“Hai Tahd” directly translates to “Armenian Cause.” It’s the just pursuit of a free, united and independent Armenia as well as reparations and restitution to the Armenian nation for the crimes committed against us. It is what we work towards every day. It is what drives us, what fuels our hearts and minds and what serves our purpose as the youth of our nation.
ANCA-ER kicked off their Monday night advocacy workshop by highlighting “youth advocacy.” ANCA-ER board member Aram Balian opened the evening by highlighting the importance of Hai Tahd, what it means and the importance of youth involvement. He emphasized that without our youth, there is no Hai Tahd. Without the calls, constant efforts, emails and protests organized and led by our youth, S. Res. 150 and H. Res. 296 would not have overwhelmingly passed. The higher volume of calls, the pressure, the grassroots advocacy, are what swayed US lawmakers to vote in our favor, to vote in the name of justice for the Armenian people.
ANCA-ER communications specialist Nairi Diratsouian discussed the channels of Hai Tahd and strategies for youth engagement. Channels of Hai Tahd help light a fire and passion in our youth, and we must take advantage of this passion in furthering our cause. Local ANC chapters, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), Homenetmen and Hamzkayin are critical channels in this effort. These organizations are dedicated to Hai Tahd and preserving the Armenian identity through their own outlets.
Educational institutions act as another channel. You can get involved in your Armenian Students’ Association/Armenian Club, and if there isn’t one, consider starting one. Connect with other Armenians on campus, take Armenian language and history classes, and share information with your professors and classmates.
“Show the youth that they can take that first step to mobilize and provide them with platforms to help them get engaged,” Diratsouian emphasized. Our youth can get involved by canvassing, phone banking, volunteering for events and participating in ANCA and AYF programs. All these outlets provide opportunities for individuals to gain experience in the world of Hai Tahd, find their purpose and their voice, and to show them they can make a true difference.
ANCA programs director Alex Manoukian highlighted the following programs – direct channels to get involved and contribute to Hai Tahd:
Leo Sarkisian Internship (LSI):
- LSI provides student leaders and activists an opportunity to participate in an eight-week intensive program during the summer, where they will be given the tools necessary to effectively advance issues of concern to the Armenian American community on the federal, state and local level.
- Interns will have a chance to lobby on Capitol Hill, gain hands-on experience in the American political system and foster their advocacy and policy skills.
- CGP helps young Armenian professionals and students secure permanent employment and professional internships in Washington, DC.
- The program offers free housing for the first three months, an office space, mentors and professional seminars on resumes, cover letters and interviewing.
- Summer Academy is a one-week, intensive program for high school students, 17-19 years of age, taking place in Washington, DC. It provides the youth the opportunity to learn more about the Armenian cause and how our policy priorities are advanced within the framework of America’s federal government.
- The program involves direct engagement with federal policymakers, ANCA experts and a range of professionals who are involved in matters related to both Armenia and Artsakh.
- Rising Leaders is a three-day Washington, DC program devoted to empowering youth, exploring policy, politics and media careers, and experiencing life in the nation’s capital.
- The program provides opportunities from resume preparation and networking to an overview of the Washington, DC internship and job market. Participants also meet with policy, politics and media professionals, including current and former federal agency and Congressional staff, to discuss careers in the nation’s capital.
One of the most important things we can do is invest in our youth. Investing in our youth means investing in our nation and investing in a free, united and independent Armenia.