BY: Mena Keshishzadeh

UC Berkeley, Political Science

Week 9 kicked off with ANCA-WR Board Member Gev Iskajyan’s lecture focused on elections and candidate endorsements. Iskajyan’s presentation allowed the interns to get a better understanding of the inner workings of a campaign and how priorities are set. He also spoke about the strengths that are correlated with having a community that depends on ANCA-WR to endorse the candidates that are usually supporting Armenian-American issues.

Iskajyan also gave the interns a lesson about Real Politics and how issues-based solidarity differs from transactional support. This tied in with how the ANCA goes about when analyzing and endorsing candidates as well as the effect this has on the outcome of an election.

On Tuesday, the Western Region interns were invited to a zoom meeting with the ANCA Leo Sarkissian interns. The interns had a chance to meet one another and discuss the projects they had worked on during their internship tenure. It allowed for bridges to be built and connections be made.

During the meeting, the Western Region interns also got to hear about the Leo Sarkisian Internship as well as the Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program which allows young professionals to get their foot into governmental work. Tereza Yerimyan, who had met the interns from previous meetings, gave a rundown on how each program works.  Both programs are designed to give students and young professionals the tools necessary to effectively advance issues of concern to the Armenian American community on the federal, state and local level and gain professional experience. 

The meeting was a great success in that new friendships were formed and the interns learned about new opportunities for the future!

On Wednesday August 5, Dickran Khodianian spoke to the interns about Javakh. First, the interns were given historical context on Javakh, a region which now belongs in Georgia. Khodanian spoke about the history of the Armenian community. He spoke about how the two communities of new and old Armenians began to coexist and populate this region. This issue is interesting, yet complicated. Khodanian also went into Javakh Aid, and spoke about his personal experience of taking resources and goods into Javakh. Our internship coordinator, Verginie Touloumian also gave her insight and experiences during the call. The meeting was not only informative, but inspirational.

On Thursday, the interns had a meeting with Aram Manoukian from the AYF. The meeting was meant to inform the interns about what the AYF exactly is and does. Manoukian spoke about the history, mission and impact of the AYF, mentioning that it is similar to the ANCA, but a bit less governmental based. Interns got to learn about how the AYF functions as well as how to get involved. Manoukian gave insights on his experience at the AYF, mentioning that it has connected him to various Armenians around the globe. He talked about how he has met Armenians from all around the world including Argentina, Lebanon and Iran. He mentioned that the connections built within the community lead to lifelong friendships. Interns were told about the relationship between the ANCA and the AYF, as they are sister organizations which both advocate for the Armenian cause. This meeting allowed for the interns to learn about another way to stay involved and further their impact after the internship.

On Fridays, the interns meet to recap and talk about the previous week. This gives the interns a chance to reflect on what they have learned and to further the conversations started by the speakers. The interns take turns speaking about what meetings they enjoyed and what they learned throughout the week. Attention is also focused on giving updates on the interns personal projects and keeping each other informed about what is going on. The meeting consisted of the western region interns speaking about how they loved meeting the interns from England and the East Coast. Several of the interns had also planned future zoom meetings with the other interns to discuss projects and share ideas. Fridays are great because the interns get to chat amongst themselves and share their thoughts and ideas while reflecting on the vast amount of information they learned throughout the week. 

Artsakh and Armenia are

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