‘They shall not perish’ – Armenian Genocide workshop for New Jersey teachers

Asbarez  -The Genocide Education Project, the Near East Foundation and the Armenian Cultural Association of America partnered to provide an educator’s workshop at Fairleigh Dickinson University of New Jersey on October 6th. Entitled They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief – Teaching about America’s Response to the Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Genocides, 1915-23, the October 6 workshop unveiled the new curriculum, “They Shall Not Perish -– The Story of Near East Relief, ” and drew 30 educators and community members.

With welcoming remarks from Diana Cvitan, Director of Global Learning and Partnerships at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Karine Shnorhokian, representing the Armenian Cultural Association, educators were offered a full-day of presentations. They received training on the methodology of genocide education, historical background, the work of Near East Relief in rescuing Armenian Genocide survivors, and a familiarization with the new curriculum booklet, “They Shall Not Perish,” written by author and retired social studies teacher, Ron Levitsky, and edited and published by NEF, GenEd, and ACA.

“It’s important that students not only learn of the Ottoman Turkish government’s systematic annihilation of the Armenian population, but examine the international response” said Cohan, GenEd’s Education Director, who gave the teachers educational and historical context for using the new lesson plan. “We’re proud to present this new curriculum which brings all these elements together, offering students a unique piece of their own American history.”

Molly Sullivan, Director and Curator of Near East Relief Historical Society led teachers through an engrossing pictorial history of the Near East Relief’s efforts in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide.

Educators were also introduced to Lucine Karjian, the daughter of an Armenian Genocide survivor who lived in Bird’s Nest orphanage in Beirut, run by Near East Relief. Karjian told teachers about her parents’ genocide survival stories and how her father’s family were greatly helped by Near East Relief.

Lesson Plan on America’s Response

Ron Levitsky, lead author of the new curriculum booklet, reviewed the unit and how teachers can incorporate it into their coursework. “They (NER) bore witness to the genocide…,” said Levitsy. “These workers…became points of light in a brutal and horrific darkness.”

Workshop leaders urged teachers to introduce their students to the parallels between the Armenian Genocide prototype and the genocides which followed in the 20th and 21st centuries.

GenEd Expands Centennial-related Projects

The New Jersey workshop was part of a major GenEd drive to take advantage of the heightened attention to 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, to bring this history to as many educators and classrooms as possible.

Since fall, 2014, GenEd has provided professional development workshops and presentations to more than a dozen gatherings of educators in school districts and academic conferences, reaching hundreds of teachers and school administrators.

GenEd’s New Teaching Resources on Genocide & Memorialization

In addition, GenEd has published new curriculum for use in US and World History courses; Aside from “They Shall Not Perish,” GenEd also developed a lesson plan on the theme of “memorialization” and another on the newly expanded, “Ten Stage of Genocide.” An impactful Armenian Genocide poster was printed for distribution into Social Studies classrooms. In California, GenEd is providing expertise to help properly include this history in the state’s curriculum requirements.

Upcoming GenEd Outreach

  • Oct 21: GenEd’s Education Director, Sara Cohan speaks on “The Armenian Genocide in U. S. Schools” at the Middle Tennessee State University’s annual Holocaust Studies Conference; GenEd advisory board members, Dr. Richard Hovanissian, Steven Jacobs, and Paul Bartrop are also featured speakers
  • Oct 22: In collaboration with the Florida Holocaust Museum and the Florida Armenian Genocide Centennial committee, GenEd trains Tampa area middle and high school teachers.
  • Oct 23-24: GenEd displays its resources at the Grassroots Conference in Los Angeles, educating Armenian-American community activists on advocating for genocide education in their local schools.
  • Nov 13-14: GenEd presents an Armenian Genocide workshop and a resource booth at the National Council for the Social Studies conference in New Orleans, attended by approximately 4,000 teachers
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