During my elementary school days at Ari Guiragos Minassian Armenian School in Orange County, California, we were encouraged to advance the Armenian Cause in our communities in any way we could. I didn’t really understand what that meant until I graduated and entered middle school, where I had to convince my new non-Armenian friends that there was much more to Armenia than the Kardashians.
At first, I thought the advancement of Hai Tahd was carried out solely through educating others about our history and culture. The moment Turkey and Azerbaijan attacked Artsakh and Armenia in 2020, and the world stayed silent, I came to realize that education needed to be followed by action to enact real change.
Prior to 2020, as a member of the Orange County Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) “Aghpiur Serop” Juniors and, later, the “Ashod Yergat” Seniors for over 10 years, I have to admit that I was never actively involved. I was surrounded by other Armenians and maintaining my Armenian identity in our agoump (community center) environment was sufficient. Once Artsakh was attacked, it “clicked” that just knowing our history and attending social events were not enough. By applying that knowledge and my public relations skills, I could make an immediate impact in my community. At the first opportunity, I volunteered to chair the chapter’s public relations and outreach committee and took on the events/social chair responsibilities at the Loyola Marymount University Armenian Students Association. My goal, in both cases, was to bring Armenians in my respective communities together, raising funds for Artsakh, participating in protests and exploring other innovative ways to advance Hai Tahd.
Whether it was being active in the AYF, keeping my school friends updated on current Armenian events or going to AYF Camp every summer, I have developed a passion for leading and advancing the Armenian Cause in any way possible. I want to take that to the next level by focusing my studies on sports and entertainment law and creating a community of Armenians and others in the industry who are willing to contribute to our cause while bringing pro-Armenian initiatives to the forefront of the biggest names in society. In today’s media-driven world, working with influencers and individuals who have a large presence in film, sports, music and media provides another outlet to gain supporters who can advocate for pro-Armenian priorities.
During my time participating in the ANCA Leo Sarkisian Summer Internship in Washington, DC, advocating for Hai Tahd was unlike any experience I have ever had. Over the six-week period, we shared community priorities during Congressional meetings and amplified our community’s voice to secure the successful passage of amendments that call for Azerbaijan’s immediate release of Armenian POWs, require US State Department reports on Azerbaijani war crimes, and place conditions on the proposed sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.
The ANCA internship was a great opportunity to enhance our advocacy skills through engaging hands-on seminars and hundreds of Capitol Hill meetings. I look to take these skills back to my Orange County community, working with my local ANC, AYF and ASA to expand the political resistance against Turkish and Azerbaijani aggression. The program also offered career development resources including resume, cover letter, and mock interview workshops.
We should all strive to learn our language and history and share our culture. But most importantly, we need to make a conscious commitment in taking action – in politics, in media, in business – to support Artsakh and Armenia’s independence, now and always.