Last week, Arsen walked in to Camp Martuni with a bright blue temporary tattoo on his left hand. I told him I want one, and sure enough, the following day, he walked in with a tattoo for me. The tattoo took four tries to stamp on. The image was a Barbie doll, my favorite childhood toy. It lasted in its full form for three days, and every day it faded more and more.
This temporary tattoo was originally a symbol of friendship between Arsen and me, but it later turned into a symbol of this program and my trip. We are all temporary tattoos that these kids experience for two weeks. Ten days are spent learning from each other and sharing experiences. For two weeks, I am not Diaspora and they are not deghatsi, but we mesh into an awkward in-between. I attempt to speak their dialect, and they make fun of mine. I teach them how to make a lanyard, and they teach me the rock game. The two weeks are magical and nothing short of amazing. EVER. Then we leave… We spend a few weeks exchanging Facebook messages with our favorite kids and then the messages slowly fade, and so do we.
We are temporary tattoos, and although our residue exists for a while, we leave and they stay. They remember how to make lanyards, but can’t continue making them because lanyard strings are not available in Armenia. They remember the songs, until they learn a new one at school. They keep the memory of the epic soccer game, until they have a new memorable soccer game.
But is all we’re doing really temporary? When I leave, will Arsen resume his life prior to camp? As an individual I may be temporary, our games and activities are temporary, but we exist under an ideology and a global organization that continues to facilitate our influence. We are fortunate to be the youth of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, because our work is not temporary. Our work started in 1890 and will never end as long as the youth of our nation is motivated.
— Arpa Hatzbanian
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