BY ROUBINA BOZOIAN
If you had asked me back in early 2019 what my summer plans were, I would never have imagined doing an internship so heavily political and advocacy related like the Armenian National Committee of America’s Leo Sarkisian program. My first year and a half of college, I was an accounting major, but I was simply not interested. I knew I wasn’t going to pursue an accounting internship, but what exactly did I want to do?
In March, 2019, I attended the ANCA Rising Leaders Program and had the chance to explore my own role, as an Armenian, in advancing the important issues that we are facing today. I had originally heard about Rising Leaders through my involvement in the ANC of New Jersey and Hamazkayin of New Jersey. Little did I know that the three-day program would open up a new future for me in a field I didn’t think I would be remotely interested in: politics.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised. Hai Tahd – the Armenian Cause – has been a part of me my entire life. From a young age, I have been listening to the patriotic songs my dad would write and the well-known patriotic songs many have grown up with, and the lyrics truly inspired me. Growing up, I was involved in Armenian dance, choir, scouts, theater, and more.
Before last March, however, anytime I heard the word politics, I would turn my head in the opposite direction. Where did I fit in that world? Then, after experiencing first-hand the power of grassroots advocacy in affecting issues so dear to my heart, I was hooked.
After ANCA Rising Leaders, my heritage became a more important part of my identity and everyday reality. A feeling was planted in me that pushed me to want to take responsibility and play a greater part in our political mission – in Hai Tahd. I had a new desire to be helpful to my culture and people, in demanding and earning our sacred rights. This is where my love of our culture and my newfound passion for politics began to intersect. This is where I decided to apply to the ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship Program.
I sincerely believe that every Armenian should take the opportunity to dedicate a portion of their time to advancing Armenian American priorities. Personally, I believe we, as a people, should feel this sense of responsibility and bring our work and participation to furthering our cause in any way we can. Success is not going to be gifted to us on a silver platter, which is why we should never lose hope and should never stop working towards the bigger picture: a politically and economically viable Armenia, an independent Artsakh, and justice for the Armenian Genocide. The issues and mission do not belong to any one group, but to the entire Armenian nation, both living in the homeland and the diaspora. Working within the ANCA umbrella, and through the Leo Sarkisian internship, I was able to gain a greater understanding of what my personal role is in the larger picture of advancing our Cause.
So, a word of advice to my fellow Armenians beginning your university careers: If you’re ever debating whether or not to try something new, take the chance. I wasn’t happy with my accounting major – so I explored new options and changed to finance.
I never thought I would be interested in politics, but the ANCA’s three-day Rising Leaders program in Washington, D.C., inspired me to look into and soon pick up a second major – political science. In my case, I decided to pick up a second major in order to advance my education in American government and policy, to become a better advocate for the Armenian Cause. My goal and hope during the eight week Leo Sarkisian Internship was to begin the process of strengthening everything I have been working towards my whole life and learn how to translate that into tangible, local action in support of the Hai Tahd mission. I am happy to say the internship did exactly that. As a descendant of survivors of the Armenian Genocide, no matter what path I choose to take in my life, I plan to always prioritize my nation and homeland. The Leo Sarkisian Internship was an important step in doing that.
Roubina Bozoian is a participant of the ANCA Rising Leaders Program, a 2019 ANCA Leo Sarkisian Internship alumnus, and a student at Montclair State University.