Activism Grows Through Volunteering, Internships, and Hands On Network-Disney Partnership

GLENDALE—With the summer months upon us, the Armenian National Committee-Western Region will be welcoming its 11th class of students and community activists into its Internship-Externship Program.  It also continues to welcome volunteers to its offices to assist with projects and activities ranging from civic engagement efforts to educational programs.  Earlier this year, it partnered with HandsOn Network’s and Disney’s joint “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program.

Since June, 2006, the ANC-WR’s Internship-Externship Program (IEP) has graduated over 40 participants.  The program has included high school, college, and graduate students as well as post-graduate student activists. Many of the program’s participants started as volunteers.

“Volunteering was a lot of fun and a great way for me to get to know the organization better and really opened my eyes to the broad range of issues that the ANC tackles,” notes Carina Khanjian, a sophomore at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  Khanjian was part of the IEP’s Class of Spring 2008 while a student at Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School in Little Armenia, Hollywood.

“We are covering things in my political science classes that I had learned about through my internship.  Some of my classmates did not get that exposure or experience before taking their courses,” adds Khanjian.

Another Hollywood resident, Astkhik Hakopyan, has volunteered with the ANC-WR office over the past year.  The graduating senior at John Marshall High School and soon to be freshman at the University of California, Santa Barbara first learned about the organization from ANC Hollywood activists tabling at the annual, first Republic, Armenian Independence Day festival in Little Armenia in May 2009.

“Volunteering with the ANC provided me with the opportunity to meet new, motivated people from different fields and backgrounds.  I have also gotten to know students just like me in the community, who felt the need to give back,” says Hakopyan.  Her volunteer hours helped her fulfill her school’s community service hour requirements.

Since volunteering with the ANC-WR, Hakopyan has gone on to volunteer with her local ANC in Hollywood joining past interns like Khanjian and recent Class of Spring 2010 IEP graduate Tereza Yerimyan and Class of Summer 2009 graduate Srbui Karapetian, who are also both students at UCLA.  Like Khanjian, Yerimyan, and Karapetian, she hopes to continue to volunteer with the ANC as a student at UCSB.

Raffi Kassabian, a practicing attorney in Los Angeles, is a volunteer activist with the regional office currently leading the organization’s State and Regional Affairs educational efforts.  He is also a member of the Armenian National Committee-Professional Network’s executive committee.

Kassabian first got involved in the ANC as a volunteer and intern through the ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship program in Washington, DC while a college student.  This past December, he helped connect the ANC-WR with the HandsOn Network for the Disney community service initiative.

Between January and March of 2010 over a dozen individuals volunteered with the ANC-WR through the Disney program.  Volunteers ranged from young students to parents and professionals and included both Armenians and non-Armenians.  Volunteers helped with ANC-WR voter outreach and education efforts as well as 2010 US Census awareness initiatives.

“The ANC has always been a place where young members of our community can come to learn more about important issues facing the Armenian American community and make a positive difference on these issues,” notes Kassabian.

The western region office, located in Glendale, California continues to reach out to and welcomes new volunteers.  Individuals interested in volunteering or any of the ANC’s various internships should contact program director and volunteer coordinator, Haig Hovsepian at (818) 500-1918.

The Armenian National Committee-Western Region is the largest Armenian American grassroots community organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANC-WR works to promote understanding regarding issues of concern to the Armenian American community.


Photo Caption:
Interns and Volunteers with CA State Controller John Chiang in 2009 at a small business seminar organized by ANC-WR IEP intern, Srbui Karapetian. Karapetian was assisted by several volunteers and former interns to make the event a success.

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