My Week in Review: Karabagh and AYF Junior Seminar


Last week, Louisiana became the fourth state in the U.S. to recognize the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh) as a free, independent nation. The Louisiana State Senate adopted a resolution that urged the U.S. president and Congress to support Artsakh’s self-determination and democratic independence.

Michelle Hagopian
Michelle Hagopian

The victory comes on the heels of a Karabagh resolution passed by the Maine House of Representatives on April 10 this year. So far, four states in one year (since May 2012) have recognized Artsakh, the other two being Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

What an exciting time for Armenians.

As we approach 100 years of denial of the Armenian Genocide, it’s easy to feel defeated when our victories seem to be few and far between. The U.S. government repeatedly takes Turkey’s side even though we have friends of our cause in every level of government. We fight for more aid to Armenia and Artsakh even though the president has drastically cut the budget for such aid. In brief, we really cherish our victories.

The Karabagh resolutions are quickly becoming the group of battles we must win. Think about it: Many people who are not Armenian don’t even know that Armenia is a country. I’ve literally been asked if Armenia was a type of tree. I wish I were joking.

Why would we expect those people to know what the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh is? Hint: We shouldn’t.

That’s why we need to educate. That’s why with each state that passes a resolution supporting Artsakh, we must celebrate that victory, thank our friends who helped push it through, and regroup to start on another state.

Four states down in the ANCA Eastern Region. It’s a great start for 12 months of work, but there are still 27 more in our region and 46 more total where we need to claim victory.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I spoke at AYF Junior Seminar in Prospect, Pa. I’ve been going to that event as an AYF member since I was 10 years old, but this year I had the privilege of being a lecturer who spoke on the ANCA, Artsakh, and Azeri propaganda.

It was one of the most fulfilling weekends of my life because I was able to take what I’ve learned since starting this job in September and directly influence the next generation. The subject matter was somewhat dense for 10- to 16-year-olds, but I was surprised to learn that even the youngest kids grasped what I was saying and understood what we’re trying to do. Actually, the 10-year-olds sometimes knew more than the 16-year-olds.

That’s significant. I talked about this year’s victory in Maine with the passing of its Karabagh resolution, and they correctly guessed the other two states that have passed Artsakh legislation. I wish I could reach out to them all now and say Louisiana is our most recent victory.

AYFers, if you’re reading this, add Louisiana to the list. Maybe next year at Junior Seminar four more states will have recognized Artsakh. Shoot, maybe a dozen more will.

At the end of each lecture, I passed out a sheet of paper that listed the facts they learned, and I also included my work number, cell phone number, and email address so they can reach me should they ever have questions or want to get involved. A few of the Junior members approached me afterward and said they wanted to help their local ANC, even though they weren’t yet 16 years old.

In short, I was inspired after Junior Seminar, and sure enough a few days later, Louisiana gave me more reason to smile.

By working together and harnessing resources throughout our community, we will continue to make a real difference in supporting the democratic and economic development of Artsakh. Like Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, and, now, Louisiana, we will tackle it one state at a time. The ANCA salutes the devoted community activists who have worked tirelessly with legislators on these pro-Artsakh resolutions, as well as on the wide range of issues of concern to our local communities.

Four states down. Will you help us claim victory in the next one?

Michelle Hagopian

Michelle Hagopian

Michelle Hagopian is the chairwoman of AYF-YOARF Central Executive. She has served as the executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region.

1 Comment

  1. I congratulate ANCA Director Michelle Hagopian in educating the AYF at their Junior Seminar. These are important issues in training our Youth for what our Armenian People have gone thru down thru the centuries under the heel of the Turk. Thank you Michelle & continue on your endeavors.

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