WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week’s visit by Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the celebrations for the centennial of the First Republic of Armenia made for an ideal time to meet the Armenian Assembly of America’s (Assembly) Terjenian-Thomas Internship Program class of 2018.
The President answered questions from the intern group ranging from how Armenia has transformed since Soviet rule, his international career and multiple professions, and the many changes occurring in Armenia in the past few months. He was joined by the First Lady in responding to questions concerning the important role of women in Armenia’s politics and society.
The exchange with President Sarkissian was part of the Terjenian-Thomas Assembly Internship Program, which features Lecture Series and Capitol Ideas, where they have the chance to discuss Armenian American issues during meetings with Members of Congress, Senators, and other government officials, industry professionals, and noted academics. These activities provide interns a forum to ask questions and discuss topics including current events taking place throughout the world and U.S. policy towards Armenia and Artsakh. In the next few weeks, Assembly interns will meet with Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Vice Chair Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) Representative to the U.S. Robert Avetisyan, and U.S. Homeland Security Program Manager Noris Balabanian, with more meetings scheduled.
Since 1977, the Armenian Assembly has assisted over 1,000 participants in securing placements in prominent congressional offices, government agencies, media outlets, think-tanks and non-governmental organizations in our nation’s capital. Over the 40 years of its program, the Assembly intern alumni established careers in fields ranging from public service, media, journalism, business, and law.
The Armenian Assembly of America Summer Internship Programs – both in Washington, D.C. and Yerevan, Armenia – have been celebrated and strongly supported by the Armenian community with major gifts from the Richard Tufenkian Memorial Fund, the John Hanessian Scholarship Fund, the Armen Astarjian Scholarship Fund, the Ohanian Memorial Fund, Ann Hintlian, Ann Nahigian, James and Connie Melikian, the Knights of Vartan, the Estate of Haig J. Boyadjian, and the Estate of George Judge Karabedian (George Kay), as well as generous contributions in memory of former Assembly Board Members Dr. Lionel Galstaun, Peter Kezirian, and John O’Connor. In 2003, the Armenian Assembly’s Summer Internship Program was renamed in honor of Aram and Florence Terjenian and Annie Thomas after the announcement of their pace-setting $1 million donation to the program.
“On behalf of my fellow interns, I would like to thank the Armenian Assembly for this unique opportunity to meet President Sarkissian and the First Lady. It was an utmost privilege not only to meet the President, but ask him significant questions as well. It was fascinating to hear his opinions and plans for the future of Armenia and how we can actively participate,” stated Lena Richardson, a junior at the University of Dayton interning in the Public Affairs department of the Armenian Assembly.
“This is a terrific example of the types of experiences the Assembly provides for our summer interns,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “These talented young men and women asked insightful questions and engaged in a lively and well-informed dialogue during their meeting with the President. With the dedication and leadership of the next generation, and the democratic changes in Armenia, the future is bright,” Ardouny added.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.