The Summer of ‘17

The passionate and playful ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship and Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program team of 2017 during one of their many trips to Capitol Hill.  From l to r: Hasmik Krikorian, Taleen Simonian, Sevana Dombalagian, Mari Tikoyan, Marie Papazian, Shant Eulmessekian, Hagop Housbian, Stephen Boursalian, Gregor Bayburtian, Harout Manougian, Shushan Gabrielyan, Monique Bolsajian and Leonardo Torosian.  Missing from the photo: Garen Kosoyan, Anna Avannesyan, and Noor Varjabedian.
The passionate and playful ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship and Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program team of 2017 during one of their many trips to Capitol Hill.  From l to r: Hasmik Krikorian, Taleen Simonian, Sevana Dombalagian, Mari Tikoyan, Marie Papazian, Shant Eulmessekian, Hagop Housbian, Stephen Boursalian, Gregor Bayburtian, Harout Manougian, Shushan Gabrielyan, Monique Bolsajian and Leonardo Torosian.  Missing from the photo: Garen Kosoyan, Anna Avannesyan, and Noor Varjabedian.

The passionate and playful ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship and Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program team of 2017 during one of their many trips to Capitol Hill. From l to r: Hasmik Krikorian, Taleen Simonian, Sevana Dombalagian, Mari Tikoyan, Marie Papazian, Shant Eulmessekian, Hagop Housbian, Stephen Boursalian, Gregor Bayburtian, Harout Manougian, Shushan Gabrielyan, Monique Bolsajian and Leonardo Torosian. Missing from the photo: Garen Kosoyan, Anna Avannesyan, and Noor Varjabedian.

BY SHANT EULMESSEKIAN
ANCA Leo Sarkisian Intern – 2017
Glendale Community College

I apologize in advance if what you are about to read is too sentimental or dramatic, but as I sit in the ANCA’s Aramian House on the final day of my internship, with my plane leaving a few hours from this point, I cannot help but feel emotional as I reflect over the past eight weeks. Since I hope to be a good writer, I must commit to my emotions and transcribe them, and since I hope that you are a good reader, you have begun reading and you must commit as well.

There is a personal truth that I have noticed. It is when I am called to reflect and remember joyous times in my life, I do so with utmost difficulty. There can be many explanations for this. I say that I am so enveloped in experiencing and enjoying the moment that remembering the moment itself becomes a low priority. Others argue that my brain resembles that of a goldfish. You choose the explanation you prefer, but I will try my best to collect and condense my memories into 650 words or more.

When you lean back in your seat, or whatever contraption that is keeping you from falling, whether it may be your legs or a pleasant yellow kayak floating on the Potomac, I hope that you forgive me for my “excessive” language, and understand what a journey this has been.

It began as I landed in Baltimore, Maryland and stepped out of the baggage terminal into the hot and humid air. The sensation of being wrapped in a warm, wet blanket is not a pleasant one, and this was reflected by the water dripping off the radiators of the various taxis and cars that made up the pickup strip I was waiting on. Promptly, Ms. Elizabeth Chouldjian — I was later told that she preferred either “Yeghisapet” or “Yeghso;” I chose the latter — picked me up from the coziness of my warm and wet blanket, and we proceeded on our two-hour drive to the office. I was introduced to my fellow interns as well as the rest of the staff, and so my story had begun.

You get an interesting variety of outcomes when you force together a collection of determined, intelligent, and headstrong Armenians, especially if they all come from different backgrounds. A possible, and most probable occurrence, is hell breaking loose, unfettered words flying in and out of ears, and division. A less likely, and infinitely more meaningful experience, is what happened during the summer of 2017 with the ANCA Leo Sarkisian interns.

The family began with polite and timid people, with hushed “hello”s and “where are you from”s and “what is your major”s. Those common phrases possess, somehow simultaneously, absolutely no meaning and absolute necessity. It was from those words that we grew.

We began eating together, discussing and comparing food. We bought gym memberships and tried to exercise consistently — “tried” being a key word, as our $90 was wasted on napping and untouched protein dust. It is generally called “protein powder,” but when it sits on a fridge for a week straight it does not deserve the dignity of that name.

We toured around the beautiful city of Washington DC, visiting the Smithsonian museums and the White House; but, I will have difficulty describing it as my vocabulary lacks — please visit Leonardo Torossian’s article to get a thorough review. We spent Fourth of July in front of the Capitol, patriotically listening to the Star Wars theme song and watching the fireworks color the black sky. We spent nights lying in our beds with our eyes closed but our minds open, pondering with our fellow roommates about life’s various mysteries. We spent mornings waking up late and dressing as quickly as possible, wondering if it was perhaps better to continue our thoughtful discussion on the “automation of our society” in our dreams. We spent the days speaking to Members of Congress or Representatives of Artsakh and Armenia, while simultaneously working on personal projects to further Hai Tahd, to assist people in the Homeland, and reduce the injustice in our world. We spent evenings curled up on the couch together watching films, or under dimmed lights playing Durak — fantastic game by the way, I recommend you learn it. We spent dinners passing ribs and macaroni and cheese back and forth, toasting to our future and our new family. We spent our energy rowing yellow, double kayaks through the unnaturally green Potomac river, screaming “Shant! Please sit down!”

It really has been a story and, as with any great story, there were moments of laughter and tears, joy and sorrow, stress and accomplishment, and there was, of course, the occasional romance. To remain dignified, I will speak for myself when I say that these emotions came together and shook me to the very core of my being. I am relatively young, and this has been quite an interesting life for me so far. I have reached a point where I am confused and lost, happily of course, and trying to find myself in this great big mess of a world. It is without hesitation that I say this has been a moment of clarity, the greatest summer of my life.

I hope that you, dear reader, are currently leaning back in your seat, or whatever contraption that is keeping you from falling, and reflecting on your “greatest summer.” I hope it is filled with determined, intelligent, and headstrong Armenians. I hope it is filled with laughter and tears, expired gym memberships, and a pleasant yellow double kayak.

If it is not, the ANCA Leo Sarkisian intern family welcomes you with open arms.

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