The featured photo was taken on April 24, 1997, when I was still a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia. From October 1996 until August 1997, I lived just across the street from Tsitsernakaberd, the Armenian Genocide Memorial, in Yerevan, Armenia.
I think today’s post will be somewhat short. I’m getting a late start today, and there are still some things I’d like to do that don’t involve blogging. I did want to take a few minutes, though, to recognize Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. This is a holiday that occurs in the Republic of Armenia every April 24th, as thousands of Armenians travel to the capital city of Yerevan and make their way up a hillside to pay their respects to people who died in the Armenian Genocide.
As regular readers know, I was a member of the third group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in Armenia. I was assigned the to capital city of Yerevan. It’s my understanding that Volunteers are no longer placed in Yerevan, because it’s gotten to be so modern and “nice” (and no doubt, more expensive). In my days as a Volunteer, Yerevan was “up and coming”, and I got to see it change a lot in just two years. When we arrived in 1995, Yerevan was pretty rough, but by the time we left, businesses were coming in and expanding. The powers that be had already decided that no more Volunteers would serve there, but would instead be sent out to the regions.
If I had to do it over again, I think I would have preferred an assignment outside of the capital city. However, I did end up having a “real” Peace Corps experience, and Armenia is one of those places where a huge portion of the population lives near the capital. So, there’s a lot of action there…
I taught at a school that, when I was a Volunteer, offered all ten “forms”. One of my former students, from a tenth form class during my second year, now works at Peace Corps/Armenia. I think the school where I taught now only handles kids in the early years of their educations. I also think the system has changed since I was a Volunteer, from 1995-97.
My school was named after a poet named Ruben Sevak, who was one of a million Armenians killed in the Genocide in 1915. Back in 1995, Sevak’s daughter, who was then in her 80s and living in France, came to visit the school. I got to meet her. I wrote more about Ruben Sevak here. He was a fascinating man who died much too young. And it was all because of hatred and a basic lack of respect by people for other people, same as any horrendous human rights violation is. Hitler was reportedly inspired by the Armenian Genocide when he came up with his “Final Solution”.
Isn’t it interesting that I now live in Germany, where there are reminders everywhere about the horrors of the past? Except this time, I live in the place where the perpetrators mostly came from, rather than the place where the victims lived. I’ve learned a lot from living in both places, and I’m very grateful that I’ve the opportunities that I’ve had to see and be influenced by both places. I’m not sure how I got so lucky to have these experiences, since I know that most Americans don’t get to travel abroad, let alone live abroad several times, courtesy of the U.S. government.
Anyway… today, I will try especially hard to take a moment to ponder the biggest lessons that came from the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. It really disturbs me to see that same trend happening in the United States now. I’ve noticed a lot of negativity in the United States, especially in the era of Trump and the completely bastardized version of the Republican Party that we have now. I just hope it doesn’t come down to the horrors of the past repeating themselves, although given the gun violence problems we have now, maybe things are already heading in that direction.
Well, that’s about it for today’s post. Gotta take Noyzi for a walk and have some lunch… and then, maybe plow through more of my latest book, so I can post a new review. Catch you all later.