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Alabamans Learn ‘All About Armenians’

Educators in Montgomery, Alabama learned ‘All About Armenians’ at a conference this summer, when Audrey Pilafian, Sunday School Superintendent at St. Mary Armenian Church of Hollywood, Florida presented a workshop under that title.

The 50 participating teachers — members of the Alpha Delta Kappa society for women educators – entered the auditorium to the sounds of Gomidas melodies played by Pilafian on the cello.

Aided by multimedia resources provided by Gildak Kupelian, director of the Eastern Diocese’s Armenian Studies department, the educators viewed presentations on ancient Armenia and its geography, its role as the world’s first Christian nation, the Armenian alphabet, the battle of Avarayr, the Armenian Genocide, and prominent Armenians in the arts and various professions.

The day closed with educators joining in a line dance and enjoying a reception of Armenian pastries. “Many teachers commented that the session inspired a new interest in Armenia,” said Audrey Pilafian,“ and several intend to include Armenia in their cultural studies classes in the coming year.”

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Margaret Ahnert has Become a Role Model for Journalism Students

(FAR Blog, Yerevan) – More than 50 students came dressed in their finest for a special meeting to say thanks to their benefactor – renowned American-Armenian writer and journalist Margaret Ajemian Ahnert of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. They were bubbling with energy and excitement to meet with the woman who believed in them and gave them a chance to delve into the world of journalism.

Margaret arrived at Yerevan State University (YSU) with her family with a goal to share updates on her award-winning book ‘The Knock at the Door: A Journey Through the Darkness of the Armenian Genocide,’ to inspire her students, and to, once again, share her mother Ester Ajemian’s story as a Genocide survivor.

The welcome speech by the YSU Journalism Faculty Dean Naghash Martirosyan, eloquently described how the Ester Ajemian Scholarship Program has influenced the students’ experience at YSU, and how important it was to make a positive difference in the lives of the graduates, reiterating the idea that the collaboration will continue.

Established in 2010, the Ester Ajemian Scholarship Program is administered by the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR). It provides full tuition and monthly stipends to female graduate students in Armenia. So far, more than 20 young female scholars have become the proud beneficiaries of Margaret’s generosity.

During the event, Margaret Ahnert shared her commitment to supporting young female journalists through the scholarship, emphasizing with certainty that her students are her world. “I love my family, but when it comes to my students, I say, ‘Sorry Stephane [her son], but the students first,’” she smiles, adding, “I grew up in the Bronx. We didn’t have money to go to college, so after I did go, I thought about the other girls who were like me. When I came to Armenia, I noticed that in a family where a couple had a son and a daughter, the latter had less educational opportunities. So, I thought about establishing the foundation in memory of my mother that would support female students.”

Emma is among five second-year students in YSU’s graduate journalism program who are supported by the Ester Ajemian Scholarship. Along with a copy of The Knock at the Door, Emma has brought a nice bouquet of flowers to the event. “The book is mine, the flowers are for Margaret Ahnert,” she claims. “This is the second year I have received this scholarship, and I’ve never had the opportunity to meet her face to face. I wanted to let her know how much this opportunity has meant to me.”

At the close of the meeting, Margaret Ahnert was awarded with a special appreciation plaque for her continuous support to YSU’s female journalists. The students confided that they felt many emotions that day, since each of them had a unique story connected with Margaret’s generous contribution. Her support has provided huge financial relief for each of the student’s their families.

During her trip in Armenia, Margaret also paid a visit to the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute to deliver copies of The Knock at the Door translated into six languages – Armenian, Russian, Turkish, French, Italian, and Spanish.

“I have been on a ten-year book tour, and wherever I go, I spread light on the Armenian identity as a daughter of a survivor of the Genocide. In my book, I’m talking about the dialogue of two women – mother and daughter. It resonates with the foreigners. They say, “Oh! It’s like my Irish mother,” she said during an interview with a local TV station, stressing the idea that the story should mostly be told to the odars, or non-Armenians.

A humanist by soul and media specialist by specialty, Margaret Ahnert has received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2011) and the Distinguished Humanitarian Award from The Little Flower Children and Family Services in New York. She has also worked as a docent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, taught art appreciation classes, and ran the Fernwood Resort and Hotel in Bushkill, Pennsylvania. Margaret Ahnert is also a member of the National League of American Pen Women.

USHMM Presents ‘Exposing the Darkness: Perspectives on Mass Atrocities’ at FAU, UM

In 2015, staff from the United States Holocaust Museum & Memorial (USHMM) Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide traveled to northern Iraq to document evidence of mass atrocities carried out by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS). They found that IS committed crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing against various minority groups and perpetrated genocide against the Yezidi people. Join us for a discussion about this trip and the importance of bearing witness.

Speakers:

  • Naomi Kikoler, Deputy Director, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin, Photographer

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 7:00 PM

Florida Atlantic University
Live Oak Pavilion
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33431

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 7:00 PM

University of Miami Hillel
Braman Miller Center for Jewish Student Life
1100 Stanford Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146

USHMM-Mass Atrocities