A Day in the Life of a Congressman
BY DZOVAK KAZANDJIAN
Last week, I had the chance to meet with the foreign affairs staffer of Freshman Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio. The experience taught me just how approachable Members of Congress and their staffers are, which prepared me dramatically for this week’s events. The interns and I were invited to attend a sit-down informal meeting with not one, but two House Members, Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland and Rep. Zach Space of Ohio. The sit down, organized by Next Generation Initiative, gave us a first-hand view of the daily life of a Congressman.
Our meeting with the two Freshman Democrats convinced me, once again, just how wonderfully human Members of Congress are. Representatives Sarbanes and Space spoke to us about their first six months in Congress, and the difficulties they had to face as part of the freshman class. Their experiences reminded me very much of things that interns would typically face in their first few weeks in D.C., particularly on Capitol Hill. Sarbanes mentioned how committee meetings, which were usually in different buildings, sometimes overlapped and how he ran around Capitol Hill, unsure about where exactly each building was located. This reminded me of my first trip to the Hill, which left me feeling lost and even unimportant in such a vast, professional setting.
Along with providing their perspectives on their first terms in office, Congressmen Sarbanes and Space also took questions about the ethics of voting, reelection and also cosponsorship of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, which both support. Rep. Sarbanes mentioned how after six months of serving, he already has to begin campaigning for the next election. Our informal meeting with the congressmen was very insightful, and it was great to see how down to earth they are.
In addition to meeting with the Representatives, we also had the chance to visit the Department of Energy, where we received a lecture from Jake Bournazian, a statistician of the Energy Information Administration. Bournazian provided us with facts on U.S energy policy and how data concerning energy is collected. It was the first time we were able to see the inner workings of a governmental agency.
We also had the opportunity to visit the office of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic in the US and speak with Vardan Barseghian, the official Representative of the Republic. Barseghian gave a brief lecture on Karabagh and the steps that need to be taken for developmental progress. He also explained the functions of the office here in the U.S, describing it as the equivalent of an embassy, although it cannot be referred to as one, since the U.S is yet to recognize NKR as a republic. We, of course, beg to differ.
In addition to our trips, we also received a very insightful lecture from David Joulfaian, a professor at George Washington University. Joulfaian spoke about Armenia’s economy, arguing that although it is progressively growing, poverty remains prominent throughout the country, due mainly to the lack of financial education available in the Armenian universities. Joulfaian suggested ways to change the current situation, stressing the importance of increasing the level of education available in Armenia.
This week proved to be the most eventful week yet here at the Leo Sarkisian Internship, which is saying a lot considering what we have already accomplished. This week also marks the half-way point of the internship, which is both exciting and disappointing. I’m happy to have learned as much as I have and can’t wait to go back to apply it to my own community, but simultaneously feel that there is so much more for me to learn before I make my way back home to Los Angeles.