I was never part of Armenian organizations while growing other than the mandatory Saturday Armenian schools. I went to a few different schools until I was in the fourth grade and at my favorite school we would sing a variety of songs as a group. I realized now that specific school I attended did not really focus on teaching the Armenian language as a course, it was more of teaching the Armenian culture and language through songs, group activities, and end of the year recitals. An insignificant amount of time was allotted during the Saturday sessions for grammar and literature. I still have copies of the songs my teacher would hand out and I cherish those. My favorite song was, “Arunot Terosh,” and I would constantly rehearse the song with my cousin who was also attending the same school at the time.
I went to one dance at the Glendale Ararat Center when I was in either 7th or 8th grade but I never tried it again. I was not part of any sports teams, or dance groups. I did not hate being Armenian, but would get embarrassed by some Armenians being, “too Armenian,” if that makes any sense. At times it seemed, from my point of view, as though stereotypes were the only discernable aspects of being Armenian. My parents were very proud of being Armenian and taught us to love who we were, but I felt indifferent at times.
It wasn’t until I noticed how other Armenians at school were anti-Armenian that I noticed my anti-Armenian language and thoughts. Girls at school would always tell me how lucky I was because I did not look Armenian, something I never understood because to me it was impossible, I was Armenian. That was when I realized that if I don’t like being Armenian, I don’t like myself. That was a wakeup call for me, how can I not like the person that I am? Other experiences also brought to light the sheer ignorance of discrimination to any group of people.
When I started UCSB, I joined the ASA organization but stopped attending meetings after a few weeks when I found a job. Technically, I can say that interning at ANCA-WR is my first conscious commitment to an Armenian organization as an adult and I am very proud of what I am doing. I respect the organization and the work that it produces. I am excited to see the work I produce for the organization throughout the internship period.