By: Janet Shamilian
An Open Letter to My Fellow Armenians…
To My Beloved People:
Prior to the beginning of my internship with the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR), I boldly thought that I could not have had more love for my Armenian people or pride for my country. Moreover, I foolishly believed that the occasional work I delivered in the Armenian community was satisfactory. Thereafter, I soon realized that my work is only satisfactory when I compare myself to the idle populace. Juxtaposing my efforts with those who have dedicated their lives to the Armenian Cause, I now have a better understanding of what it is to truly commit.
In an effort to increase the number of Armenian voters, my colleagues and I went canvassing by knocking on doors, hoping to encourage and inform Armenians of the importance of registering to vote. Following the knocks, the doors would open, and almost always, I was greeted by a beaming Armenian, smiling at the sight of Armenian youth at his or her door. That very moment, witnessing such genuine and effortless happiness made me realize how much my love for my people had grown. Until then, I did not think such development was possible. Often times, all it would take was a simple greeting in Armenian until I was interrupted with a warm welcome indoors. This hospitality, the familial atmosphere, the comfort I felt, and how at ease I was is my greatest elation. It was clear that our presence was refreshing for our elder Armenians. This made me ponder, was this rejuvenation because it is rare to see Armenian youth so active and passionate about their country and people? If this realization was shocking to them, they are luckily mistaken. Throughout this internship, I was constantly surrounded by the most active members in the Armenian community, many of whom are prominent members of the Armenian youth.
Some of the Armenians I met through this process I will never see again, some will come across this, but most will never see this, but regardless, to all of those Armenians who welcomed me the same way my own family would, I cannot ever display the magnitude of my perpetual gratitude. I am eternally thankful and appreciative for being graced with your presence (and for your never-ending persistence when offering me Armenian coffee, chocolates, watermelon, water, and կամպոտ “compote.” In those passing moments, the stories you shared of both your happiest and worst of times only revitalized my energy, hopes, and dreams towards a better future.
Other than the love I found in the homes of my people, behind the doors of the ANCA-WR, I created and collected a plethora of memories, not just of some of the best times I have had, but moreover, memories of the most active, involved, and devoted individuals I have met. I have an immeasurable and unparalleled respect for the work you do. Your humility and modesty speak volumes of your character. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending my productive summer days with you. Though resisting my laughter in our professional setting has been quite the task, in retrospect, I realize that my withheld laughter testifies how much I have enjoyed being surrounded by all of you while working for the people I love. Շատ լաւնեք “Shat lavnek.”
I’m a believer, I believe in people’s capabilities and the height of their dreams. I trust that those individuals who are relentless and never give up will, more often than not, succeed by conquering their ambitions. My belief is deeply invested and founded in you. For this, I would like to bid you farewell with some words of advise: Never settle. Never be discouraged. Never fear failure. Never doubt yourself. Never hesitate when stepping outside your comfort zone because different perspectives and enlightenments can only enrich your overall outlook. Remember to always listen to your inner-voice, more than you listen to the words of others. Anything you engage in and everything you do, give it your all, while attempting to surpass your very best – only then can you progress with the comfort and reassurance of successful completion. Finally, always be mindful that the truest measure and testament to your character is your reaction in times of great difficulty and inconceivable hardship (both of which are inevitable). Even then, never give up.
You, Armenians, are my pride. You are my belief. You are the driving force in everything I do. I live everyday with the comfort of knowing I am a part of your community. Never will I lose sight of our objective as a people. Capable we are, always. And until we meet again…
I’ve got nothing but love.