DESCENDANT OF GENOCIDE SURVIVOR PRESENTS HER BOOK ON ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
- Union County College (US) hosted a discussion led by alumna Virginia Matosian Apelian, daughter of Armenian genocide survivors, to kick off the college's Alumni Association Authors Series on Nov. 20 in the Roy Smith Theater.
According to NJ.com, the 1973 graduate of Union County College shared story after story from her recently released memoir, Musa Dagh Girl: Daughter of Armenian Genocide Survivors, published by Xulon Press.
The memoir delves into Armenian history, touching back all the way to the year 300, when Armenia became the first nation to declare itself Christian.
Much of the book, however, focuses on how Apelian's life was affected by the Armenian Genocide, during which leaders of the Ottoman Empire ordered the extermination of the Armenian people in 1915, leading to the deaths of over one million Armenians.
The book's title refers to Mount Moses, "Musa Dagh" in Turkish, the site at which a group of Armenians resisted against Turks during the Armenian Genocide, as well as the area in which Apelian was born about fifteen years after the end of the genocide.
Apelian lived as a refugee in Lebanon until she was twelve and told the audience of the harsh conditions her family faced there, explaining that many refugees died of malaria and other diseases in the swamp-like conditions.
"That was place was not a place for human beings to live, but that was a place away from the Turks," she said. "So our people were happy."
Apelian had a near-death experience as a refugee in Lebanon after being given an experimental cholera vaccination, because, she explained, refugees were used for many medical tests. The vaccination left her temporarily unable to move or breathe properly.
When she was twelve, Apelian moved to Paterson, New Jersey after her parents determined that political instability in the region had made it too unsafe to continue living in Lebanon.
She told the audience about the culture shock she faced after arriving in the United States, and how, despite having started high school in Lebanon, she was placed in the second grade in school.
Through persistent goading of teachers, principals, and other members of the school administration, Apelian was able to get back on track and moved into high school.
She began taking classes at Union County College after moving to Clark, getting married, and having four children, whom she took care of throughout her time at the college. She then studied psychology at Douglass College of Rutgers University and went on to lecture on motivational speaking for over 25 years.
Apelian also served in local government in Clark for about ten years and became the first female council president of the township in 1982.
She told the audience that she hopes her story will inspire others to remain determined and hardworking, even in the face of difficulty and hardship.
"Be the best you can be and make a difference," she said.
This article is re-published from NJ.com.
- 1965 Death of satirist Leo Kamsar. He was born in 1889.
- 1980 Awards named after Mesrop Mashtots, Petros Adamian, Anania Shirakatsi, Abovyan, Saryan and Komitas are created in Armenia for famous Diasporan Armenians.
- 1988 The Armenian Supreme Soviet adopts a law on the Condemnation of the 1915 Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
- 1988 An International Scholars' Meeting on the theme: "Remember for the Sake of the Future" takes place in Oxford, (Great Britain). The Armenian Genocide is referred to on several occasions.
- 1993 The "drum" becomes legal tender in Armenia.