By Timmy Dhakaia ‘15
Winning all available slots, hundred dollar awards were given to six students on April 24 for the 18th annual Krieger Essay Contest launched by The Armenian American Society for studies on Stress and Genocide (AASSSG). Essays were written about what the legacy of genocide meant to the writer.
The AASSSG was founded in 1988 to expose the nations’ understanding of the effects of traumatizing experiences, one example being genocide. 80 years after the Ottoman Turkish Genocide of the Armenians, Dr. Ani Kalyjian decided to hold an essay contest to challenge students on their opinion on genocide. The essay must be written by residents of New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, and must include psychological, social, philosophical, or human rights perspectives that focus on any past genocide.
The Krieger Essay Contest originally rewarded three people. After a couple of hundred essays were sent in from Midwood itself, the AASSSG changed the number of award recipients to three per gender. Both this year and last year students from Midwood won all six spots. This year’s winners included sophomores Courtney Erizpohov, Mehreen Kabir, Anson Mah, Alina Merkhassina, Hajra Munir, and Sidra Mutamah. Midwood has participated in this contest for ten years and has had at least two winners every year.
“My essay was about the Armenian genocide and the ongoing implementation of denial by the Turkish government,” said Kabir ’16. “I talked about its effects on bystanders, victims, and perpetrators.”
The essay contest was encouraged by Dr. George Hero, global teacher, and member of the Humans Rights Committee for the World Federation of Mental Health. Dr. Hero proposed this essay contest to all of his global classes. He felt that the topic of genocide was not stressed enough to the student body, and he had exposure to the effects of genocide himself.
“When I first started teaching, the curriculum did mention the holocaust during WWII, but that was about it,” said Dr. Hero. “Back in the late ‘80s I was asked to do a curriculum for the Board of Education based on the Armenian genocide, which later added the Rwandan genocide and now genocide studies are a big component in studying history.”
Dr. Hero said, although it may be a sensitive topic for some, genocide is important for people to know about. For survivors especially, there’s a certain level of healing involved with actually talking about it and recognizing it. One of the major problems to the present day with the Turkish government is denying the Armenian genocide ever occurred. The more the topic of genocide is exposed, the more conscious people will be and the more people will try to take action in preventing them from happening in the future.
“I will definitely recommend people to participate in the contest next year,” said Mutamah’16. “The essay broadened my knowle