Footsteps to a confronting past
FAMILY Footsteps delivers the best kind of reality TV. It takes participants out of their comfort zone, but does not trade on exploitation or ritual humiliation.
But the show does force people to confront who they are and where they’re from.
The first episode of the second season illustrates the life Joanna Kambourian might be living if she’d been born and stayed in her ancestral homeland, Armenia. Family Footsteps, PG ABC1, Thursday, 8.30pm Tracing ancestry Duration: 1 hour
We see Kambourian, who lives on the NSW coast, travel to Armenia to live with a mentor family in the small village Ohanavan.
Kambourian’s greatest and most confronting challenge came in exploring her family’s dark past.
Kambourian, 30, is the first in her family to visit Armenia in 90 years. Her great grandfather left the village in shame and Kambourian is desperate to find out whether her family can lay to rest the ghosts of the past.
Kambourian was overcome with emotion when visiting a genocide museum. A historian told her that in 1915, under the cover of World War I, the Turks began a systematic genocide of Christians and Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
Kambourian’s great-grandfather was the surgeon general in the Turkish army and to save his family he converted to Islam.
Kambourian learned how there was honour and dignity in refusing to convert, which is why her greatgrandfather was made to feel he’d brought shame to the family.
Modern interpretation of her greatgrandfather’s actions, however, lifts the veil of guilt. He is now seen as someone who simply did what he had to do to survive.
‘‘It’s about resolution,’’ Kambourian says. ‘‘It (the trip to Armenia) has filled in a big hole I’ve felt for a long time’’.
Sadly her father died in May after a prolonged battle with cancer.
Resolution: Joanna Kambourian.