ANCA-WR Summer 2021: Week 1

Sirarpi Muradian

Monday, June 14, 2021: First Day of our Internship Program

Our very first daily meeting with all of the interns and staff members took place on June 13, 2021. The interns all introduced themselves and their backgrounds. Although we come from different places, we all care deeply about Armenian issues and are passionate about furthering the Armenian Cause in America. Meeting fellow interns who were just as passionate about helping Armenia as I am was a wonderful experience. This group of talented interns will no doubt go on to accomplish great things for the Armenian community. We were delighted to meet the accomplished staff of the ANCA, and their advice and introductions excited us greatly for the weeks to come.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021: An Insightful Lecture from Aram Hamparian

Executive Director Aram Hamparian joined us today for a presentation. The meeting started with brief introductions, in which the interns introduced themselves to Mr. Hamparian. I was very excited to meet Mr. Hamparian and looked forward to hearing his presentation. He outlined many important topics in his lecture. He explained that Armenians migrated to the US in sizeable numbers starting in the 1890s, and with the rising prominence of Armenian communities in America formed the Armenian National Committee. The crimes committed by the Ottoman Empire marked the emergence of the ANCA as a humanitarian group, which raised money for various institutions, such as orphanages and care centers.

Mr. Hamparian’s explanation of the three phases of Armenian influence in America (which are compassion, polarization within the communities, and protests) was particularly interesting to me. These three phases ultimately developed the Armenian diaspora in America and helped us leverage our people, education, social networks, and devotion to influence policy in Washington, D.C. Mr. Hamparian went on to explain the three filters that Armenians must consider during their advocacy to non-Armenians: whether they would care, whether they could help, and whether they believe their actions will truly make a difference in the Armenian community. This was insightful and thought-provoking, as it started a discussion amongst the interns and Mr. Hamparian about how we can truly make a difference in our communities. Through our discussion, we emphasized the importance of becoming the news reporters, policymakers, advisors, and politicians that shape public policy in order to truly make a difference in America.

Text Box: The ANCA-WR Summer 2021 Interns with Executive Director Aram Hamparian and Community Outreach Director Verginie Touloumian

Wednesday, June 16, 2021: Learning about the Different Programs at the ANCA-WR

Communications Director Alex Galitsky, Executive Director Armen Sahakyan, and Karabian Fellow Araksya Nordikyan presented their projects to the interns, who were met with two passion-driven projects during this meeting on June 16th. Mr. Galitsky’s Impact Media Institute works to combat the normalization of genocide denial. The institutionalization of genocide denial has resulted in ongoing genocidal crimes in modern times, and the Impact Media Institute has made it their goal to encourage mainstream media to report on these events. Interns will be tasked with directed research and statistical analysis to determine peoples and ethnic groups who are most at risk of genocidal violence as well as governments most likely to carry them out.

Mr. Sahakyan and Ms. Nordikyan presented the Duty to Prevent project, which focuses on preventing acts of Armenophobia against Armenians and Armenian institutions around the world. The Duty to Prevent project aims to offer resources to victims of Armenophobia, encourage victims to report these acts of Armenophobia, and find allies in other similarly impacted communities. Interns will be tasked with developing a comprehensive timeline for Armenophobia, conducting a global survey to collect incidences of Armenophobia, and various other tasks related to the education of the Armenian community with regards to their legal rights and liberties.

During discussions with Mr. Galitsky, Mr. Sahakian, and Ms. Nordikyan, interns were informed that their work would not only be published, but it would help both the Impact Media Institute and the Duty to Prevent project grow in size and in influence. Through these projects, we are given an opportunity to truly make an impact in our community.

Thursday, June 17, 2021: Getting to know the ANCA-WR Team and Projects

The meeting began with a presentation from Ruben Karapetian and Edward Barsoumian, the Government Affairs Coordinators. Their goal is to execute legislative strategies in public offices. Their work includes policy research, forming relations with elected officials, and tracking elections and legislators who could potentially act as allies to the Armenian community. I was very excited to hear more about this program because I am particularly interested in public policy and plan to pursue a career in legislation in the future. My fellow interns were also interested in this program because of the hands-on experience they would gain from it. This program may provide an opportunity for interns to meet with legislators face-to-face and plan such events. Current projects include the AB-1019 Divestment from Turkey Bill, California Redistricting, and the August Recess.

Community Outreach Director, Verginie Touloumian, presented the work that community outreach interns will conduct, which focuses on educating the public about Armenian issues. Interns would be tasked with crafting educational lesson plans and fact sheets that can be used in classrooms around America. This is a valuable program, as it helps incorporate Armenian history into the American education system. Community outreach interns will also populate the website with resources and recommendations for Armenian and non-Armenian viewers.

Friday, June 18, 2021: First in-person Meeting at Verdugo Park

The interns met for the first time in person at Verdugo Park today, and we formed instant connections. We enjoyed getting to know each other and forming bonds over food and drinks in the beautiful weather, and we look forward to working with each other soon. We enjoyed having conversations with staff members about politics, music, and experiences. We also shared our own experiences in universities and our hope in the future. It was interesting that all of our interns had the same goal: to reach a position in their lives where they are most capable of furthering the Armenian Cause.

Before we knew it, the topic shifted from school life and career goals to personal life and casual conversations. We were planning even more summer hangouts with each other, including movie nights, trips to Disneyworld, and even an overnight stay in Big Bear, California. We played a game of Jeopardy, which I feel brought us closer together, as we worked together in teams. After working in teams to play the game, we are even more excited to begin working on projects together. I feel that I have made lifelong friends and although I have only known the other interns for a short period of time, I think that we will each go on to accomplish great things.