Updated: Jul 26, 2021
“Are we going to get to meet Obama?” … “Will we see the West Wing?”
By Joseph Piatt
After 9 year of managing the Armenian Assembly of America’s Terjenian-Thomas Summer Internship Program you would think the crushing “No” would be easier to deliver. Once again the intern questions come fast and require me to dig deep. I find myself searching for those lost factoids and tour guide trivia that are so often repeated in our nation’s capital.
This year marks the 39th Assembly internship class, with well over 1,000 Armenian American students having passed through Washington’s halls of power. As we continue the tour, I take special care to point out a few of my favorites: The John F. Kennedy portrait, the display of presidential pets, etc. We stop to note the famous portrait of George Washington so often seen in high school history books, which was saved from the White House fire during the 1812 British conquest of the city.
As we continue on, our discussion has picked up among the interns. “Will I ever be here again?”… “Can they really seat 140 people for dinner in this room?”… “Is this where the President eats dinner?” Some questions are more loaded than others, but with joy I pick off the easy ones and move on to the substance. “Well I certainly hope so. Don’t you see yourself as President one day? Or accepting a high honor here in the future?” I retort.
Naturally, I know I’m not far off in my replies. Should these dozen or so Millennials put their minds to it (with a little helping hand and encouragement from the Assembly) any of them could achieve such feats. That is why the Armenian Assembly sets forth each summer to train our next generation of leaders. Knowing that a historic, industrious and cultured youth has so much to offer America and our homeland of Armenia is invaluable to me and my colleagues. I look forward to reading about their achievements in the years to come.
Joseph Piatt is the Director of the Armenian Assembly of America Terjenian-Thomas Internship Program. He is an alumnus of the 2004 intern class and holds a B.A. from the University of Vermont.