The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region announced that 14 young Armenian-Americans have graduated from the ANCA-WR Internship Program. The interns successfully completed the 11-week program, where they honed their leadership skills, got firsthand experience with the inner workings of the government, and engaged in issues facing the Armenian-American community.
“The ANCA-WR was fortunate, once again, to have such a dynamic group of interns from top universities devoting their time to advance our collective cause” remarked ANCA-WR Director of Community Outreach, Verginie Touloumian. “Although, our interns are graduating from the internship program, we are certain that they will stay life-long advocates of the Armenian Cause and use their skills and experience to impact our community,” she continued.
The interns participated in weekly lectures and professional development workshops featuring guest lecturers, including public officials and Armenian-American community leaders. The interns also worked in different teams to conduct research on Armenophobia, genocide prevention, and genocide education, created a community wide survey, developed resources for educators on the Armenian Genocide, Artsakh, and Armenian Heritage, and compiled information on genocide education policies across the nation. Two interns also worked with the ANCA-Professional Network on a number of events to raise funds for Artsakh programs.
The ANCA-WR will soon welcome its Summer 2021 Interns.
Below are personal reflections of some of the interns from the program:
Following the tumultuous events of previous fall, many of us interns were rightfully disillusioned with the international political systems that failed to prevent the aggressive attacks on indigenous Armenians in Artsakh. After months of trending online campaigns, writing to policymakers ceaselessly, and millions of dollars in donations, receiving such empty neutral statements from the political figures we turned to would have been enough to make any diasporan group give up. Yet, the ANCA embodies a resilience unlike any other. In an effort that mirrors William Saroyan’s infamous sentiment about the inability to destroy Armenia, this group kept pushing, kept fighting for recognition, and eventually succeeded in their efforts to cement the long-overdue U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The work they do here, though may go unrewarded at times, is the essence of the Armenian spirit and cultural preservation.
When I first met with the directors of the ANCA-WR’s internship program, I asked them, “What advice would you give to an Armenian student aspiring to contribute to the Armenian Cause.” The answer, “All big changes come with small steps behind the scenes,” has stayed with me throughout the program and will continue to stay with me in my future endeavors. Looking back now, I see the grave importance of those small steps behind the scenes, as I was the one taking them. I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked with an amazing and influential staff and other students who share a passion for advancing the Armenian cause as I do.
This internship has granted me the opportunities to bolster essential research and networking skills that will be instrumental in my future academic and professional endeavors. As a non-Armenian (odar), the most valuable part of my internship experience has been learning about the Armenian Cause and becoming an ally. This newly established responsibility is one I hold to be a lifelong commitment. The research and networking skills gained through the ANCA-WR internship are not merely tools for my own success, but tools I hope to elevate the Armenian cause. I am incredibly grateful for this experience and would encourage any student to pursue this. Thank you to the staff and my fellow peers for this opportunity.
Throughout this internship, I was able to combine my passions for policy, education, and Hye Tahd by advocating for Armenian Genocide education nationwide. I believe that education is the most powerful weapon to change the world and make a lasting impact over generations. I feel so empowered and ecstatic to know that I had a role, working with my supervisors, in successfully passing AB231 in Nevada, which requires genocide education and specifically mentions the Armenian Genocide — encouraging educators to teach about the Armenian Genocide to prevent future genocides. Advocacy is a slow process, but with ANCA’s passion and perseverance, we will continue to educate future active citizens, advocate and advance the work of Hye Tahd, and constantly inspire and instill hope in Armenians all around the world.
My internship with ANCA-WR was one of the greatest experiences I have had. During my interview, I was asked why I wanted to do this internship. I said that I wanted to be able to work on a team of other advocates who are fighting for the same cause as me. I was not only able to work on a team, but I joined a family. Through doing intense research, being able to have a community during the recent war, and by meeting amazing mentors, peers and guest speakers, I have truly gained the most valuable experience I could have had. I needed this experience to help me feel equipped to follow my dreams of the kind of work I want to do for my Armenian people, because ANCA cares about my dreams just as much as I care about mine. I can confidently say that I am now a lifetime member of the ANCA family and a lifelong advocate of the Armenian Cause.
I was so grateful for this incredible opportunity that ANCA-WR gave me. I had a chance to work with a group of amazing interns and hear from so many community members. I worked on developing resources for educators with the information from the Near East Relief and I was able to learn about the significant philanthropy that Americans showcased towards the Armenians in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide.
Throughout this internship I have been able to do a lot of things that I am extremely proud of. Being able to help my motherland in a time of need no matter how big or small, will always be something that I can look back on with a lot of pride. I have learned a lot through this internship and all of these things will continue to stay with me throughout my life. I’ve learned about everything that the ANCA does and the work that gets put in daily to achieve these goals. I hope to always be a part of the ANCA in one way or another to continue on with the work we have done up until now.
Most importantly, I have learned that no matter what field a student chooses, there is always the opportunity to prosper, teach and advocate those around you and the upcoming generations about the Armenian community and culture. I had an amazing time being part of the ANCA-Professional Network group. Together, we were able to organize events to support different humanitarian programs in Artsakh.
I had an inspiring experience with my internship class and the ANCA-WR staff. I received a handful of new and valuable information with all the guest speakers coming and sharing their expertise and insights relevant to my major, political science. I am grateful for the opportunity to assist the Armenian community by contributing to the Armenian Cause as an ANCA-WR intern.
Advocating for the Armenian cause has always been a priority for me and the ANCA internship program gave me the perfect opportunity for it. This internship not only helped me to acquire more knowledge on different cultural and political issues in relation to Armenia and the US thanks to our weekly guest lecturers, but it also gave me the opportunity to gain some hands-on experience through my research on Armenophobia and anti-Armenian sentiments. What made this internship so great for me was the fact that I was surrounded by peers who were equally passionate about the Armenian Cause that I could learn so much from and a lot of great team leaders who guided us through this journey. I plan on using the skills I have acquired towards future endeavors in my professional career and as a community activist.
Established in summer 2006, the ANCA Western Region Internship Program is a selective part-time leadership program, which introduces college students and recent college graduates to all aspects of the public affairs arena. The program provides an opportunity for student leaders and activists to gain an in-depth understanding of the American political system, Armenian-American issues and advocacy efforts on the local, state and federal levels. Summer session of the program will begin in June of 2021; interested students can find more information on the program’s website.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots advocacy 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 ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.