By Taniel Koushakjian
Every summer, the Armenian Assembly of America family grows as the Terjenian-Thomas interns embark on an 8-week adventure in our nation’s capital. While many of our interns are working in their respective fields all over Washington, a select group who have a passion for journalism, communications, and politics have gained experience working in the Assembly’s press department.
Gevorg Shahbazyan spends his time working between the Assembly communications team and the Office of the Nagorno Karabakh Representative in the U.S. Gevorg is from Miami, Florida, where he majors in International Relations, with a concentration in diplomacy, at Florida International University. Gevorg is fluent in English, Armenian, and Russian, and he is also learning Spanish and Persian.
This summer, Gevorg penned his first publication, “Russian Policies in Ukraine and their effect on the South Caucasus,” which was prominently featured in the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, the first English language Armenian weekly published in the United States. He has also collaborated on other assignments which have been met with equal success.
“It has been a very enjoyable and educational experience working for the Assembly,” stated Shahbazyan. “The Armenian Assembly has supported and helped many young Armenians, and I can proudly claim that I was one of many students. Sharpening my skills as a writer and expanding my knowledge of the American political system all while working in Washington, D.C. has been like a dream come true,” Shahbazyan said.
(L-R: Peter Kechichian, Taniel Koushakjian, Gevorg Shahbazyan, and Mariam Pashayan)
Mariam Pashayan, originally from Yerevan, Armenia, also spends her time in D.C. in two functions; as an intern at the Armenian National Institute as well as the Assembly’s communications team. Mariam is currently studying political science in the Honors Program at Fresno City College. She is currently in her second semester and will be transferring to a University of California school of her choice. She has a great knowledge and interest in Armenian issues and speaks both English and Armenian fluently.
Mariam kick-started the summer by raising key Armenian American concerns in the most unlikely of places: a conference dealing with Turkey. Her line of questioning stunned the panel and the audience as she and her fellow Assembly interns were the only Armenians in the room. Mariam also published her first article this summer covering Congressmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) statements on the departing Armenian ambassador in the U.S.
“My internship this summer has been a very demanding and yet educational experience. I have completed assignments ranging from reporting on conferences and committee hearings, to conducting research at the Library of Congress,” stated Pashayan. “I am very thankful for this opportunity that was given to me by James and Connie Melikian and the Armenian Assembly. I will forever cherish the memories and friendships I have made in this program, Pashayan said.
Peter Kechichian is currently a communications intern for the Armenian Assembly of America. He was born in Melbourne, Australia and recently graduated from Monash University with a B.A. in journalism and minor focus in political science. He is currently pursuing his honors degree at the same university and is conducting research on the Armenian Genocide. He has extensive experience in the media industry, working in news rooms in Melbourne, New York, and Yerevan. Peter speaks both English and Armenian fluently.
Like his colleagues, Peter’s work this summer has been widely distributed to various mainstream, Armenian, and Armenian American publications. He was first to break the news that President Obama had nominated a new ambassador to Azerbaijan. Peter continued his coverage of the ambassadorial merry-go-round with the announcement of a new U.S. ambassador to Armenia, as well as the Armenian Assembly welcoming the new Armenian ambassador to Washington. Peter also collaborated with his peers, jointly publishing an analytical piece entitled “NATO and Azerbaijan: an Unbalanced Partnership,” which was picked up by The Bug Pit, the military and security blog of Eurasianet.org.
“Working as a communications intern for the Armenian Assembly of America has been both a challenging and an immensely rewarding experience. I have completed tasks as diverse as drafting press releases and conducting research, to attending conferences and Congressional hearings, as well as meeting with important public figures,” stated Kechichian. “I know that the skills I have developed during my time here will help me greatly in my future career and I’m grateful for the Assembly in giving me the opportunity,” Kechichian said.
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