Angelina Mkrtychyan: An Armenian Advocate 

Q: What is happening right now?

Mkrtychyan: Right now, Artsakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh is being attacked by two of its neighboring countries, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Artsakh is an ancient country, centuries old, and indigenous land to Armenian people. During the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin illegally gifted Soviet Artsakh to Soviet  Azerbaijan. At the collapse of the Soviet Union, the people of Artsakh had a democratic vote for independence and self determination. 

Azerbaijan, a country only 115 years old, is pushing the narrative of taking back “their land” as a cover to kill Armenians. But, they are not only attacking this land. They have also attacked villages on Armenia’s border and even sent war drones to Yerevan, the country’s capital (which was thankfully shot down before it could do any damage). 

This is an extreme humanitarian crisis. There are many signs that prove this was a calculated attack while the world is busy with COVID-19 and US elections. 

Why is this a big deal? If they take Artsakh, they will absolutely try to take Armenia. President Erdogan (dictator of Turkey) has said “we will continue to fulfill this mission, which our grandfathers have carried out…” He is talking about the Armenian Genocide of 1915 where 1.5 million Armenians were killed and which is still denied to this day. People aren’t helping because they don’t think it affects them. Turkey does not plan on stopping at Armenia. They are looking to expand their reach to gain full control of the Caucasus, which will have detrimental effects across Europe and America. There are already terrorist attacks in Vienna and France and they have already made unofficial threats to America… Where will it end?

Photo Credits: Angelina Mkrtychyan
Photo Credits: Angelina Mkrtychyan

Q: How does it personally affect you?

Mkrtychyan: It affects me because most of my family lives in Armenia and are currently in danger. Some of my cousins have even been drafted into the war. But they’re not the only ones, Armenians around the world are being attacked (including in California) so I am even in danger. Last week in France, Turks marched down the streets of Lyon and Dijon looking for Armenians. It is the worst feeling to wake up every morning, check the updates and hear that more young soldiers have died, more civilians have been bombed, and still no one helps us.

Q: How is history repeating itself, and why do you think it's happening?

Mkrtychyan: In 1915, Turkey commited genocide and killed 1.5 million Armenians. When the Soviet Union was formed, Turkey made a deal with Russia which led to the creation of Azerbaijan. But Armenians lived in peace with Azerbaijan, even though part of that land that made up their newly formed country was Armenian. Then, in the 1980’s anti-Armenian hate rose and the killings started again. My parents and their families BARELY made it out alive. My mom is still close with a few of her childhood Azeri friends and one of them, who still lives in Azerbaijan, was trying to explain to her son that Armenians are good people and that the government is brainwashing you, but he wouldn’t listen and called his own mother a traitor to the country. This deadly history keeps repeating itself because the Armenian genocide hasn’t been recognized; Turkey has gotten away with it and does not think anyone will stop them if they try to finish it. 

Q: How are you using your voice to advocate?

Mkrtychyan:  I am of course posting lots of information and attending every peaceful protest but the problem is that no one cares. Since I started posting, 250 people have stopped watching my stories, which is insane. I understand they may be tired of seeing something that’s irrelevant to them, but I’m tired of seeing my people die. 

Q: What do you want people to do, how can the youth take action?

Mkrtychyan: There are a few things that people can do to help. First of all, educate yourself on what is really happening, but know that there will be lots of false information from Azerbaijanis, Turks, and the companies they have paid off. There are only 10 mil Armenians worldwide and 135 million Turks and Azeris worldwide, so it’s very easy for them to outnumber us with misinformation. If you can, donate to @armeniafund , we are incredibly outnumbered and underfunded. There are also many petitions to sign and you should also contact your representatives and demand them to stop aiding Turkey (dm me and I can tell you exactly what to say).

Photo Credits: Angelina Mkrtychyan

Q: Why do you think there is a lack of media coverage within the United States? 

Mkrtychyan: There has been a lack of media coverage on this topic because it’s not “trendy” and people don’t care because it doesn’t affect them. First, I would like to say that in any English or History class, everytime we talk about something like the Holocoust, we say “how could the world stand by and watch millions of people get murdered?” Well, that’s what’s happening now. Have you ever heard of Assyria? No? It’s because they don’t exist anymore. Turkey wiped them out and is trying to do the same to us, again. Armenians posting about Armenia won’t do enough, but non-Armenians posting about it will hopefully open people’s eyes to see how serious this really is. So please, use your influence to be part of something good. Second, as I mentioned before, the Turkish government will not stop at Armenia and is a danger to the world. This does affect YOU. 

Additional Comments: 

Mkrtychyan: I just want to let everyone know, we are suffering greatly. Many of our brave soldiers are between the ages of 18 and 20, as all men must join the military for two years due to our small population. So many of them have already died that they had to start recruiting older generations, even with the thousand of people across Armenia and the diaspora coming home to fight. We have lost so many and are losing more every day. Mothers dread the day they find out their son has died. Children don’t know where their fathers went. And through all of this, Azerbaijan has a $100 reward for every Armenian head. What’s happening to my home country is inhumane and illegal. Azerbaijan has committed numerous war crimes and nothing is being done to stop them. Please help us before it’s too late.

