This regular column will take a closer look at the Hai Tahd activities taking place in communities within the ANCA Eastern Region by our volunteers.
We had the opportunity last week to speak with Bearj Barsoumian, the leader of ANC of Tennessee, and asked him to shed some insights on the local community and Hai Tahd work there. Though small in numbers, this community has been a steady contributor and asset to the ANCA Eastern Region for many years.
MH: Who is involved with the ANC of Tennessee team?
BB: In Chattanooga and the surrounding area, there are a handful of Armenians, most of whom are active on our issues. Bedrose Daghlian was instrumental in leading lobbying efforts for us in this area. He switched his barber so he could sit in the chair next to Zach Wamp [a former U.S. Representative for Tennessee’s 3rd district] to bend his ear. We attended many events for the Congressman and he went on to become a supporter of Armenian issues.
We also have a prominent local Armenian tailor who has made suits for Senator Bob Corker for the last 20 years. Through his friendship he has been a strong supporter of Armenians. When Senator Corker went to Turkey, he sent his staff to an Armenian church to find out what the needs and concerns are of the Armenians in Turkey.
MH: What has the ANC of Tennessee been up to lately?
BB: We had a great opportunity to meet Bill Frist [the majority leader of the U.S. Senate from 2003-07]. His college roommate happened to be Armenian, so he was knowledgeable about a lot of our issues.
MH: What’s your background with the Armenian community? Tell me more about yourself.
BB: I have always tried to align myself with people that can help get things done locally and have been to Washington to lobby several times and to meet with my Congressmen. I am active in the Republican Party here and the local Tea Party. I do a lot of work on local campaigns and attend many political events on behalf of Armenian issues. I’m active in the Armenian church of Nashville.
MH: What do you want to see the ANCA do more of locally?
BB: Our goal is to prepare and educate younger generations to lobby, run for political office and be involved to make change happen.