“In writing fiction, you had said that we should put our opinions aside. In my opinion a writer’s work is always reflected upon his opinion. So in this situation, how are students supposed to participate in this project when all of us know about the subject is our opinion?” This was one of the questions asked to the speaker Metin Arditi during his public lecture that took place on the 4th of November at the American University of Armenia. As it turned out to be, Arditi was informing us about a project he’s soon to launch.
©Gregory Mailot – DR
Metin Arditi was born in Ankara, Turkey and left for Switzerland for a boarding school and has been living there ever since. He is also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, who founded “Instruments for Peace” for support of Palestinian and Israeli young musicians with the help of Palestinian poet Elias Sanbar. He spoke of another project of his for the Palestinian and Israeli students in which they had to write putting themselves in each other’s shoes after the war had happened. Apparently, this project had great success; about 500 students from both countries had participated.
Arditi had come to AUA and spoke of his next project, which is similar to what he has done in Palestine and Israel but this time he’s launching this project in Armenia and Turkey. “I want Armenian students to put themselves in the shoes of Turkish students and vice versa and write about what would happen if a Turkish and an Armenian met in the future, about what they would or wouldn’t say to each other, what they would reveal or hide from each other.”
He didn’t exactly tell what he expects us to write, but a student with a basic common sense would understand that the founder of “Instruments of Peace” foundation would probably enjoy reading about piece.
Another question that was addressed to Arditi by one of AUA’s professors was: “Every fiction is based on a narrative, every narrative is based on truth. How are Turkish students supposed to write if their truth – which is denying the genocide- is based on a fiction?” Arditi’s answer to this was that he doesn’t use the word genocide, he never even said it once. He says “This has nothing to do with the genocide but has a lot to do with how people with conflict can put things aside and bring upon a peaceful future”.
A student asked him: “As a human being with a human heart, what do you think of the genocide?” Arditi had responded that the genocide is very close to his heart because he remembers his mother telling him a story about the genocide that his mother had heard from her mother. He said the line that hit him close to his heart was: “The soldiers just came and took everybody”.
One thing we know is that Metin Arditi is a courageous man. Not only did he ask Armenian and Turkish students to participate together in a writing competition but also did not ask the governments for permission to launch this project. “I did not ask the Turkish Government for permission and neither am I going to ask the Armenian Government because this is not a thing of politics but rather a thing of humanities”. These were the words of Arditi, but again it was very difficult not to notice the implicit political message of his speech.
I don’t know how students from other universities welcomed him, but he didn’t expect so much resistance from the audience at AUA.
Although the lecture was about fiction writing, we didn’t learn much about it. The only fiction was his “non-political” speech. I strongly encourage Armenian students to be involved in international and local projects and contents, but I secretly hope, they will be conscious enough not to be manipulated.
Love and peace.