How pro-Artsakh advocacy helped me find my community voice

Christian Yerelekian (second from right) with fellow 2022 ANCA Leo Sarkisian Interns Natali Matossian, Victoria Topalian, and Gregory Codilian just prior to a Congressional meeting advocating for pro-Artsakh/Armenia priorities.

Since I was old enough to understand the immense historical and present-day struggles that Armenians face, I have stood for the Armenian Cause. This passion has been fostered by my parents, who have always encouraged me to use my skills to spread and share Armenia’s rich culture, history, and present-day realities with those around me.

I did not attend Armenian schools, and a vast majority of my fellow students were not even remotely familiar with Armenia, much less Artsakh. This only invigorated my passion for promoting the Armenian Cause.

When Azerbaijan and Turkey attacked Artsakh and Armenia in September 2020, I knew that educating fellow students about the situation and rallying their support for Artsakh’s just cause was more important than ever. The ethnic cleansing of Artsakh’s indigenous Armenian population was happening before our eyes, and it was simply going unnoticed across the world.

This is when I took my parents’ advice to harness my writing and speaking skills to share Artsakh’s message. I had already been discussing global issues in a podcast I had started in early 2020, called “You’ll See Why with Christian Yerelekian.” That was my perfect platform to do a deep dive into the Artsakh. In early October, I produced “A Conversation about Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and the Battle for Survival,” an episode that included an interview with Armenian National Committee of Armenia (ANCA) executive director Aram Hamparian.

I sent my podcast to my high school headmaster, as well as many of my teachers and fellow students, who all informed me that before listening to my episode, they had no idea that the Artsakh crisis existed, thanked me for sharing such a critical humanitarian issue and asked me how they can support and take action. This was just one episode, shared locally, but it was making a difference in relaying the Armenian story – one listener at a time. This left me inspired to take my pro-Armenian advocacy to the next level.

Fast forward to my freshman year at the University of Notre Dame. As much as I love my university and our South Bend community, the Armenian demographic is incredibly small. Our Armenian Students Association (ASA) consists of around eight active members. But, I am not discouraged. As I enter my second year of college, as ASA president, my goal is to create as much awareness about Armenian issues as possible – both on campus and beyond – to encourage strong and active support for the Armenian homeland. We’ll be bringing speakers to campus, promoting joint allyships with other minority student associations and seeking to get the university itself more active with Armenia and Artsakh.

Majoring in political science and Chinese language with a minor in business economics, I look to target my research on Armenia’s current economic situation with a special focus on the trade relationship between Armenia and China. This topic is extremely relevant, especially now, given the Ukrainian-Russian War and the implications that it will have and is already having on Armenia’s economy. I’m also interested in exploring the dynamics of Armenia’s growing IT sector leveraging that market to build partnerships in Europe and beyond.

At the same time, I am looking to strengthen my pro-Armenian advocacy skills through the ANCA’s Leo Sarkisian Summer Internship. Mr. Hamparian had mentioned the opportunity when preparing the Artsakh War podcast episode. I was thrilled to be chosen for the program. It’s only been only a few weeks, and I’ve noticed that participating in congressional meetings has taught me how to speak with confidence and clarity on pressing community concerns. It’s also sparked an interest in working on Capitol Hill and even seeking elected officeshaping sound domestic policies and a principled US foreign policy, including the expansion of US ties with Armenia and Artsakh.

I am confident that this summer’s experience with the ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship will help me be a better campus leader in the short term, expand career options post-graduation, and give structure to my lifelong passion for advancing the Armenian Cause. Together with my studies and the support of my family I know I’m on the right path to achieve my career goals while helping secure justice for Artsakh and the Armenian nation.

Christian Yerelekian

Christian Yerelekian

Christian Yerelekian is a rising sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, studying political science, business economics and Chinese language and literature.
Christian Yerelekian

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Chrstian I am very proud & happy for your desire to help promote “all things Armenian” You set a fine example to other Armenian youth to follow. Your heart is in the right place please maintain the course. Wish you all the very best in achieving your future goals. Thank you & God Bless.
    Sebu Tashjian
    Former State Minister,
    Republic of Armenia

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