Yesterday everyone I know in America marched. The gay grandads marched. The Arizona teacher raised on an island filled with Armalites marched. The TV producer mom flew home from a shoot to stand in front of the White House and shout, because her teenage daughter wanted her there. They and others like them want to make the guns go away. The parents of pre-schoolers paid babysitters and made placards and marched. An East Coast Aunt and a Great-Aunt rallied. An Uncle by marriage took to the streets. Students in their millions spoke out for themselves and their safety at school
In Armenia I spent the day in a school auditorium filled with mismatched chairs and excited children. I was in Gavar. On the other side of glorious Lake Sevan, a similar school hall in Hrazdan was packed with equally excited kids, all competing in The National Poetry Recitation Contest. On the face of it, American schools are “better” than those in Armenia– better equipped, better resourced, and run with transparency. Children don’t get hit in American schools. But they do get shot. In Armenia, we have no armed guards at the schoolhouse door.
Yesterday as girls in white blouses with bows in their hair spoke the words of Angelou, and Oliver and Frost, I listened to their beautiful use of English and exulted. “Don’t give way to hating” said the boys reciting Kipling. “We were made for fun” said the girl with braces and the pink coat quoting Yusuf Komunyakaa. Adrian Mitchell’s poem Human Beings was popular: ” Look at life,all that beauty, you are human, we are human, let’s try to be human. Dance!
In Armenia, parents send their boys and girls to school with a hug and a kiss and look forward to seeing them warm, happy and vital at the end of the day. This is how it should be in every country in the world. Be like Armenia my America. More verse, less violence.
Peace Corps seeks donations for a creative English summer camp for 60 Armenian school students who have excelled in the National Poetry Recitation Contest. The camp is a project of the Hanna Huntley Memorial Fund. If you would like to donate to support this initiative please go to:l