April 24th is annually honored as a day of recognition for the Armenian genocide - the date on which Armenian leaders, writers, and intellectuals were taken from their homes in a meticulously organized beginning to what would become the genocide itself.
In our resource book, Crimes Against Humanity and Civilization: the Genocide of the Armenians, we include several poems written by Diana Der-Hovanessian, which explore the diasporan identity that resulted - the pull of belonging to both Armenia and the United States and the legacy of the genocide on her own identity. "Two Voices" is one of those poems and includes this series of questions:
...do I think of my grandmother
at Ellis Island,
or as an orphan in an Armenian village?
Or at a black stove in Worcester...
This year, we honor the commemoration by sharing student poetry written in response to Diana's poem which highlights the connections students made to that pull of multiple identities. These come to us from Sasha Guzman at Social Justice Humanitas Academy. In respect for student identities, we present both without the author names.
We hope this reminder to find common experiences in the human condition can both build compassion and curiosity in honoring and learning about the histories of others.