the mounted ‘Who are the Armenians’ exhibit. To the delight of many, they were able to see and get a taste of artifacts representing 3,000 years of Armenian culture. They were amazed to learn that Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity and the many references to Armenia in the pre-Christian era by Greek scholars. Some had never heard of the Armenian Genocide. Eagerly, they asked for various explanations, which were provided by ALMA’s curator Gary Lind-Sinanian, Berj Chekijian, acting director and Haig Der Manuelian, Chairman of the Board as well as a senior partner of Holland & Knight.
Two students were so impressed that they asked why Armenian history was not being taught in high schools of America. Others were amazed to learn that over 35 emperors of the Byzantine Empire were of Armenian blood and that one of them, a woman, was the chief executive officer of that vast empire for almost two years. Representatives from Facing History and Ourselves spontaneously commented on ALMA’s rich collection. Although they had been there before, they were amazed at what a warm, rich, and beautiful place ALMA is.
The finalists were treated to various other sights in the Boston area as well as further classroom instruction. The final prize winners were announced at a banquet at the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston. ALMA’s Chairman, Der Manuelian, also participated in a program the following day, Thursday, June 28, at the Boston Public Library as part of a four member panel dealing with issues involving the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide and the Rwandan Genocide.
Four students were awarded monetary prizes for essays describing their visit to ALMA.
The first prize was awarded to Kendall Jones from the Capital High School (Boise, ID); two second prizes went to Anissa Lee from the Winsor School (Wellesley, MA) and Daniela Hernandez-Fujigaki from the Clarksburg High School (Clarksburg, MD). Third prize went to Brian Hula from the Mother of Divine Grace High School (Bellevue, NE).
Click here to read the first prize essay, written by Kendall Jones
ALMA is grateful to both Facing History and Ourselves, and Holland & Knight for recognizing the importance a visit to the Armenian Library and Museum of America would have on the lives of these young students.