ANCA-WR Summer Internship Week 7

BY: Katrina Akbarian

UCLA, Philosophy

We began week 7 of the ANCA-WR summer internship program by welcoming Paul Krekorian, Los Angeles City Council Member to our Monday meeting. Krekorian began by explaining his background. Prior to running for LA City Council, Mr. Krekorian was a practicing attorney for 20 years. In his first campaign in 2000, he gained immense support from the Armenian community; many young Armenians would go door to door informing and encouraging the Armenian community to vote, something they were unfamiliar with. Although he was not elected, the community started becoming active and engaging in issues. This ultimately led to his election to the Burbank Board of Education in 2003; and after several years, Mr. Krekorian was elected as a member of the LA City Council. The city council member then went to emphasize the importance of advocacy and action. He stated that it is important “for all of us to not just be spectators but participants of the government”.  Fellow intern Martin Makaryan, asked about the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles and what measures the city is taking to address it. Councilmember Krekorian responded by identifying homelessness as a multi-layered humanitarian issue. He went to provide the interns with some positive news that the City of Los Angeles is opening up 400 units of permanent housing in the next two weeks for those in need of shelter. 

On Tuesday, the interns took a break from lectures and instead worked on raising awareness about the recent ceasefire violation and aggression by Azerbaijan along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. 

The following day, our intern class spoke to UCLA alumni and current JD candidate, Razmig Sarkissian, who explained the “Divest Turkey” movement launched by the Armenian Youth Federation. Mr. Sarkissian discussed how this movement was inspired by the successful Anti-Apartheid movement that persisted throughout the twentieth century. He highlighted how the Armenian students in their ASAs worked with AYF to do independent research and began lobbying the USAC (Undergraduate Student Association Council) of UCs, CSUs, and Community Colleges. He concluded his presentation by highlighting that after five years of advocacy, Governor Newsom signed the divestment bill into law last year, highlighting how the student movement reached Sacramento Capitol. 

On Thursday, our intern class had the pleasure to meet Anna Mouradian, Chief Deputy for the LA County’s 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger. Mrs. Mouradian introduced herself and discussed her passion for helping others. Although she was not active in the Armenian community as a young adult, she has made it a personal goal of hers to immerse herself in all Armenian organizations. She explained how her position is a “24 hour job; and that helping others is not contingent on a 9-5 schedule”. After explaining in depth the ins and outs of her position, I asked her,  “What advice do you have for us young advocates planning on entering the public sector or legal field”? Mrs. Mouradian advised us to be enthusiastic in everything we do and always go the extra mile. She went on to say that it is important to be open-minded and able to have difficult conversations with people we may not agree with. Her last message was the following: “no matter what your aspirations are, do it with integrity and character”. 

On Friday, the interns spent the time debriefing about the different community activities, the rise in Armenophobic incidents, and the hate crime that was committed on the KZV Armenian School. The interns gave an update on their projects and how it is important to continue advocating for issues on social media. —