 My great grandmother faced extinction, my grandmother faced extinction, my mother faced extinction, and now my cousins, sister and I face extinction. So I am on my hands and knees, begging, please help us. If you have ANY questions at all about what is happening, how to to help, want me to explain in greater detail of what’s going on (because there’s a lot more to explain), or anything else, feel free to contact me @angelina.mkrtychyan

  Ava Burnett: A passion for fashion

Q: How did you get into fashion?

Who inspires you?

Burnett: I’ve always loved Fashion. When I was younger I would always dress up in my mom’s clothes and have fashion shows with my older sisters. I would say I am inspired by my grandma and my older sisters. My grandma is epic and  I love her gardening outfits. 

Q: How would you describe your style?

Burnett: This is kind of a hard question for me to answer because I think that my style changes almost every week. I love vintage clothes and grandma fashion but I also think that 90’s and 2000’s clothes are super cute.

Q: Do you feel that your style is an accurate representation of yourself? How do you feel about people making assumptions about people based off of the way they dress

Burnett: I do think that what I wear reflects my personality because since I make a lot of my clothes it's like I'm wearing something perfectly customized to me and what I like. I think that society tries to make people hate on each other based on what kinda clothes and aesthetics they like, which I hate. I think that if someone wants to wear something different or something that isn’t part of today's beauty standards than that awesome. We shouldn’t judge anyone for what they wear. Clothes are meant to express who you are, if everyone is wearing the same things from the same stores then what's the fun in clothing.

Photo Credits: Ava Burnett

Q: Where do you get most of your clothes?

Burnett: I sew a lot of my clothes from scratch, which I love doing. It's really cool wearing something that you know is completely unique to you and that no one else will have. I also thrift probably 70 percent of my closet, I love vintage clothes and there are always some super cool things that you can find at a goodwill or the DI (Deseret Industries). 

Q: Do you ever feel pressure to maintain your style/ always have cute outfits? If so, how do you deal with it?

Burnett: I honestly don’t feel pressured to wear certain clothes. I came to the realization a while ago that the most important thing to wear is your confidence. No matter what you wear there will always be people who don’t like it. So you might as well dress in what makes you happy and comfortable. 

Photo Credits: Ava Burnett

Q: What advice would you give someone who is trying to branch out to a new style?

Burnett: Some advice that I would give to someone would be to wear whatever you want. Whatever style makes you happy is the perfect style for you. And if you're scared that someone is not going to like what you wear you have to remember to prioritize your confidence over someone else's thoughts, because what other people think of you is none of your business. As long as you're confident then you definitely have an epic outfit on. 

Photo Credits: Ava Burnett
Bereket Denslow: Racial Equity Club 

Q: Tell me about the Racial Equity Club?

Denslow: Our Racial Equity club consists of strong-minded individuals who best represent the cause of this club...to educate our community and push for equity and social justice. 

Q: Why did you start the club?

Denslow: My sister, Genet Denslow, and I really wanted to start some form of BSU last year and create a club that really focused on Black Americans and the history behind all the systemic racism. At La Costa Canyon, we realize that our school is not the most diverse. We worried that students who are black or people of color didn’t have a way to connect to each other. Ian Collins, Genet Denslow, and I decided to create a club with the hope of bringing a more real community and understanding to our school. 

Photo Credits: Bereket Denslow

Q: Why do people need to know about this club?

Denslow: Learning about Black history and going deeper into slavery and the Jim Crow Laws is pivotal for students who do not have an understanding of how horrible it was and how certain laws are still practiced today that affect Black Americans. Many students at LCC don’t realize how the things they say and do greatly affect black students and people of color. A lot of the behavior makes other students uncomfortable. Implementing ways to help the students and staff at LCC understand more and the ability to openly discuss it in classes, and at our club meetings is very important.

Q: How do you think this club will better not only LCC, but our community as a whole?

Denslow: This club will not only improve LCC but the attitude in our communities. We hope more people are willing to learn about history that is not taught in school, learn about current events and stand up to microaggressions and social injustice. This will make ALL students, especially black, hispanic, and other people of color, feel more included and safer on our campus. 

Q: What do you do during club meetings? 

Denslow: In our recent club meeting, we discussed current events such as the latest on Breonna Taylor’s case, news of Derek Chauvin’s release, the officer who murdered George Floyd, and Indigenous People’s day. 

Q:  What are your goals for this club?

Denslow: Our main goal is to address the biased Eurocentric curriculum which ignores the history, oppression, and stories of people of color. High school is an optimal time to incorporate anti-racist narratives into the curriculum and into our discussions because it is the last time students will be enrolled in mandatory schooling. We want to make a difference and make LCC a better place.

Photo Credits: Bereket Denslow