Interviews

 

Alumna's book shines light on forgotten history of Armenian genocide

Alumna's book shines light on...

Kay Mouradian’s mother survived the Armenian genocide at the age of 14.

However, while Mouradian heard stories of her mother's experiences as a child, the alumna wouldn't really learn about the details of the horrific event until she began writing a book on the subject called "My Mother's Voice" in her 50s.

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‘An Interview with Dr. Kay Mouradian’:
High School World History Curriculum Reform Advocate

Email Interview with Dr. Kay Mouradian...

Kay Mouradian is a professor emerita from the Los Angeles Community Colleges, holds a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University and degrees from Boston University and UCLA.

After retiring from the Los Angeles Community Colleges she has dedicated her life to ensuring that this country's high school World History teachers teach "a very important but often forgotten three-year period of history."

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‘My Mother’s Voice’: A Daughter’s Account of Her Mother’s Survival

Dr. Kay Mouradian’s novel, ‘My Mother’s Voice’, tells...

the biographical story of the writer’s mother Flora Munushian, and her journey of surviving the genocide as a young teenage girl. The idea for the novel came decades later, when Munushian became ill, impelling Mouradian to write about her mother’s past. “Often I felt like a detective as I tried to piece together scenes that became pieces of a puzzle. Researching and writing my mother’s story opened avenues of discovery and knowledge that have enriched my understanding of life,” she tells the Weekly in an interview.

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Kay Mouradian tracks the death of a people through the life of her mother in ‘My Mother’s Voice’

Ask Kay Mouradian what keeps her young, and she’ll smile.

Her large, green eyes focused and alert, she’ll say something like, “I have erased the word ‘age’ from my vocabulary.” Or she’ll mention the routines she has acquired over the past five or six decades, including tennis three times a week, skiing, yoga and ameditation. Healtahy habits are part of the equation, but there is something else, too: Mouradian, who last year completed a documentary film, still wants to learn, and she certainly isn’t done teaching. At 79, she is on a quest.

Mouradian likes to say that she spent her younger years having a good time. Born to Armenian parents and raised in Watertown, Mass., she studied at Boston University, then at UCLA. She learned yoga and meditation, traveled to India and spent two years in Germany, working as a civilian for the US Army. Mouradian taught health and physical education at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College for 25 years while earning a doctorate degree in education from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. She has published articles and a book about yoga and meditation, a topic she plans on returning to soon.

The quest began when Mouradian was about 50 and her ailing mother, Flora, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, told her, “You will write a book about my life.” Mouradian obliged. Her book, a novel titled “A Gift in the Sunlight,” was published in 2006. Last year, the South Pasadena resident followed up with the documentary “My Mother’s Voice.” The film — the directorial debut of sound designer Mark Friedman — won honorable mention at the Pomegranate Film Festival in Toronto in October. It was also an official selection for the ARPA Film Festival in LA in November.

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Pasadena Daily Photo Interview

Guest Author: Kay Mouradian and A Gift in the Sunlight

Long-time visitors may remember my brief profile of Kay Mouradian in May of 2010. Besides her current novel she has also written books on yoga and meditation. (Wow! I want the brand new copy!) Please welcome today's Guest Author, Kay Mouradian.

 

I wish I had known more about my mother Flora. She was 18 when she came to America in 1920 to marry my father, a man she knew only from a photograph. Becoming an orphan after losing her family in the Armenian genocide, my mother took a chance that the man in the picture would take care of her and I am a witness to say that he did.
When I was a kid growing up in Boston, Mom would tell me stories about her tragic life in Turkey, but those stories went in one ear and out the other. I was too busy trying to be an American kid, like my Irish and Italian friends, so I never really knew what happened to my mother during World War I. All that changed when she nearly died at the age of 83. That’s when I started to read about Ottoman Turkey during the Great War and became overwhelmed with the depth of cruelty inflicted on the Turkish Armenians in 1915. I then learned how that catastrophe had broken my mother’s heart and changed her life forever and I knew her story needed to be told.

 

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Witness to Genocide by Jake Armstrong

How one survivor of the Armenian Genocide made peace with the past, and why the United States has yet to do likewise

For 400 miles Flora Munushian Mouradian and her family marched, the dead and dying underfoot as nearly an entire nation inched closer to oblivion.
This forced exodus from Turkey was filled with horrors, and by its end the 14-year-old Mouradian would see her share of them — Turkish soldiers trying to abduct her and her sister, the disappearance of her brother at the hands of the same soldiers, the death of her grandmother during the march to Syria, and camps filled with tens of thousands of Armenians on the brink of starvation.

 

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Pasadena Daily Photo - Kay Mouradian

I love writers of all kinds. I love journalists, novelists, humorists, essayists and anyone who works hard to make the words meaningful when they put pen to paper or fingers to keys.

And Kay Mouradian is particularly easy to like, because she's Kay.

This photo of her with a fan at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is typical of her because it shows how intently she listens. Kay was signing her book, A Gift in the Sunlight, An Armenian Story, at the Abril Armenian Book Store booth. A Gift in the Sunlight is Kay's novel based on her mother's experiences in the Armenian Genocide.

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Writers in Residence Interview with Kay Mouradian

Welcome, Kay.

A Gift in the Sunlight was inspired by actual events that happened to your mother. How were you able to distance yourself emotionally from that traumatic history and craft a novel out of historical fact?

It was tough at times. I went through a lot of Kleenex and wrote a lot in a meditative state where the scenes would just come to me so I could write them. The driving force for me was a sense of responsibility to history. Some say I was too easy on the Turks in my novel, but that was intentional. I did not want to write something inflammatory or too painful to read. I just wanted to educate people about what really happened.

What sparked your interest in writing this book? You’ve remarked that you used to be uninterested in the story; what changed your attitude?

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