As my internship in the Western Region progresses, I’m seeing things more clearly. From my perspective, however naïve it may be, a certain power exists in Armenians that I had never noticed before, or at least I hadn’t paid much attention to. We are small in number, and are spread throughout the world, but we all work together to make each other’s lives better and happier, today and tomorrow.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about my trip to Armenia several years back, and I recall how much I was left in awe of its beauty. We, as a people, certainly have a lot to call our own—miles long of fields planted with colorful flowers and sweet fruits, villages rich with culture and history, and a clear Lake Sevan reflecting the sky. There is this great deal of beauty and extraordinary amount of good in Armenians. Good people doing great work and helping each other. The things our grandparents and their parents have gone through and ultimately accomplished, especially given our devastating past, it makes me proud to be an Armenian. Our wounds and battles can be dated back to the 400’s, when Armenians were pressured into converting to Zoroastrianism, during the battle of Avarayr. Not only were we heavily outnumbered by the opposing side, the Persian army had even intoxicated elephants, making them wilder and more dangerous. Even though we lost the battle, our enemies had heavy causalities. After the seemingly ceaseless uprisings and guerilla warfare which followed, we were guaranteed religious freedom. Yet, only less than a hundred years ago we were forced to protect our lands from the Ottoman Turks during the battle of Sardarabad. Once again, we were heavily outnumbered, but we managed to defeat the Ottomans, preventing them from proceeding further into Armenia and preserving our physical existence within the current borders of Armenia.
Today, thousands of miles away from our homeland, Armenian-Americans are making tremendous efforts to pass a resolution in the U.S. Congress to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Earlier this week, fellow interns and volunteers and I called hundreds of people and asked if they can contact their local representative and ask him/her to vote “yes” on an amendment calling on Turkey to return all Armenian and other Christian churches that were stolen during the Armenian Genocide. Sure, some calls went to voicemail and others were bad numbers. But it was surprising to see how many Armenian-Americans from all around the United States said they would definitely call their representative. I remember speaking to one man, and after I asked him to call, he questioned whether or not I thought our efforts would work. Before I had a chance to answer, his wife immediately interjected on the other end and asked for the number so that she can make the call to her local representative. I smiled to myself, stunned at how willing the Armenian people were to make a change when roused strongly enough. Sure, the United States hasn’t yet acknowledged the Genocide, but with each attempt, with every year, we are a step closer. All we can do is try, right? After all, what is success without failure.
With this in mind, this week has been filled with stressfully long hours in the office, spent meeting one deadline after another and constantly responding to emails. But who’s complaining? Surely, I am not (I am surprised to say this with no sarcasm). However stressful it may be, this internship is definitely worthwhile, as I am constantly learning, both about myself and my fellow Armenian-Americans. I am looking forward to the weeks to come.