WASHINGTON—From grassroots calls in support of Armenian American foreign aid priorities, to meetings with Armenian diplomats and a night at the ball park with Members of Congress, the Armenian National Committee of America Leo Sarkisian interns hit the ground running in this, the 26th year of the program.
“For over a quarter century, the Leo Sarkisian Internship program has served as an Armenian American advocacy boot camp – training the next generation of activists to effectively promote our collective Cause,” said ANCA Legislative Affairs Director Raffi Karakashian. “After their eight weeks here in the nation’s capital, they’ll return to their home towns energized to work with fellow community members to take grassroots activism to the next level.”
Each of the interns participated in an intensive application process in their respective ANCA regions and looked forward to this hands-on educational experience, dreaming of coming out from their local communities and making a difference on a national scale. The year’s intern class consists of university students from coast-to-coast and Canada, including: Anoush Abramian, Gassia Assadourian, Satenik Harutyunyan and Manuel Magpapian.
All are active members of Armenian American community life – from the Armenian Youth Federation, to the Armenian Student Association (ASA), and of course their local ANCA chapters.
Within days of arrival, the intern team began work in preparation for the House Appropriations Subcommittee mark-up of the 2011 foreign aid bill – making hundreds of phone calls to local activists urging them to contact their Representatives in support of key Armenian American funding priorities. Not to miss an opportunity to bring up community concerns while supporting a good cause, the interns attended the 49th annual Congressional baseball game, where they had an opportunity to speak with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-CA), House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN), House Democratic Caucus Co-Chair John Larson (D-CT), Appropriations Committee member Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), fellow New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt, Santa Barbara Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA), Rhode Island Representative Jim Langevin (D) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Member Ron Klein (D-FL).
Between politics and baseball, the Leo Sarkisian interns also began their summer lecture series, discussing the challenges facing Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh with Armenian Ambassador to the U.S., His Excellency Tatoul Markarian and Nagorno Karabagh Representative to the U.S. Robert Avetisyan. Each spent hours outlining key foreign policy concerns and answering questions about the opportunities and challenges facing the Armenian diplomatic community.
ANCA Leo Sarkisian Interns Speak out on the Program and Why They Chose It
The 2010 ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship group come from diverse geographic backgrounds – with a common purpose – to advance the Armenian Cause.
Toronto ARF Youth Organization of Canada (ARFYOC) member Anoush Abramian is finishing up her Masters in Public Policy from McMaster University. “As a political science graduate from Canada and someone who is very much interested in Armenian Cause and politics, the Leo Sarkisian internship is a great opportunity to experience American politics first hand, and compare it with our system in Canada, especially in terms of Armenian concerns,” explained Abramian. “Whatever the differences, however, the goals stays the same wherever you are.”
Third year political science and economics major Gassia Assadourian from Rutgers University noted, that “after having moved to the United States from Egypt just three years ago, I was eager to experience and learn about Armenian-American political grassroots activism first hand. The Leo Sarkisian Internship has already proven itself to be the perfect opportunity for not only gaining this experience, but also for honing skills and developing new ones – and we’re only into the second week.”
University of California, San Diego Armenian Students Association Executive Board Member, local ANC activist, and Homenetmen alumni Satenik Harutyunyan is a third year political science major. “In many ways, this internship epitomizes the skill set I will need as an individual aspiring to advance pressing issues of urgency for Armenia and its Diaspora. And what better place to gain this skill set than in the heartland of the political world surrounded by incredible people and a beautiful city?” noted Harutyunyan.
Recent University of California, Santa Barbara graduate in political science, Manuel Magpapian, has served as an All-ASA member, working to organize and recruit ASA members to promote Armenian American community concerns. “I chose to apply to the Leo Sarkisian Internship in Washington D.C. mainly because of its astounding reputation among its alumni,” explained Magpapian. “I was born and raised in Los Angeles, so this was also a great opportunity to explore the East Coast. I’ve enjoyed my stay in the nation’s capital so much so that I’ve promised myself I will return to this city – this time for good.”
The Leo Sarkisian Internship Program is an integral part of a growing effort to provide Armenian Americans greater opportunities to explore careers on Capitol Hill, in the U.S. Foreign Service and key Washington, DC, foreign policy think tanks. It is a part of the larger ANCA Capital Gateway Program, which is designed to help university students and graduates find internships and permanent positions in Congressional offices as well as a host of other government agencies and policy groups.
Interns, who participate in a wide variety of projects based on their individual interests, are given the opportunity to gain hands-on experience within the American political system. They participate in a bi-weekly lecture series featuring guest lecturers, including public officials and Armenian American leaders.