October 27, 2015
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, a horrific tragedy which occurred during 1915-1923 at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. On October 23, 2015, Lawrence Family Development YouthBuild Students proudly hosted Ara Jeknavorian and Tom Vartabedian, descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors, who shared their personal stories and spoke about the genocide in the context of the ultimate violation of human rights. They shared the atrocious events on the genocide and Rody Lopez, YouthBuild student, commented “It’s crazy how they killed so many people and how everyone forgot about it.”
Mr. Jeknavorian and Mr. Vartabedian are part of an organization called the Armenian Genocide Curriculum Committee of the Merrimack Valley that strives to provide greater insight about why the genocide occurred and how it set the stage and enabled subsequent genocides such as the Jewish holocaust as well as the Bosnian, Rwandan and Cambodian genocides. The organization provides complementary educational resources to local schools. Karlos Delecruz, YouthBuild student and vice-president of the school’s student government, appropriately said “During the genocide they killed millions. It should be in the history books. People need to learn about this.”
While at YouthBuild, students learn about many social justice issues and strive to make their community a better place. For example, while preparing for High School Equivalency exams, students strategize ways to solve complex problems such a bullying and access to healthcare. Additionally, as part of the vocational component of the program, YouthBuild students build affordable housing addressing homelessness and access to home ownership. YouthBuild seeks to educate our opportunity youth to be leaders and powerful agents of change here in the city of Lawrence.