By: Zara Hovasapyan
UCLA’s Armenian Students’ Association hosted a genocide panel on April 23rd and invited dignitaries to speak on the subject. The panel included a humanities professor, a priest of the Armenian Apostolic Church and a lobbyist. I first heard about the ANCA WR internship when William Bairamian, the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America—Western Region, spoke at the Genocide Panel. His speech was preceded by Professor Von Blum’s account of his father’s escaping the Holocaust and Father Vazgen’s trip to post-genocide Rwanda. After hearing about the impact of the Holocaust on Professor Von Blum’s family and the revitalization of Rwanda, William’s oration stood out as the only politically driven speech about how Armenians in the Diaspora participate in advocating for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and other issues germane to Armenians around the world.
I was sincerely moved by Professor Von Blum’s family history and Father Vazgen’s trip to Rwanda, but William’s emphasis on the current state of Armenian American politics and Turkey’s response to Armenian claims was most captivating to me. I had always wanted to participate in the Armenian community and applying to the ANCA WR internship seemed like a great start for me.
Since applying to the internship, I have had three experiences to reflect on: the interview, the orientation and the first day at the office as an intern but for this blog, I’ll share what struck me at the interview. Despite my uncertainty and inevitable doubts about my answers following the interview, I was selected as an executive intern for the summer. During the interview I learned that the ANCA has a full time staff of seven selfless Armenians who have dedicated their lives to the organization and to Hye Daht. It is so impressive that seven individuals have influenced so many politicians and legislation and continue to lobby for the Armenian cause. Initially, when William asked me how many people work for the ANCA, my answer was “in the hundreds.” “A little less than that,” was his response. I could not fathom that so few people in such a big government can accomplish so much. This revelation made me reevaluate my own involvement in the Armenian community. I had always been a member of Armenian club in high school and the ASA at UCLA but, outside of academia, I had not partaken in many events organized by the different Armenian organizations. I had always held the ANCA in a high esteem but after learning about the people behind Armenian-American politics, my respect for the organization reached a peak. Having been admitted as an intern, I am most truthfully thrilled to start working for and helping the ANCA.