This summer was a very exciting and educational one for me. I had the chance to participate in an internship with the Armenian Assembly of America in Washington, D.C. The Armenian Assembly is a lobbying group for Armenian issues, and also an organization that educates people about issues going on in Armenia today. My name is Jennifer Peters, and I am currently a junior at California State University, Fresno. I applied to do an internship with this group back in January of 1995.
When I received my acceptance letter in March, I was very excited and anxious to find out what the summer would hold. I started off my summer by moving into the dorms at Georgetown University. A total of 20 interns were a part of the group. We all shared one floor and each had a roommate. The interns were from all different parts of the country but shared the common interest of Armenians and Armenian issues.
I made many close friendships I know will last me a lifetime. The interns all worked for different organizations and agencies in Washington D.C., usually according to their major in college. My internship was with the U.S. Department of Commerce. Other internships included The National Endowment for the Arts, The U.S. Federal Reserve, Department of Education, and also working for a congressman, plus many more. We all had a very rewarding experience no matter what we did.
The summer was not just work, however, when you gather 20 young people together for 8 weeks, there is bound to be plenty of fun. We made road trips to Atlantic City, N.J., the beach at Ocean City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Maryland, Virginia and many more exciting places. When we weren’t on the road, we were taking in the sights in Washington D.C. We toured the Smithsonian Museums, Monuments, the White House and the Capital. Spending the 4th of July in the nation’s capital was an exciting experience in itself. Then, of course who could forget the exciting night life of Georgetown and Washington D.C.
I have to say, this is one of the most rewarding experience I have ever had. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I would love to explain every detail, but believe me, it is something you must experience for yourself. I would encourage this to anyone who is interested in making many new friends from around the country, working in our nation’s capital, and having the time of their life!
Over this past summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the Armenian Assembly Summer Intern Program in Washington D.C. The program accepts twenty two students and sends out their resumes to their desired area of interest. In addition to aiding the process of finding you an internship, the Assembly also arranges lecturers and trips to places where the interns would like to go.
The lecturers included congresspeople, professors, and human rights activists having some connection to Armenian issues. There were many different reasons why students chose to go to Washington D.C. to do an internship. I was curious as to why these students chose the route of the Armenian Assembly. Was it to build a better understanding and relationships with other Armenians or was it a way to get your parents to dish out some cash for a summer vacation?
I was very optimistic about conversing and analyzing how others viewed the label ‘Armenian’ with all of its cultural, ethnic, and religious connotations. What I found was a major deficiency, maybe not in interest, but dialog about the topic. I really didn’t see any special ‘Armenian’ bonds that were explicit. What I did see was the strong desire by virtually every fellow intern about the subject of our homeland when it came up during the lectures. Could it be, with the inevitable victory of Western assimilation over Armenian-Americans, that the only real element that will exist in our Armenianness is the bond with the homeland?
After spending two months with twenty one other Armenians from all over the country, this seems to be so. Don’t feel as if having an ‘Armenian’ bond should be the only reason why one should apply to the internship program. At the personal level, I made three friends for life. Two of these friends were also interns in the Armenian Assembly Program who worked with me at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Arsineh Voskanian, a business and economics student at UCLA, is a very eloquent and hard working woman who was always around when I needed somebody to talk to. Rachel Goshgarian, an international relations and French student at Wellesley College, is a very ambitious woman who challenged me on my views. I was very pleased to see that these women have kicked the typical good, submissive Armenian “girl” stereotype right out the window and have chosen to create their own identities. To both of these lovely ladies I say good luck on your futures, tell me all about it in ten years. The other friend that I discovered is a diligent and intelligent contributor to the Armenian Assembly’s efforts, Joseph Masih. Some of the other interns would say things like we were separated at birth, but that I wasn’t diligent and intelligent. They got the latter part right. T
hus, another benefit to this program would be to meet and converse with the people at the Assembly and see what their views are on Armenian issues. The major difference between the people working at the Assembly and most other Armenians is that they are putting their views into practice. A third reason to do the internship through the Assembly is that they provided means of transportation for the interns as a whole to go visit and do new things.
Every week, the interns would have a meeting to see where they would like to go. This democratic process led the group to such places as Philadelphia, Ocean City, Atlantic City, and places we didn’t intend to include in our trips. We also did some unique activities in nature like rapelling with Joe and river rafting through three states. You could say we were busy. This year the Armenian Assembly scored some major victories in the House while I was in Washington D.C. They put some long nights into getting several bills through which included the Visclosky Act and the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act.
The Assembly is really the only organization that does work on Armenian issues at the federal level and gets positive results. To those of you considering an internship in our nations capital, do it through the Assembly. You will make some very close friends in a short allotment of time. The Assembly always encouraged us, but didn’t impose us, to participate in many unforgettable events and activities. It gave me the opportunity to see D.C. and the right-wing coalition with my own eyes, and let me tell you they are just as idiotic in person as they are on television. I
f you have the time and the cash, apply for the program for the upcoming summer. If you are a little late in being able to participate in the internship program, the Assembly could always use a couple of bucks to keep its operations going.