ANCA-WR Fall 2021: Week 7-8
ANCA-WR Fall 2021: Week 7 and 8
ANCA WR Fall interns began week 7 by diving into the priceless cultural heritage of the Armenian people. As an opening to the week, the interns had the honor to welcome the mastermind behind Storydoc productions and the filmmaker of “The Hidden Map”, Ani Hovhannisian. As a part of the lecture, we had the opportunity to reflect on the Armenian Genocide, and see the reflection of pain and violence. “The Hidden Map” is a documentary that shares the journey of Ani Hovhanissian and her longing to the Armenian heritage that traces all the way back to the Western Armenia. The interns got a look into her adventure of discovering herself and reasserting the Armenian lands and history. It is through her that the interns were able to highlight the importance of connecting with our ancestors and raising awareness about our homeland.
The lecture was a great debriefing of her journey along discovering the relics of Armenian history that has been stolen throug the Armenian Genocide. As a Fresno native, Ani Hovhannisian took it upon herself tp embark on a journey of identifying her own roots as her grandparents were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Throughout her journey in now Eastern Turkey Ani Hovhannisian, who is later accompanied by a Scottish explorer Steven Sim, traces back into her ancestry as a way to understand the pain her grandparents went through while she was living a fairytale childhood. In her documentary, Hovhannisian travels to Sis, Kharpert, Ani, and so many other cities of villages that were once a part of Western Armenia. She reflected that Armenia is everywhere, and everything is REAL. Her journey allowed us to reflect on the hell and miracle of our heritage; the pain and the blessing we have as a nation of such history. Armenian history is the biggest source of hope and aspiration, yet it is also a source of pain. And most importantly, we understood the importance of exposure and raising awareness through the opportunity that was given us by ANCA.
For the second lecture of week 7 we had the opportunity to welcome Glendale City Clerk Councilmember Ardy Kassakhian , who has shared his experiences in the world of politics and gave advice on interns interested in helping the Armenian community through politics. Ardy Kassakhian served as the elected City Clerk for Glendale for 15 years having been elected and re-elected 4 times by Glendale’s voters. This tells of his success in politics and the implementation of tactics that allow us to have a voice and change the law in favor of the Armenian cause. We learnt his journey as a politician and how he had internships at several Congressmen, which taught us the importance of networking and identifying politicians that want to help Armenia and the Armenian diaspora. Learning about his experience in college and how he was able to support the Armenian cause through his local Armenian Student Association not only gave the interns the inspirations but also the confidence moving forward and enforcing new strategies to support Armenia at an earlier point of our lives. Ardy Kassakhian taught the interns that they can work with any resources possible and encouraged everyone to use the resources that are available at ANCA to have a say in Armenias’ future.
As part of Week 7 the government affairs group of interns made a great effort to research congressmen as a part of the task to identify possible key figures in any resolution that could be suggested by the Armenian community.
ANCA WR interns continued looking into the cultural heritage that was left behind because of war and violence. For the first lecture on Tuesday we welcomed Simon Maghkayan, a Visiting Scholar at Tufts University, who is also studying for PhD in Heritage Crime at Cranfield University. The interns learned about the attempts to wipe off Armenian heritage from Azerbaijani lands, and how we must act fast to ensure the cultural unity of Armenia is not erased from our ancestral lands. With thorough research, backed up by satellite images of several decades, Simon Maghkayan reflected on the aftermath of Armenian-Azerbaijanian war and how several Armenian monasteries were successfully erased from those lands. For several decades, the Azerbaijanian government made attempts to erase Armenian history from our ancestral lands, while praising their high tolerance for other cultures and how the country embraces diversity. Satellite images prove that the government is implementing ways to flatten the lands that one were once full of monasteries and churches. The Surb Kristapor in Nakhichevan, Vankasar, Dadivank are all examples of attempts of Armenian cultural erasure. It is important to raise awareness on this issue as the Armenian government has been accused of such actions as well, hence, we should reassert the ones at fault and expose the attempts of the final erasure of Armenians. If we do not stop the erasure, we are vulnerable\le to replacement of Armenian churches with their Azerbaijani analogies. Surb karapet was fully destroyed and replaced with a Muslim monastery. ANCA WR interns value the power of media and understand how it should be used to reveal the truth about our own cultural treasures.
For the last lecture of week 8, the interns welcomed Ryan Griffiths, a professor at Syracuse university that has done research on sovereign states. The interns had the opportunity to learn about secession and the sovereignty game. The sovereignty game has its own actors and tactics, sovereign states and secession movements have their own incentives, which often are antagonists of one another. While secession movements desire to join states to have a voice and representation, some sovereign states want to reconsider for those movements to join as a separate state as they could modify voting patterns and greatly affect power distribution across a region. Hence, the secession movements have to think of ways to appeal to those sovereign states and persuade them to vote in favor of their sovereignty. Artsakh being a de-facto country, should aim to be internationally recognized as a sovereign state, yet certain countries would be against it as it would jeopardize their influence and attempts to take over. Yet, certain states have power and networks over other countries, so they could enforce a certain outcome. Understanding secession movements allowed the interns to understand compelling and natural appeals of secession movements and the process they go through towards recognition by other sovereign states.
The program allows the intern not only to learn more about their own culture but fight for it as well. Through the lectures and the networking opportunities provided weekly, ANCA inspires its interns to go beyond the media and initiate a change directly. The Government affairs group of interns continued their effort of researching politicians to see who is an ally of the Armenian cause, while keeping an eye out for important changes in legislation that could affect the Armenian community.
Learning the cultural and political values of our lands was a great way to end these couple of weeks and allowed the interns to prepare for future endeavors.