Youth Corps for me was one of the most incredible experiences I have had in my life so far. It was about stepping out of my comfort zone and getting on a plane not knowing what to expect for the next 6 weeks. It was living in a house with 12 strangers and bonding with each one of them. It was an amazing opportunity to live in my country and not be a tourist. It was walking to camp each morning and having these amazing children run up to you and hug you with huge, beautiful smiles on their faces. It was about forming bonds with incredible children. Most importantly, it was about falling in love with my homeland. A day has not gone by where I don’t think about Armenia and the experience I had there with Youth Corp. I can honestly say I have been planning my trip back to Armenia since before I even left Armenia. Youth Corps was an unforgettable experience that I encourage EVERYONE to take advantage of.
With just 2 days left for the application deadline… Don’t hesitate, take the initiative and apply.
Going to Armenia this summer was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. Growing up, over the summers I would always go to AYF camp. Being a camper for about seven years and a counselor for one, I had memorized the daily schedule, and every day the whole camp would be divided into garmeer gabooyd and narunchakooyn to compete. For some of the things at our jampars we did the same thing, so I was reminiscing about AYF camp while these new kids were just learning about the color competition. Every day when we would line up, it was a favorite part of my day to go through the boys and girls lines and get them energized while yelling out “NARUN-CHA-KOOYN !!” The kids would get so excited and it would make me have the biggest smile on my face.
Whether it was stepping (literally and figuratively) into things I had never stepped into before in Javakhk, attempting, as a self-proclaimed klutz, to walk on unpaved roads in Gyumri, sleeping on top of a box in a “Gazelle” on the way back from Shushi, jumping off a wall to take a cool picture in Noravank, living with and sharing everything with people I had never met before, visiting places I had never heard about before, or swimming in green water in two different places, Youth Corps 2011 for me was all about new experiences, which could not have happened without the friends I made. “Friends” is just not a strong enough word to describe how I feel about these people, so I refer to them as family. My family is not just the 25 people from the US and Canada who participated in the program, but everyone else we met there as well. It includes the host families who opened their homes to us, the ungerner who opened their lives and experiences to us, making sure this summer was the best it could be not just for the kids, but for us as well, and of course the hundreds of campers we met! We each had a personality that contributed to the craziness of our family. They’ll tell you that I was the clumsy crybaby. I cried for hours every time we left a city because we were leaving part of our family behind. This new family taught me more about myself than I had learned in the 19 years prior to the trip. I now know that I can travel to the other side of the world; live with strangers who after laughing at me for tripping over something for the millionth time will always help me up; climb to the tops of mountains (again, literally and figuratively); work with kids everyday; do laundry with only one unfortunate incident of everyone’s clothes turning green; and, of course, live in Armenia. I didn’t know any of this before the trip, and I learned it all with a little help from my friends.
Q & A with Director, DVD Signing, and Cocktail Reception to Follow Screening
DATE: Thursday, April 5
TIME: 7 10 PM
LOCATION: Hollywood Armenian Center (1611 N. Kenmore Ave., Los Angeles, CA)
ADMISSION: Free and Open to the Public
The With Our Soldiers campaign aims to raise awareness about the history, figures and key developments in the Artsakh liberation struggle.
As part of this campaign, the AYF is teaming up with the UCLA Armenian Students’ Association, Glendale College Armenian Student Association, and ARF “Shant” Student Association for a screening of Roger Kupelians award-winning documentary, Dark Forest in the Mountains.
“Dark Forest in the Mountains” chronicles the history of Artsakh and the lead up to the liberation struggle using a mix of digital animation, on-the-ground footage and expert interviews. It also features gripping first-person accounts from those involved in the struggle.
The event will also feature a special presentation of the film’s sequel, “Hands and a Homeland,” which picks up where the documentary left off, featuring interviews with those involved in the war 10 years later.
I chose to share this picture, because it shows the unity between all of us, on the banks of Javakhk’s lakes, looking towards to horizon and making a pledge to never forget any one of our people and to always fight for what is good and right. We are our country’s future and standing there, linked together, we look to be the unbreakable chains that bind our people together. Im anoune Hayasdan e, yeghpors anoune Artsakh, ou krochs anoune Javakhk! If you wish to not only experience Armenia and Artsakh, but Javakhk as well, sign up now for a once in a lifetime opportunity at www.ayfyouthcorps.org/apply hurry, time is running out, 11 days left til the deadline!
When people ask me about my experience with AYF Youth Corps I’m usually at a loss for words! Not because I don’t know what to say, but because their are too many things. Instead of explaining how great my summer went, I would encourage everyone to go themselves and experience the best summer of their life like I did. So if you want to find out for yourself, head on over to www.ayfyouthcorps.org/apply and fill out your application now, March 31st is the deadline!
The Armenian Youth Federation Western Region is now accepting applications for the 2012 AYF Nanor Krikorian Memorial Scholarship, a merit based award for high school and college students seeking financial aid to further their education.
We are pleased to have the opportunity to financially assist hard-working students who not only strive to achieve academic excellence but also display outstanding activism within their communities while making significant, progressive changes, says AYF Central Executive member Sanan Haroun.
The scholarship awards graduating high school seniors and college students of Armenian descent grants to fund their pursuit of higher education. Scholarship awards of $1000, $500, and $250 are given annually to qualified students who go through the application process and show exemplary merit. Particular emphasis is placed on a students public service and extracurricular activities in the community.
The AYF will always continue to encourage and support bright minds whose intelligence surpasses the scope of the classroom and digs deep into the grassroots level within the community, added Haroun.
The application requires the form, a personal statement, and two letters of recommendation. Applications must be postmarked or submitted online by April 15th, 2012. For questions or more information, contact the AYF Office at (818) 507-1933.
Managed by the AYFs Educational Committee, the Nanor Krikorian Memorial Scholarship was established in March of 2003 in memory of AYF member Nanor Krikorian, whose life was tragically cut short due to cancer.
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.
After the camps wrapped up and after the long, sad flight back home from Armenia, the most common theme among the 2011 AYF Youth Corps participants was having the ability and confidence to say, “I made a difference.” Whether it be one child or twenty, I know I had some type of influence on them and felt I made an impact.
This is what the AYF Youth Corps program is all about: making a difference. Not only on the campers but also, unknowingly, on yourself. It’s about discovering a life outside of the comfort of your bubble; finding out how independent and strong-willed you really are; and, by learning something new every day, to empower the people around you.
By the time six weeks pass, the program leaves you with an improved version of yourself, constantly seeking new ways to continue improving. Your bubble will burst; you’ll see life in a new way and realize there’s more to the world than your surroundings.
To be able to live in Armenia is an experience all on its own. Six weeks may be short, but in reality it’s just enough time to plant roots in the country, yearning to do more once you come back. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself planning your return trip while you’re still in the program. It becomes an addiction that’s worth being dependent upon.
Today, eight months later, I still remember the ecstatic looks on our camper’s faces every morning, the words of gratitude for our time spent with them, and the gripping hugs the day our session was over. These children become a part of you, the people you see on a daily basis become your friends and family, and the country becomes your home. I smile just thinking about it, and whenever I speak to someone about my experience, I end up trying to convince them to apply as well.
So I leave you with this: if you’re seeking a change from your ordinary ritualistic life, drop what you’re doing and apply to the Youth Corps program. You get so much more out of it than you put in, while making a difference that will echo for years to come.
So believe in yourself and apply today. Believe that you can be the change that is so desperately needed, and constantly tell yourself, “I can make a difference.”