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. Its 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; youll see life in a new way and realize theres 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 its just enough time to plant roots in the country, yearning to do more once you come back. Dont be surprised if you find yourself planning your return trip while youre still in the program. It becomes an addiction thats worth being dependent upon.
Today, eight months later, I still remember the ecstatic looks on our campers 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 youre seeking a change from your ordinary ritualistic life, drop what youre 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.