The New Kid on the Block: Reflections from the 2009 ANCA Endowment Fund Telethon

Saro Haroon and Dr. Alina Dorian. Photo credit: Nora Yacoubian.

Saro Haroon and Dr. Alina Dorian. Photo by: Nora Yacoubian.

 

GLENDALE–It’s always a pleasure to find myself amongst individuals who share and work towards accomplishing a common goal. And it’s always an honor to be surrounded by people who work diligently for countless hours and to see their unwavering determination to a single purpose.

I experienced that dedication firsthand when I served as one of the hosts for the ANCA Endowment Fund Telethon on May 31. Although, I did not have much of a primary role in the telethon, my experiences and the ties I made undoubtedly overshadow what I may have imparted to the public eye. I will never forget the experiences gained or lessons learned during those six hours.

I remember the telethon, and all that led up to my participation in it, as if it were yesterday. I received a call about three weeks prior to the event asking if I would be interested in carrying out host responsibilities. Assuredly, I responded with a “Yes.”

A day before the telethon, Saturday, I stepped into Horizon studios not knowing what to expect. Here I was, a twenty-year old among a group of well established and respected individuals. A young Armenian-American who has yet to receive his Bachelor’s degree, I was given an opportunity to work alongside men and women who have various academic achievements and career milestones behind them.

I felt like “the New Kid on the Block.” The other ten hosts had previous experience and were all experts in their respective fields. At first, I felt unsuited to be where I was. But that feeling quickly diminished once I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Paul, Alina, Roxanne, Aram, Ari, Steve, Anahid, Silva, Karine, and Manoug.

Remarkable characters, all of them. They befriended me from get go and began to go through the “run-down” of the program with me, up until when we parted ways Sunday night.

During the telethon I repeatedly said that I love to see people come together to struggle; to work long hours toward a common goal, through thick and thin, good times and bad; to declare a common victory and triumph.

May 31 stood as evidence of our success and validated that we have a promising future. And that future is firmly rooted in our past battles, which have led to our current state and the inevitable struggles that await us all.

Ultimately, those battles are going to be spearheaded by today’s youth, and that is why it is so much more imperative that we, the youth, find our place within our community and the greater American society. It’s our duty to go where our parents could not, to utilize resources they could only dream of for our collective advantage.

At a time where the economy is dwindling and our pockets may seem a bit light, it is becoming ever more vital to explore and create new opportunities to continue to strengthen our community. I am proud to say that even after the event concluded, to this day, humble donors continue making donations to aid the programs and efforts the Endowment Fund is going to implement.

Moreover, it is even more astonishing to realize that we play a direct role in establishing the groundwork for future generations. We, the youth, must stand up and work together, as a team, toward shared goals and dreams.

We must inspire our community to see that assimilation is not inevitable, that our heritage will not be forgotten. My generation’s responsibility is to come up with new ways to cultivate and impart a sense of connection to our identity and homeland. And that begins with a well rounded understanding of our history as well as with being able to speak, read, and write Armenian.

Look to the youth to shape a new found spirit they are a force that is willing to work and achieve new heights. As my dear friend Manoug said to me a few days ago, “We have to be like bacteria in a sense. We must rub off one another and spread our knowledge and abilities just like an epidemic virus. Imagine how strong we will become then.”

Passion empowers, and the youth is full of it. But it is the support of our community, our friends, and family, that reinvigorates and gives new life to our unceasing yet accustomed endeavors. The passion of each and every one of us, whether it is the hosts, stage directors, producers, camera guys, volunteers, donors, community and the list goes on, revealed that we are one with the cause and that we will do what is necessary to further our cause. Our passion to prepare the young and trust them to carry on the torch is the key. Our passion equates our success.

The telethon was an unbelievable experience. The “New Kid” may have grown up just a bit more that day. On that day, I connected, for the first time, with my people and let them know how I truly feel. On that day, I was given an opportunity to inspire others, the way I was inspired.

The most inspiring moment of all, however, was when I learned that some 2400 people donated to the telethon. That’s nearly double the number that donated at the last telethon in 2006. I believe we are doing something right.

 

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