Three months ago, sitting in the terminal at LAX, I wrote a blog entitled “Janabar” marking the beginning of the 2011 AYF Youth Corps program. Now, looking back on our group, the 25 different individuals, the 25 different backgrounds and personalities, the 5 different camp sessions, the 6 weeks of volunteer work, the over 600 kids whose lives were touched, I can only think about what’s next.
The participants of the program this year left Armenia having seen Yerevan, having lived in Gyumri, having lived in Shushi, having lived in Stepanakert, having lived in Broshyan, and having seen Javakhk. They left Armenia with a deeper understanding of its realities. They left Armenia with hundreds of photos, and thousands of memories. Most importantly they left Armenia with longing; longing to return home.
The Youth Corps program has a special place in the hearts of every single one of its participants ever since 1994. The alumni of this program continue to work for the Armenian community and the Armenian homeland as a result of the heartfelt connections they made while they were participants.
I sincerely hope that passionate, driven, and motivated youth continue to choose to see Armenia through Youth Corps. In the future this program will keep growing, it will keep expanding to more and more cities, and it will continue providing the fodder to light the fire inside new generations of Armenian youth who want to strengthen their ties to our homeland.
Our future as a people must be within our borders. The idea of Tebi Yerkir starts with a shift of mindset towards our homeland, and is followed by our physical presence. Seeing and understanding the country firsthand, through programs like Youth Corps, is an excellent way to dig beyond the surface and bridge the distance between the diaspora and the homeland.
Please continue to follow our work, support our fundraisers and apply to next year’s program.