As our first week in Artsakh comes to an end, I look back to the day we were on the road heading to town, not knowing what to expect. We were greeted by the ARF and AYF members of Artsakh, who I am now happy to call my friends. We’ve shared laughs and toasts over dinner at Nigol Touman’s house and worked together with the kids at camp. The support we’ve had from them has been exceptional and has allowed us to run camp more smoothly.
We have molded the jampar in Artsakh after AYF Summer Camp in California, and fortunately, the children are catching on real quick. They all shout their color names and get really excited saying their ganches (group chants). My group, the blue group, chose Dashnak Dro as a name without my influence, if I might add. This meant a lot to me since I am a part of the AYF Dro Chapter.
English lessons are slowly progressing and the children’s participation is exponentially growing. I’m teaching the intermediate class, and throughout the week, we’ve been learning vocabulary words for each letter in the alphabet. Yesterday, many of the kids ran up to me with their notebooks and asked me if what they wrote is correct. To end the week, we had a spelling bee. These kids are always ready to raise their hands and participate, answer a question, or sing a song. Their excitement is truly fulfilling and definitely contagious. Sometimes I catch myself smiling while sitting on the sidewalk watching them play ball. Thinking about how happy these kids are with what little resources they have just melts my heart. I can already feel that this past week and the week to come will be a significant part in both our lives and theirs.
I probably won’t ever forget the hugs I’ve gotten from the little girls who look at me like a role model, or the young boys who high five me after a victory. In addition, our reciprocation means the world to these kids. I think I can speak for all of the Youth Corps participants when I say I’m looking forward to the remaining four weeks!