This week, the Armenian Student Association worked to commemorate the 104th anniversary of the Armenian genocide on April 24 and honor the deaths of over 1 million lives lost.

“One hundred years later and the effects are still there,” said Michael Kesablian, a second-year manufacturing engineer student and representative of the Armenian Student Association.

The Armenian Student Association set up crosses in Voorhis Park to remember the lives lost in the Armenian genocide. (Taylor Johnson | The Poly Post)

During the genocide, people fled to countries such as Russia, Syria and Iran. Kesablian said the genocide has caused Armenians to have many differences between them, such as speaking multiple dialects with different cultures. 

“Even though we are technically the same, there are so many big differences,” he said. 

Growing up attending an Armenian private school from kindergarten through high school, Kesablian said it was important for him to find an Armenian community on campus. 

He said being a part of the Armenian Student Association has allowed him to spread awareness throughout campus about the lasting effects the genocide has had on Armenian people. 

Armenian Genocide Week is one of the biggest events for the club, as the members work to maintain their primary goal of spreading awareness. 

“We want people to understand that we don’t want to repeat the past; we do want to move forward,” said Eric Adamian, a fourth-year computer science student and vice president of the Armenian Student Association. 

At the start of Armenian Genocide Week, the ASA set up a replica of a monument in Voorhis Park, similar to one in Armenia, that serves as a mass grave site for the lives lost. 

Kesablian explained that the rugged appearance of the crosses was purposeful, since at the time of the genocide, people used anything they could find to honor the loss of their loved ones. 

The circle next to the crosses, which in Armenia has a flame in the center, represents eternal remembrance, while the peak represents how they will stand tall forever. 

“I was really proud of ASI (Associated Students Inc.) and our student body for being so supportive of our monument,” Kesablian said. “I was really happy to be a part of Cal Poly (Pomona) just to see the support that everybody had toward us.” 

Another way the club honored the Armenian genocide was by painting the CPP letters in the colors of the Armenian flag. 

Adamian said the club wanted to reach out to the student body and show the colors of the flag, as he often finds himself surprised that people do not know the full history of the genocide. 

One of the biggest events of the week, though it is not on campus, is the March for Justice in Los Angeles, on April 24.

Thousands of people gathered on the streets of Los Angeles to bring awareness and recognition for the history of their loved ones. 

“Every family basically has a story somehow, someway and how it affected them,” Kesablian said.

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