The Armenian Youth Federation “Garo Madenlian Public Affairs Office” announced Tuesday that on the weekend of April 27 – 29the AYF Western Region held its Annual Educational Seminar at AYF Camp. Participants from eight chapters gathered at AYF Camp to attend the event. The overall aim of the weekend was to convey various new topics currently involving Armenia and Armenians, simultaneously encouraging the members to offer their feedback and opinions.
The director for the weekend was Unger Hovig Saliba, who oversaw the daily events and helped bring together members from all participating chapters, encouraging them to get to know one another and share their ideas.
Saturday morning began with exercise and the raising of the Armenian and ARF flags. After breakfast, the members received their first educational from Unger Hovig Saliba. Unger Saliba who spoke about the life and work of Hrayr Marookhian as well as the history of the Tebi Yergir ideology.
The members received a special educational given by one of our own members, Unger Babken Dergrigorian. He spoke to the participants about the recently passed dual citizenship law in Armenia, as well as updated the participants about the resolution in respect to the Armenian Genocide currently in the United States House of Representatives.
Followed was a presentation by the AYF-WR Central Executive about its Youth Corps program, The program allows young Armenians to spend approximately five weeks in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh supplying the manpower to villages where residents are attempting to rebuild their lives. Aside from supplying real, positive assistance to our brethren in Armenia, participants will experience the homeland in the most meaningful way. Their hard work will become one more building block in the progress of our nation.
Throughout the remainder of the day, members received several opportunities to socialize with fellow members and partake in various activities. Among them, a game of Armenian taboo, where members have their partner guess the word on their card without using the word itself or any additional words listed on the card.
Dr. Viken Yacoubian joined our seminar and gave a very interesting and different approach to activism, speaking about the psychology as to why people are active and the difference between an activist and one who is active, the members then participated in a motivating and heated discussion.
A truly inspirational and deeply saddening slide show presentation was conducted and discussed by Unger Hovan Tashdjian, the presentation was about his recent trip to Western Armenia and the participants were able to compare and contrast what once was remarkable Armenian land marks and the current remains of our destroyed churches and buildings, the foul treatment our cultural artifacts on Turkish soil.
The AYF-WR once again had a very special oath ceremony welcoming new AYF members later in the evening, Ung Viken Yacoubian was introduced the “Gnkahayr” of the evening to lead the oath ceremony. Yacoubian explained that the AYF is a great channel through which young active Armenians can voice their opinion and actually make a difference. In addition, by becoming an AYF member, one must have respect, determination, and a strong dedication towards the organization. Unger Viken then proceeded with the oath ceremony.
Late in the evening, the participants enjoyed a night of khorovadz, and very special singing by Unger Viken. Prepared by the participants themselves, the dinner and songs was yet another opportunity for members to mingle and socialize.
The following morning, the members took part in an educational/discussion about Western Armenia prepared by Unger Aram Kaloustian. Instead of the usual genocide recognition topics the Unger made the participants think about what we are to do if it is recognized and our lands are returned…what then?
The 2007 Educational Seminar proved to be a huge success. Along with receiving important information about relevant topics, participants had the chance to get to know members from other chapters. The participants can now forward the important information they received at this year’s Seminar to their fellow chapter ungers. The AYF looks forward to another successful Seminar next year and hopes that even more members will have the opportunity to attend.
The Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) is the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization. With chapters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the AYF actively advances the concerns of Armenian American youth on a broad range of issues.