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Honors Students enjoy a night with the CAAS

Photo Courtesy | Philosophy Professor Armen Marsoobian presented on the Armenian genocide during the meeting.

Mackenzie Hurlbert – General Assignment Reporter

Southern Honors College students had the opportunity last Tuesday, Jan. 29 to attend a meeting of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences (CAAS) along with philosophy Professor Armen Marsoobian. Marsoobian was to give a presentation on the Armenian genocide, specifically referring to what he knows of his family’s history.

Patrick Cumpstone, sophomore history and secondary education major, was looking forward to the event. “I had high expectations for the evening, especially for being an event hosted by the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, the third oldest academic society in the nation and also a society established and derived from Yale University,” said Cumpstone. “It would be a great honor to attend a lecture hosted by such a prestigious and significant organization in the field of academia.” The CAAS was incorporated in 1789 and consisted of only Yale members until 1952.

Sophomore Julia Evola decided to attend the event as well because she had prior experience as a student of Marsoobian. “I chose to go to this lecture because I had the opportunity to take one of Professor Marsoobian’s classes, Honors 251: Genocide and the Arts, last semester and it was probably the best college course I have ever taken,” said Evola. “His insight in the Armenian genocide in particular was incredible, and his personal connection to the events that took place almost a century ago really helps a student take interest in the subject.”

At the start of this meeting, the 1,425th in CAAS history, and before Marsoobians presentation, new members of the Academy were introduced, and the three present were from Southern. Professors Brian Johnson and Ilene Crawford along with President Papazian were welcomed and inducted. Papazian was the first university President to become a member of the Academy, and she had a short speech on this achievement in which she described her experience thus far at Southern. It’s important to have a passion and a love for learning, ideas and sharing, said Papazian. As a fan of John Milton, the President earned a few chuckles from English colleagues in the crowd when she mentioned her feelings about administration, “I’ve discovered that the best guide to administration is reading John Milton and ‘Paradise Lost.’”

After this, Marsoobian took to the podium to present his studies which he titled “Resistance and Rescue During the Armenian Genocide: The Story Behind a Photograph.” Within his presentation, Marsoobian described the struggle the Armenian people faced, specifically referring back to family history in the town of Marsovan. Out of the 12,000 Armenians, 307 were allowed to stay under Turkish rule. About 20 of these 307 were members of Marsoobian’s family. He told the story of their survival and experiences while witnessing the genocide of their people, and he described their efforts to hide fugitives who would be executed if found.

Sophomore Steve Krozer had never studied the Armenian genocide, but enjoyed the presentation. “I certainly feel utmost respect for the individuals that made the most out of their situation. To be forced out of your home, to watch as loved ones are taken away to work camps, and to endure the sight of your fellow countrymen being executed must have been an emotional burden for the Armenian people that I cannot imagine,” said Krozer. “In the face of seemingly imminent destruction, the most impressive part about Professor Marsoobian’s lecture was that it appropriately paid homage to the few remaining individuals who clung to a feeling of hope.”

Cumpstone also found the presentation interesting. “I enjoyed how Dr. Marsoobian concentrated his research and presentation on a singular event that was just a small aspect of the genocide as a whole,” he said. “I believe that the most interesting part about his presentation is simply the fact that his research is so personal and meaningful to him, and I think that it is absolutely wonderful that a lot of his family’s history has been preserved through photographs and memoirs and, most importantly, that he is sharing a singular account of the genocide that is so important to learning about the event as a whole.”

Evola, who had studied the subject before in Marsoobian’s class, thought the presentation was impressive. “I was lucky enough to have some background in the Armenian genocide,” she said. “However, I knew very little about how his ancestors were connected to the genocide, so to hear recounts of their bravery and compassion in the face of such brutality was revelatory…I had very high hopes for this event, and they were more than met by Marsoobian’s lecture, as well as the general atmosphere, in both venue and attendees.”

After Marsoobian’s presentation, all guests enjoyed a three-course dinner and some pleasant conversation. In all, it was a well-rounded night of socializing, academia and excellent food. “Overall, the experience was fantastic,” said Krozer. “Not only did I meet several people in the Honors College that I previously had not spoken to, but I was able to live the life of a prestigious academic for the evening. Simply being invited to the New Haven Lawn Club for a Connecticut Academic Society presentation was an honor in itself… If the opportunity arises again to attend another lecture similar to this, I will definitely be attending.”

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