BY GAIANEH AVANESSIAN
GLENDALE— Established in 2010, the Armenian Youth Federation’s Karekin Njdeh Future Leaders Program has quickly become one of the organization’s most acclaimed initiatives. During the 8-week long internship, participants are given an inside look at the AYF, gaining experience in working for a non-profit organization, leading projects, and compiling research.
“Through the Karekin Njdeh internship program, the AYF is paving the way for young Armenians to advance themselves and their nation,” said AYF Central Executive member and internship coordinator Niree Kodaverdian.
Concluding the Spring 2011 session of the program with her final presentation, Nairi Bagramian, is now the third intern to become a Karekin Njdeh “Future Leader.” A La Cañada resident and biology student at Glendale College, Bagramian has always had a passion for helping the community. While at Crescenta Valley High School she was deeply involved in the school’s Armenian Club, raising funds for underprivileged children in Shushi. She was also involved in politics, volunteering for the ANC on multiple local, state, and national elections.
“Even though I wasn’t an AYF member, I chose to participate in this program because I was concerned about the well-being of the local Armenian American community in which I live, and abroad in Armenia,” said Bagramian. “I learned valuable leadership, activism and career building skills which will help me in the future”.
During the course of the internship Bagramian was given a multitude of unique hands-on projects. She researched effective outreach methods to further enhance the AYF’s reach into the community. She also researched past Armenian Genocide resolutions, noting their origins and journey through the US Congress. She compiled her research into a presentation for use in educating the public about resolutions regarding the Genocide.
Every week Bagramian received educationals from Central Executive members, training her on various aspects of being a leader. Also, as part of the internship, Bagramian volunteered as a math and science tutor for the AYF and ANC’s tutoring program in Glendale.
With her interest in biology and medicine, Bagramian’s final project focused on Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF), a disease which largely affects people of Armenian descent. The origin of this disease is of interest to both Armenians and Turks because it suggests which ethnicity is indigenous to the Armenian Plateau. Bagramian researched studies conducted by international laboratories confirming that Armenians, more than any other ethnicity, are carriers of the original gene mutation which causes FMF.
“Having scientific evidence about FMF linking Armenians to their native lands can be used as leverage to reinstate our people as the rightful owners of those lands and gain reparations from Turkey,” expressed Kodaverdian. “It is important that FMF be on the frontline of research by Armenian research groups, especially given that Turkey is making concerted efforts to thwart international findings that might confirm Armenians as the original inhabitants of the now-eastern Turkey lands.”
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the United States, working to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.