I have yet to fully digest and reflect on my experiences this summer. So much was learned, seen, achieved, and experienced in two months in a new city with new faces. Many factors made my time incredible; namely the great Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) team, the opportunity to attend important events, and my fellow Terjenian-Thomas interns.
The group of people powering the Assembly are a great combination of characters. Mary keeps everything running smoothly. Joe comes off as the wild card of the group, yet knows about and works on everything produced at the office – a jack of all trades. Rouben is a human encyclopedia. Wearing eye-popping red pants on casual Fridays, Taniel stands out the most. Hard but fair, blunt and honest but always supportive, it was a pleasure and a great professional experience to have worked so closely with him. Bryan captains the ship, exuding an air of Executive Director with his confident and calm demeanor, and has been a true advocate for Armenian-Americans. The result of the Assembly’s effective advocacy work has earned them a sterling reputation on Capitol Hill, and in turn the interns were able to have several meetings with prominent congressmen.
As a young voter with a growing appetite for politics, Capitol Hill seemed daunting. I was excited and anxious to meet Senators, Representatives, and other policy makers. These are the men and women that write the laws and govern our country. The idea that a single individual could wield so much power is a frightening thought, making such individuals seem almost superhuman in that regard. This quality, coupled with the current negative stigma surrounding Congress, left me weary of upcoming meetings with elected officials. But after meeting with several Congressmen, most notably House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Armenian Genocide Resolution sponsors David Valadao (R-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), and other policy makers, it became clear that they too are just people advocating for issues and concerns that they care about, providing me with a renewed hope in our democratic process. My fellow interns and I were also able to meet several leaders in the Washington, D.C. Armenian community. All of the i-a-n’s that I met made me proud to be an Armenian, as they were all remarkable people.
My colleagues in the 2013 class were a pleasant surprise, and a primary reason why the Assembly’s internship experience was so gratifying. Coming from all over the country and across oceans, I befriended Armenians from California, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Yerevan and Stepanakert. Some were completely in touch with their Armenian side and were getting a taste of America in our nation’s capital. Some were the opposite, Americanized and wanting to explore their Armenian heritage in the comfort of Washington, D.C.’s Armenian-American community. Everyone came not knowing what to expect, and all left wanting to stay. Thank you all for such a memorable summer.
To any student considering the Assembly internship program, I would be happy to answer any and all questions you might have: my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. My fellow interns, those working at the Assembly, and the numerous events made for a truly gratifying professional and personal experience.