SACRAMENTO, CA – The 7th and 8th grade students of the Armenian Community School of Fresno experienced first hand what it is like to advance Armenian advocacy issues when they visited Sacramento in early April. The school took part in the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region’s newly launched ANC: Youth in Government Sacramento Tour program that exposes young Armenian-American students to government organizations and the legislative process. The goal of the program is to provide young students with a better understanding of the political process and how it impacts concerns of the Armenian-American community.
During the students’ ANC: Youth in Government Sacramento Tour, ANCA-WR Director of Government Relations Ardashes Kassakhian gave them an overview of the issues that the Armenian National Committee works to advance in California and on the National level – such as Genocide education, aid to Armenia and Karabagh and increased trade between California and Armenia. Kassakhian explained the importance of political activism and how participation in the political process is vital to the growth and prosperity of democracy in America.
“It has been the ANCA’s philosophy that exposing our youth to government organizations and the legislative process early on is a very positive tool,” said Kassakhian. “The ANCA believes such experiences help build the foundation for well informed and well rounded community leaders and activists who will serve our respective community’s for decades to come,” he added.
While in Sacramento, the Fresno students received a special historical tour of the State Capitol and visited Old Town Sacramento. They received tours of the State Assembly chambers and Senate Chambers and met with Assemblymembers Sarah Reyes (Fresno), Carol Liu (Pasadena) and Senator Chuck Poochigian (Fresno). The students also met with Sasha Boghossian, an Assembly Fellow in the State Capitol offices of Assemblymember Joe Canciamilla (Contra Costa). Boghossian told the group of the importance of working towards bettering the Armenian community through political involvement and activism.
The Fresno students were also able to attend the Assembly Committee on Education’s hearing on AB 2003, the Koretz-Wyland Genocide and Holocaust Education Bill. At the hearing the students learned, firsthand, how a bill is considered and modified by a committee, before it is forwarded to the Governor.
“The kids loved the trip, it was a real highlight. They had a wonderful time and were really impressed with visiting the offices, the Senate and Assembly and sitting in on the hearing,” said Andrea McDonald, who helped organize the trip and is a teacher at Armenian Community School of Fresno. “We want to do it again next year. There is only so much that we can talk to them about in the classroom, seeing it in person makes an impression.”
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.