Early this week, the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region (ANCA-WR) kicked off its 2014 Summer Internship Program for the ninth year, taking in six young and enthusiastic community activists. Throughout the next 10 weeks, Hakop Azatyan, Natalie Bosnoian, Sareen Habeshian, Zareh Hairapetian, Gerard Khatchadourian, and Arevik Shahnazari will take on a wide range of responsibilities within the organization and participate in weekly
workshops and lectures; allowing them to learn the nuts and bolts of community organizing and nonprofit management.
“We have an extremely dynamic group of young adults joining us this summer who come from varying backgrounds of involvement, but all share the common goal of giving back to their community and advancing the Armenian cause. As with every session, we look forward to providing them the platform and the pipeline of support to obtain hands-on experience in grassroots advocacy and public affairs,” stated ANCA-WR Executive Director Elen Asatryan.
Azatyan is a recent graduate of the University of California, Irvine where he studied Sociology and Conflict Resolution. After being involved in a yearlong research project through the sociology honors program, Azatyan wrote his honors thesis on the Armenian Diaspora in Los Angeles including factors in settlement, cultural perseverance and return to the homeland. He also linked up with the Olive Tree Initiative last year to further his understanding of the Armenian/Turkish conflict through experiential education in the region. He was recently part of the student group traveling this summer to the region to meet first hand with civilians, senators, ambassadors and academics who provided first-hand accounts of current events and issues. Azatyan plans to pursue a joint law and public policy degree program in hopes of one day working to develop peace and educational policies through a career in national security law. During the internship, aside from general duties, Azatyan will be serving on the ANCA WR Education and Annual Gala Banquet committees.
Natalie Bosnoian attended Lycee International de Los Angeles, and is a recent graduate of Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School, where she was heavily involved in on-campus activities promoting civic engagement and community service. She is currently a freshman at Glendale Community College. “After participating in this year’s ANCA-WR Advocacy Day in Sacramento, I decided that I wanted to be involved in this organization and learn more about political advocacy and issues in the Armenian-American community,” said Bosnoian. “The ANCA-WR Internship will be my first opportunity working with an Armenian-American organization and I look forward to the weeks and months ahead,” she added. Bosnoian has been assigned to the ANCA WR Annual Gala Banquet and Government Affairs committees.
Sareen Habeshian is a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley. Her passion for the Armenian Cause and Armenian culture had been rooted in her from a young age, attending Chamlian Armenian School and AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School. She has been involved in student government, founded a Broadcasting Club at her high school, served on the high school’s varsity soccer, basketball, and cross country teams, and starred in Armenian theatre productions. She is now an executive member of the Armenian Student’s Association at Berkeley, writes for a school magazine, and has her own blog entitled Chronicles of an LA Girl in the Bay. Upon completing her education, she intends to pursue a career as a journalist.. “I am excited about this internship because it will give me the experience and the skillset to understand how to be proactive and actually bring about change, and meanwhile help me better grasp the Armenian-American issues that we face today,” says Habeshian. During the internship, Habeshian will be serving on the ANCA WR Annual Gala Banquet and America, We Thank You: An Armenian Tribute to Near East Relief committees.
Come fall, Zareh Hairapetian will be studying Materials Science and Engineering at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). Already being involved in Armenian-American organizations, such as Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) scouts and Homenetmen Basketball, Zareh is eager to learn more about advocacy and civic engagement through the ANCA WR. Hairapetian, in his senior year at San Marino High School, worked on a project assessing the time the Armenian Genocide was taught throughout high schools in California. Through his project he traveled to schools inside, and outside, his congressional district to urge the importance of teaching about the Armenian Genocide and training students on how they can take proactive steps to increase the amount of time their school’s world history teachers spent teaching about the Armenian Genocide. Along with his classmates, Hairapetian also traveled to Sacramento in April to participate in the ANCA WR Advocacy Day through which they met with elected officials and administrators to discuss the importance of the Genocide Education Bill. Zareh has been assigned to the ANCA WR Education and Government Affairs committees.
“After being introduced to the ANCA WR and traveling to Sacramento with them, I was confident that the quintessential way to advance the Armenian Cause is through this organization. I am confident that this will be an extremely rewarding and productive summer,” said Zareh.
Gerard Khatchadourian is an incoming senior at Lycee Francais High School where he serves as the president of the Model United Nations Club, writes for the school’s newspaper, and is part of the soccer and fencing teams. Off campus, Khatchadourian is a proud member of Homenetmen and has previously worked on various campaigns and GOTV efforts, including the ANCA-WR Hye Votes initiative. “The Armenian community has given so much to me and I hope through this internship I can give a little back,” stated. Khatchadourian. For the next 10 weeks, he will be serving on the ANCA WR Government Affairs and America, We Thank You: An Armenian Tribute to Near East Relief committees.
Arevik, having just graduated with a First Class Honors in Politics and International Relations at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, looks forward to the challenges that America will bring her. As part of the AGBU Youth Summer Internship Program in 2013, Shahnazari traveled to Yerevan where she interned at the ‘Department of Armenian Communities in America and Europe’ within the Ministry of Diaspora. In addition, she has been a devoted volunteer of the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund. Arevik will be joining the remaining interns as of July 22nd, but will in the meantime work and participate in weekly workshops remotely.
Established in summer 2006, the ANCA Western Region Internship Program is a selective part time leadership program, which introduces high school seniors, college students, and recent college graduates to all aspects of the public affairs arena. The program provides an opportunity for student leaders and activists to gain an in-depth understanding of the American political system, Armenian-American issues and advocacy efforts on the local, state and federal levels.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
Photo Caption: ANCA WR Board of Directors and Advisory Board Members with 2014 ANCA WR Summer Intern Class. Seated from left: ANCA WR Advisory Board Members Harut Sassounian,
Mourad Topalian, ANCA National Board Member Raffi Hamparian, ANCA WR Chair Nora Hovsepian, ANCA WR Board Members Karo Khandjian, Raffi Kassabian, Arpie Jivalagian.
Standing from left: ANCA WR Executive Director Elen Asatryan, 2014 ANCA WR Summer Interns Zareh Hairapetian, Sareen Habeshian, ANCA WR Advisory Board Member Michael Mahdesian, 2014 ANCA WR Summer Interns Hakop Azatyan, Gerard Khatchadourian, Natalie Bosnoian, ANCA WR Government Affairs Director Tereza Yerimyan, ANCA WR Board Member