July 17, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC – With five weeks already completed, the 2003 ANCA Leo Sarkisian Interns, are gearing up for a final series of lectures, meetings and project work designed to teach them the vital skills for effective grassroots activism, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Nine interns from throughout the United States have traveled to Washington to take part in the ANCA internship, now in its 19th year. The ANCA Western and Eastern Region Boards chose each participant from a wide pool of qualified applicants for their leadership in community youth activities and academic excellence. The goal of the program is to further train community activists to work with local ANC chapters and other organizations to advance issues of concern to the Armenian American community. During their eight weeks in the nation’s capital, interns meet with elected officials, attend Congressional hearings and seminars and work with Congressional staff to develop their lobbying skills. Dividing the Senate and House Congressional delegation according to geographic area, interns contact Senators, Representatives and their constituents to enlist their support for key legislation including the Genocide Resolution and the resolution to extend permanent normalized trade relations status to Armenia (H.R.528).

Summer Program Cornerstone of ANCA Capital Gateway Program

The ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship Program is an integral part of a growing effort to provide Armenian Americans greater opportunities to explore careers on Capital Hill, in the U.S. Foreign Service and key Washington, DC foreign policy think tanks. The ANCA Capital Gateway Program, launched earlier this year through a donation by the Cafesjian Family Foundation, is designed to help university students and graduates find internships and permanent positions in Congressional offices as well as a host of other government agencies and policy groups. Capital Gateway Program Coordinator Arsineh Khachikian and the ANCA staff arrange temporary housing for non-summer participants and provide assistance as they make their first foray to Washington – one which will lead to a career in public service. Those interested in receiving more information and submitting an application should visit the ANCA Website – www.anca.org

AYF “Sardarabad” Chapter Establishes “Garo Madenlian” Internship Fund
Building on its rich tradition of promoting political activism amongst Armenian American youth, the Armenian Youth Federation San Fernando Valley “Sardarabad” Chapter initiated the “Garo Madenlian Internship Fund,” in memory of the dedicated Sardarabad chapter member and community activist, whose life was tragically cut short in April, 1998. Since then, proceeds from chapter functions have assisted remodeling efforts at AYF Camp; helped establish the AYF “Garo Madenlian” Public Affairs office in Glendale, CA; and, most recently, launched the “Garo Madenlian Internship Fund” which will guarantee the necessary financial resources for a qualified San Fernando Valley youth activist to participate in the ANCA Washington, DC internship program on a yearly basis.

AYF Western U.S. Central Executive Chairman and Sardarabad Chapter member Melkon Melkonian explained how the “Garo Madenlian Internship Fund” came about. “It was very important for our chapter to find an appropriate way to donate funds raised in memory of Unger Garo. We knew that the project must not only serve the Armenian community but also assist in attaining justice for the Armenian Cause. These were the ideals close to Unger Garo’s heart, and we believe that the establishment of an internship fund at the ANCA is one of the best ways to honor his memory.”

ANCA Interns: Diverse Backgrounds – One Common Goal
Traveling to Washington, DC from communities across the U.S., the Leo Sarkisian interns arrived with one goal in mind – to become effective advocates of Armenian American issues in Washington, DC and in their hometowns.

Maro Siranosian, a sophomore at the University of California Irvine, is a long time activist in the Armenian American community through the AYF Montebello “Vahan Cardashian” chapter and Homenetmen. “The ANCA Leo Sarkissian Internship has given me the opportunity to understand how the Armenian lobby fits into the larger scheme of the American political system,” explained Siranosian. “I have also been given the chance to work in an office whose tireless staff educate and inspire me everyday to become a more effective activist.”

Suzy Bezikian is a junior at the University of California at Irvine studying political science with a minor in education. An active member of the AYF Sardarabad chapter and ARF Shant Student Organization, Bezikian is the first “Garo Madenlian Intern”. Bezikian noted, that “the ANC internship has taught me a new way to approach Armenian American issues through a political outlet.”

Karine Birazian is a senior nursing student at Loyola University of Chicago. Active in the Chicago AYF “Ararat” chapter and local Homenetmen, Birazian is participating in the program, in part, through a gracious donation by the Homenetmen Eastern Region.”My experience here at the Armenian National Committee has been amazing,” explained Birazian. “In the past month that I have been in DC I have become so involved in the cause and now truly understand what Hai Tahd means.”

Arpie Jivalagian, a sophomore at University of California Irvine studying criminology and political science. Active in the UCI Armenian Students Association and the Homenetmen Pasadena Chapter, Jivalagian has been instrumental in ANC Pasadena Voter Registration Campaigns. “This internship has been very informative and a lot of fun,” said Jivalagian. “It’s given me an opportunity to better understand politics and establish a deeper connection with my Armenian roots.”

The internship boasts a trio of students attending Villanova University in Pennsylvania – Manan Smbatian, Linda Khatchadrian, and Niherie D. Miller. Each holds leadership positions in the Villanova Armenian Youth Organization (AYO) and the Philadelphia AYF “Sebouh” Chapter. Smbatian, a junior studying political science with a concentration in criminology explained that, “Through the ANCA internship, I have had the opportunity to partake in a range of activities aimed at furthering Armenian American issues which have helped me extend my knowledge of Hai-Tahd and learn how the Armenian lobby operates.”

Linda Khatchadrian, a senior studying political science and sociology, is founder of the Villanova AYO. “Only one month into the ANCA internship, my increased knowledge about the political process in Washington, DC has surpassed all my expectations,” explained Linda. “My experience with Armenian issues has instilled in me a new-found motivation for the Armenian Cause.”

Niherie D. Miller, currently a junior pursuing a degree in accountancy and international business, continues her activism in the ANC of Pennsylvania. When asked on why Miller chose to take part in the ANC internship, she said, “I wanted to learn more about the Armenian Cause and what the ANC does to help Armenians both in Armenia and the United States. I saw this internship as the perfect opportunity to acquire this knowledge and later take back and educate my Armenian community.”

Alina Azizian is a 4th year student at the University of California, Berkeley. She is studying Political Science and plans to attend law school following her undergraduate studies. She is a Senator for the Associated Students of the University of California, Co-President of the Armenian Students Association and active in numerous other organizations including Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society and the Cal Democrats. She is also active in the ANC Bay Area chapter where she helped organize the Generation Y Youth Advocacy Project. “Interning in the ANCA office has been a great experience. Not only have I learned more about Hai Tahd work and the behind the scenes of politics, but I have also made great friends who continuously inspire me. I can not wait to go back home and put my new skills and knowledge to work,” remarked Azizian

Mike Gedjeyan is a junior at the at the University of California San Diego majoring in economics. He has been greatly involved in the political scene in the Glendale community, working on several campaigns, including those for Glendale City Councilman Rafi Manoukian and Burbank School Board Member Paul Krekorian. Prior to coming to Washington, DC, Gedjeyan worked on staff at the ANCA Western Region Office.

“I am very privileged to have been given the opportunity to intern for the ANCA in Washington, DC,” noted Gedjeyan. “By coming out to Washington, I hope to understand how our grassroots efforts in our Western Region Office make an impact on our elected officials. I want to see exactly where the rubber meets the road. So far, being in Washington has taught me that our grassroots work actually does make a difference.”


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW, Suite 904, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 * Email.anca@anca.org
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