In this excerpt from Araz Artinian’s 20 Voices documentary, we are introduced to personal reflections about the journey from the former Ottoman Empire, after the 1915 Armenian Genocide, to the United States. Many of the testimonies are with people who arrived at Ellis Island as children, some of whom had been separated from their families during and after the genocide, and all of whom had witnessed the horrors of genocide first hand.
Refection Questions and Teaching Suggestions
Before opening a conversation, allow students an opportunity for open reflection.
You might begin a discussion by asking students to share a word or a phrase from the testimony that resonanted. You can ask students to explain their choice, or just let the words sit.
If you prefer to structure the viewing, ask students to follow the see-feel-think-wonder thinking routine during the film and after to gather their thoughts.
You might lead the conversation towards a discussion of contemporary refugees. If so, create an opportunity for a thoughtful connection, using the same – different – gain routine.
Consider what these stories suggest about the challenges and opportunities of creating new lives in new countries after the genocide. What strengths do these survivors bring with them? What support might they need to rebuild their lives in the new country?
These refugees were given the opportunity to settle in the United States, most refugees do not get that opportunity. In fact, many refugees spend decades in refugee camps, close to their former homes. What do you think a just refugee immigration policy would be? How would you decide who would be allowed to resettle in your country? What criteria might you use?