BY SAREEN KASPARIAN
I didn’t mind the constructive criticism and mindful manner reminders when I was a kid but listening to my mom recite a long list of skills I lacked launched the battle of all battles–experienced mother versus the know-it-all daughter.
Obviously, as a high school junior, I’m still learning and lack many life skills but as a semi-independent almost-adult, I know enough to bring my perspective to the conversation. Actually, when it comes to technology, nutrition and first-aid, I can teach my mom a few important life skills. The more “teachable moments” we exchanged – – from household budgeting to safeguarding our Wi-Fi network to celebrating Armenian traditions, the more we realized the value and importance of this knowledge exchange– not just for our family but for our community.
And so, it begins– the teachable moments or as my mom refers to it– the transfer of knowledge! With every issue, we hope to share our insight with you, as we intertwine experience and reasoning with modern day problems and solutions.
Thanks to Asbarez, AYF, and ANCA, our social media feed and inbox is filled with important and time-sensitive news about Artsakh. It keeps us engaged and active to raise awareness for the 120,000 Armenian men, women and children who have been cut off from the outside world because of Azerbaijan’s illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor. This reckless and inhumane act of aggression has deprived landlocked Artsakh of food supplies, power, heat and medication for almost 2 months in the midst of a harsh winter. Under attack, we plead with President Biden and world leaders to take immediate action and end the blockade. ANCA activists across the nation have been mobilized and actively engaged in advocacy and outreach. AYF members have launched campaigns, hosted community events and organized protests. Much has been done by these dedicated and valued activists, but more remains.
At this critical juncture, we need to widen our circle and extend our reach to outliers—Armenians and non-Armenians, who remain unaware and uninformed. Through one-on-one conversations, school curriculums and community outreach, we can maximize and multiply our influence. In sync, we must avoid toxic and cowardly people who recently stained the streets of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills with flyers threatening to “wipe Armenia off the map” as thousands of Armenian-Americans peacefully marched for Artsakh. Although this was not Azerbaijan’s first attempt to silence us with threats and violence, it still hit hard and heavy.
As I discussed this hate crime with my family, we concluded that our time and effort would be wasted on the intolerant and small-minded. We leave this crime in the capable hands of our law enforcement and judicial system, as they find and punish those who stir up anger and foment hate towards Armenians or any minority group. Our efforts must be focused on individuals outside our immediate crowds, who are open-minded, fair and believe in fighting injustice and intolerance.
- One objective. One Call to Action– In a state of emergency, we need all eyes on Artsakh. With this in mind, focus your talking points on the blockade and the urgency for global interference. The ANCA continues to promote the following Action Alerts—write, call or tweet the Biden Administration and Congress and urge them to take immediate action to a) pressure Azerbaijan to lift its blockade; b) send emergency assistance to Artsakh and c) stop all U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan.
- Tailor your message to your audience– If you are talking to students at your local high school, impart facts about school closures and the abrupt halt of all education. If you are talking to a service and support organization, share statistics about the 9,000 persons with disabilities who face life threatening medical, transportation and dietary challenges because of the blockade. If you are talking to a new mother, share stories of children who have been deprived of parental care as they have been separated from their parents and guardians.
- Know the Facts– As you advocate for a cause you believe in, you become an expert. Everything you say must be accurate and well documented. The current situation is dire enough that it doesn’t need to be exaggerated or presumed. Present facts, show news clips and photos. Prepare a Fact Sheet which should include: history, key facts and statistics, arguments and supporting evidence, call to action, contact information on how the reader can learn more, or get involved, including the name and contact details of the AYF, ANCA and ANCA-WR.
- Quote reputable and established sources– Although the blockage is recent news and impacts a small region, it has been flagged as a humanitarian catastrophe and covered by multiple news outlets like Newsweek, Forbes and Time Magazine. U.S. officials including Ambassador Robert Wood called on the government of Azerbaijan to restore free movement. The United Nations Security Council, UNICEF and Human Rights Watch have issued statements urging the immediate opening of the corridor as the only route for the free flow of food, medical supplies and other necessities to survive.
- Identify your emotions and prepare accordingly– Given the severity and intensity of Artsakh’s current state, our emotions are supersized and hard to hide. Using your emotion can amplify your message but it must be on point and genuine in delivery. If your emotions dominate your delivery, you may weaken your message. If a story saddens you, naturally, your voice will drop. If angry, you may use inappropriate language or display unfitting body language such as slouched shoulders and clenched fists.
As we shine light on this ongoing crisis, we play an important role in educating the masses. Let us share the responsibility of turning every passive person into an Artsakh champion. Together, one person at a time, we will make a difference!