A new generation of young Armenian American advocates joined with veteran activists and ANCA staff in welcoming the incoming 116th Congress, visiting U.S. Senators and Representatives during a day of swearing-in ceremonies and celebrations across Capitol Hill.
“Welcoming the most diverse Congress in history was an excellent way to introduce the ANCA’s youth advocates to longtime Congressional champions like Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and educating freshman members about our Armenian American policy priorities,” said ANC New Jersey’s Ani Tchaghlassian, who led a group of university and high school students, many active with the local Hamazkayin Dance group, AYF, and Homenetmen. “For many in our group, advocacy was limited to sending letters, making phone calls and, in some cases, volunteering at local offices. This trip to DC, the first of many future trips, gave them an insider’s view of how Congress works and, perhaps inspired a few to look into future public policy career options.”
During their two-day stay, advocates met Armenian American Congressional staffers, many alumni of the Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program. They also received briefings on ANCA issues, training on helpful advocacy do’s and don’ts, and a review of the ANCA's youth empowerment programs including the Leo Sarkisian Summer Internship and the Gateway Program.
“It was an honor to work closely with the ANCA and experience the true meaning of grassroots through meeting and conversing with individuals of power during this momentous occasion,” commented Nairi Diratsouian following the visit.
Tvene Baronian concurred, noting, “It was important for us as young Armenians to spend our time advocating for our cause at the U.S. Capitol in DC and being given the opportunity to be a part of a very historic moment.”
Vano Arouche explained that “It was a great opportunity to see the Capitol and influence people who might shape the future of our country and foreign affairs.” Similarly, Garine Koushagjian shared that it was a “privilege to be able to visit be able to visit DC during this historic moment.”
The 116th Congress includes over 160 ANCA endorsed legislators with proven records of support for Armenian American policy concerns. Over 90 new Senate and House members have joined them, offering an opportunity for community education on a broad range of priorities from growing U.S.-Armenia relationship to independence for the Republic of Artsakh and .justice for the Armenian Genocide. Among the freshman members is Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), the great-grandson of Armenian Genocide survivors, who, along with Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA), are the three Armenian Americans serving in the 116th Congress.