Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, my family did everything they could to instill in me a love of my Armenian heritage and culture and a thorough understanding of the Armenian language and history. I attended a weekly Armenian school where I was taught the Armenian language, culture and the importance of teaching others about Armenia. My grandparents taught me our family history and how their mothers and fathers survived the horrors of the Armenian Genocide. They remind me that still having family in Armenia makes me all the more connected to our homeland. This same love for my Armenian heritage and community has driven me to participate in the ANCA’s Leo Sarkisian Internship. My goal throughout this internship is to develop a deeper understanding of the government process that turns Armenian concerns into action, to develop a network of similar-minded youth with whose help I can advance the Armenian Cause, and to foster a new generation of dedicated Armenians.
As a result of this love for my homeland, I remember being frustrated by America’s lack of recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the name of politics while countless nations around the world had recognized and condemned Turkey for its horrific acts. In 2021, when President Biden officially recognized the Armenian Genocide, US relations with Turkey did not come to an abrupt halt, justifying the frustration of many as this recognition could and should have come earlier. Although I am thankful for this official recognition and attempt to correct the wrongs of the past, the Biden administration continues to take actions that promote aggression against Armenia including the waiver of Section 907 which allows for continued military aid to Azerbaijan. These events have sparked within me an interest in politics and government with my end goal being to help Armenia prosper. As an LSI participant, I aim to grow my knowledge and experience while navigating the corridors of the federal government, as well as learning how the needs of the Armenian people are brought to and supported by our representatives. With these tools, I hope to pursue a career in foreign relations where I can continue advocating for the Armenian cause.
In 2018, prior to the 2020 Artsakh War, I had the honor of being selected to join scouts from around the world and participate in Homenetmen’s 11th Jamboree in Armenia. During the three weeks I spent in Armenia, I connected with a multitude of Armenian youth all with unique perspectives and upbringings who shared the common love for and desire to protect Armenia. This experience opened my eyes to just how many Armenian youths are having the same experiences I am. Through my time in DC, I hope to meet and learn from my peers from all around the country and build lifelong friendships just as I did in Armenia. In the Armenian community, these connections are particularly important because they give us a network to rely on when it comes to collaborating on initiatives to further the Armenian cause. It allows us to come together and create a uniquely Armenian experience that includes knowing individuals in all different fields of the professional world whose work ethic is reputable due to their prior involvement in recognized Armenian organizations.
My participation in the Leo Sarkisian Internship is not just for my own gain, however. In today’s climate, the future of Armenia and Artsakh is becoming increasingly more uncertain. The increased aggression from its neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan, as well as decreased US aid, has had a plethora of negative impacts on both countries. As a diaspora, it is our responsibility to support our homeland from abroad and guarantee that it thrives for all posterity. I plan to take what I learn and apply it to my local Armenian community through Homenetmen and ASA. Ensuring our youth learn their history, language and culture will help them love their homeland and better understand the importance of taking on the responsibilities of Hai Tahd. The participation of Armenian youth in programs like ANCA internships helps secure the future of Armenia by not only teaching them about the governmental approach to pro-Armenian advocacy, but also the importance of professional connections that can help open doors in many fields from which they can help the homeland. These spaces help Armenian youth create new communities based on a shared purpose — dedicated to advancing our shared cause. It’s imperative that we link our youth through their goals and interest, because if we don’t, we lose an opportunity to create a generation of dedicated Armenians that can take action and make change. Creating opportunities for Armenian youth to meet with one another through organizations like the ANCA, Homenetmen, AYF and ACYO is crucial to the survival and prosperity of our Armenian-American communities.