ANCA-WR Internship Program Week 10
BY: Martin Makaryan
UCLA, Political Science
The tenth week of ANCA Western Region’s Summer Internship program was full of interesting meetings and lectures, great tweets aimed at uncovering the heinous nature and some of the countless wrongdoings of the Aliyev regime in Azerbaijan, as well as fun and “healthy” discussions.
On Monday, the week started with a successful initiative of coordinated campaign on different social media platforms, organized collectively by the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and the ANCA Western Region Summer 2020 Interns. The goal of the social media campaign was to expose the true face of the genocidal regime of Ilham Aliyev by providing accurate information regarding the latest aggression by Azerbaijan last July which left dozens of soldiers dead on both sides and even more injured, as well as the systematic human rights abuses in Azerbaijan and the aspects of radical Armenophobia that the country has adopted as its official policy. As the largest internship class of ANCA-WR, we were happy and honored to participate actively in this great initiative as a countermeasure to the huge resources that the Aliyev regime is pouring into social media efforts to spread false information and stain the reputation of the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh. Even those interns (such as me) who did not use Twitter, decided to create an account, to make contributions to this campaign and continue engaging in raising awareness. As a result of this coordinated effort of the Armenian communities around the world (especially in the US) and other concerned citizens, the hashtag #StopAliyev trended in Los Angeles and in the United States for hours delivering a morning surprise to Ilham Aliyev.
On Tuesday, the interns had the pleasure to meet Jack Hadjinian, former Mayor of Montebello (Calif.) and a current member of the City Council. Although Mr. Hadjinian’s schedule was completely changed after some unexpected events in the morning, the councilmember was able to find time to talk to the interns about the pressing issues of the day. More specifically, the councilmember had just presented hours before our meeting his resignation to the Board of Directors of the LA County Sheriff’s Youth Foundation because of the irresponsible decision to host a town hall with the so-called “Azerbaijani-American community.” Later, it was revealed that the community conversation was in fact organized thanks to the interference of the Azerbaijani Consulate in LA meaning that the platform would most certainly become another occasion for the Azerbaijani government to spread hateful anti-Armenian propaganda. The councilmember talked about his resignation and the developing events that day, but also introduced the interns to the history of the Armenian community in Montebello, the challenges of local government and his career path as a politician. The presentation was then followed by questions from the fellow interns regarding some of the more pressing questions, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and public safety.
On Wednesday, the interns welcomed Vache Thomassian, Esq., who delivered an interesting lecture about Justice and Solidarity. Mr. Thomassian talked about the philosophical definitions and aspects of these abstract ideas encouraging the interns to consider various issues in an unbiased manner in order to come to a fair conclusion. The speaker also talked about justice and solidarity within the Armenian community and emphasized the importance of showing solidarity with other oppressed groups. Mr. Thomassian also used his time to touch on the fundamental principles of ANCA as a political organization representing the voice of the Armenian-American community. As always, the presentation was followed by a Q&A session during which interns asked follow-up questions about the presentation and questions regarding the speaker’s career path and his advice to the interns who are planning to go into the legal field.
On Thursday, the ANCA Western Region staff welcomed the interns to the organization’s headquarters in Glendale, California. Although the pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our lives, the staff had taken every precaution to make sure the visit of the interns was safe and done in a responsible manner. The interns met with their respective supervisors and took pictures together. Every intern then had a brief interview (my interview took quite some time due to unexpected twists during the filming process) and talked about their overall experience this summer, their involvement in the Armenian community and their advice to the future interns. At the end, the interns received amazing gifts with ANCA-WR logos and heart-warming postcards from the amazing staff. Although fellow interns, Tatyana (Arizona) and Alex (Nevada) could not make it to the office, I am sure they will have the opportunity to visit the office and the staff in Glendale in the future.
Finally, on Friday, the interns had their weekly check-in meeting and the traditional discussion about current events in Armenia and elsewhere. The interns gave updates regarding the progress of their respective projects and Tatyana delivered a short presentation regarding some interesting developments in Armenia. From there, a discussion followed about the latest interview of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to BBC. As rewarding experiences such as this internship come to a close, participants are generally a little bit sad. However, this week was extraordinary in that it was full of genuine laughter, sometimes at the right time and sometimes not really. At any rate, however sad we may be that this wonderful experience is coming to its end, we make sure to keep a positive and fun environment and complete the internship with beautiful smiles and the determination to advance the Armenian Cause, whenever and wherever possible.