BY: Ruben Karapetian
University of California, Berkeley: Political Science – Comparative Politics
Our final week of the ANCA WR Internship began with a long awaited presentation by the WR’s own Communications Director, Alex Galitsky. Galitsky’s presentation described to the interns the multifaceted aspects of the ANCA’s communications strategy and how the aspects are integrated into one another. Communication operations of the ANCA occur through multiple channels, whether it be traditional media, new media, social media and other mediums, it is vital that the messaging is targeted, coherent and consistent across the board. Galitsky also emphasized the importance of “message craft” which is at times a process more complicated because it requires an analytical approach to determining what messaging will resonate with our audience. The interns asked questions regarding various scenarios to approaching certain issues and their responses. The intern’s questions also had a focus on social media and how to use those platforms as a tool to broadcast, educate and share information regarding Armenian issues.
On Tuesday the interns were joined by Ruben Janbazian, Editor at the h-pem.com. h-pem is a new youth focused online platform that is an initiative of the Hamazkayin, an Armenian Educational and Cultural Society organization that aims to highlight Armenian arts and culture. Janbazian led the discussion by walking the interns through the site and its growing content library. Content on h-pem ranges from artwork, music, literature, cultural commentary and much more. During the subsequent Q&A portion of the discussion Janbazian was curious to know what the interns (apart of the target audience of h-pem) would’ve like to see from the h-pem platform. The interns mainly focused on how new media could play a role in h-pem’s platform. As a fan of arts and culture myself, a platform like h-pem which aims to enlighten youth on Armenian arts and culture is something that I am definitely grateful for and will continue to follow.
Wednesday, the interns were apart of a debate simulation led by the WR’s Government Affairs Director, Arsen Shirvanyan. The interns were divided into groups who would debate topics ad hoc in the hopes of convincing the rest of the audience of one side or another. Topics of debate included hypothetical questions like which Presidential Candidate is best for the Armenian Community, what political groups should the ANCA seek to build relationships with, and lastly a debate on the implications of the 2009 Protocols between Armenia and Turkey. These exercises were meant to help the interns learn and hone in skills like decisive decision making and argumentation. After the debates were finished Shirvanyan gave the interns a chance to review and ask questions about their debate performance, laying out the “Dos and don’ts” of debating.
On Thursday, the students were greeted by The Hon. Judge Zaven Sinanian. Many of the interns are interested in pursuing a career in Law, so having a lawyer and Judge share his experiences was very insightful. Judge Sinanian, is currently a Superior Court Judge for Los Angeles and a pro tem Judge for the California Court of Appeals. Born in Cyprus and leaving at the age of 14 during the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus, Sinanian and his family settled in Illinois where he would go on to study law. Judge Sinanian described how he became a judge. During the 80s, Governor George Deukmejian of California had appointed quite a few Armenian judges to CA’s judicial system. By the late 90s and early 00s many of these judges were retiring. Judge Sinanian was approached and asked to consider applying to the state of CA to be appointed as a judge. He described the process of applying to the state and was appointed as Judge by Governor Gray Davis in 2002. The interns had plenty of questions regarding his profession and what it is like being a judge.
On the final day of the internship, the interns convened for our final weekly round-up. We were asked by the staff to share our thoughts and impressions of the week’s presenters. Following that, the staff asked the interns to share their thoughts, comments and suggestions about the internship as a whole. Everyone got a chance to share their favorite moments, presenters and also make suggestions on how to structure the upcoming fall internship class. A quick game of trivia was the last thing the interns participated in before saying their good byes to one another and the staff.
I can say with full confidence that I have made lifelong friends and connections through the ANCA WR Internship. I will continue to help in whatever way possible in advancing the Armenian cause. I look forward to applying the skills and know-how I gained during this internship in my future endeavors. I will be forever indebted to the ANCA and its staff for helping me grow as an active member of our community and preparing me for the future ahead. I’m certain the rest of the internship class shares the same sentiment. Thank you ANCA WR for this invaluable opportunity.