Essay Contest winner, prompt: What book character do you admire most and why?
Veron Dumehjian is my personal symbol of perseverance. Taken from her home before the age of ten and put through insufferable physical and emotional trauma, Veron takes her circumstances and makes the most of them. With her innermost thoughts put to paper by her son, David Kherdian, Veron's story of loss and triumph completely dismantled the way I viewed the world and reshaped it into my current lens.
I initially read this book upon the recommendation of my history teacher, as the book itself is an account of the Armenian genocide of 1914. However, after studying the book, I found myself rather fascinated with the main character, Veron Dumehjian. She, even as a small child, displayed enough maturity to understand her situation within the Middle East, and understand what being an Armenian meant in this time period. However, instead of renouncing her religion and culture to survive, as many did, she and her family marched through the desert to die instead of adopting Islam. While in an orphanage in Syria, an offer was put forward to anyone who had the desire to go to England and continue with her education. Veron did not leave. Rather, she remained with cruel extended family members in order to see her grandmother and aunt once again. Why? To Veron, piecing her family back together and her culture were more essential than her own intellectual curiosity.
At the finale of The Road from Home, I had an epiphany: if Veron could survive Cholera in a refugee camp, I could survive another four-hour-long winter guard rehearsal without complaining like a spoiled brat. If Veron could withstand genocide, I could withstand anything. A previously unknown perspective graced me: the ability to "take things in stride". I am very much a perfectionist, so moving past personal blemishes is difficult for me. Upon reading The Road from Home, however, I grew to realize that nothing I have struggled with can approach the magnitude of what Veron went through, and if Veron could not only survive but remain faithful and strong and courageous and kind, surely I could do the same.
The concept of family is one that I used to take for granted innumerable times prior to my reading of The Road from Home, as Veron herself often did before the deportation. But as her family slowly disappeared, both Veron and I began to see our family in a new light. Veron's mother, sister, brother, uncle, father, and friends perished right before her very eyes, and if I superimposed myself into Veron's place, I may have gone insane. Veron, on the other hand, remained steadfast in her beliefs. I truly admire her level of conviction, even if her beliefs differed from me.
The education system at my school, and quite possibly the entire county, is fundamentally flawed. I have almost completed high school, and no mention beyond the recommendation of a book by one history teacher has been made of the Armenian Genocide, and while I have had the pleasure of Veron's experiences to educate me, this bloody and pointless event where over one million parents, spouses, children were massacred in the worst fashion, is not taught. This may be more devastating that the genocide itself. Part of the reason I wish to major in International Relations is because of the influence Veron's story had on me.