Monday was the first day of the last week of Jampar. It sounds as weird as it feels. Weird in the sense that next Monday, instead of walking to Jampar in the morning, I’ll be sitting on a plane headed back to Los Angeles. Weird in the sense that I won’t wake up next to the same people I’ve lived with over the past six weeks. And especially weird in the sense that I won’t spend everyday from 10:00am to 4:00pm with some of the most amazing kids in the world.
With that said, AYF Youth Corps has been one of the greatest adventures of my life. I’ve done things that I would not have imagined doing in my life, like crossing a suspension bridge in Artsakh’s mountains or riding a horse in Gyumri’s delicious fish restaurant. AYF Youth Corps has taught me to be more open-minded and to try everything at least once. It seems that these life lessons I’ve learned over the last six weeks will stay with me for years to come.
The end of camp is bittersweet. It’s bitter because we won’t see the kids anymore of course, but more importantly it’s bitter because those kids are genuinely disappointed that camp is almost over and they have to wait another year to come have this amazing experience again. It is sweet because the impact we make on these kids lives is so visible. Even though there is still a whole 4 days left, the kids are already wanting exchange contact information and constantly asking me “Ungeruhi Areni myoos tari piti gas che?” (Ungerouhi Areni, you will come back next year right?) I can’t deny that our campers misbehave and drive us crazy most of the time; however, every morning we all still greet each other with smiles because we have built unique relationships with one another. We are not their parents, we are not their teachers; we are their older brothers and sisters, we are now friends from different sides of the world who will never forget one another.
This last session of camps are dedicated to our Ungers Allen Yekikain and Sose Thomassian-Yekikian. Allen and Sose were a very big part in creating and developing this AYF Youth Corps camp program and their untimely departure has left us with very big shoes to fill. Regardless of the fact that some of the participants from our group may not have personally known these two, all of us are now a part of the work being done to uphold their legacy. With these last four days of camp ahead, we will do our absolute best to build the bridge with our homeland through our relationships with these incredible kids.