By Stepan Keshishian
ANDOVER, Mass.—The Armenian Youth Federation-YOARF Eastern Region USA held its 77th annual Senior Convention from Dec. 26-30 in Andover. The event was hosted by the North Andover “Sassoun” Chapter and proved to be a very successful event.
Despite the severe weather conditions, over 40 AYF members arrived from across the Eastern United States to serve as delegates from their respective chapters. As administered by an elected tivan, the conference ran day and night during the five-day break between Christmas and New Years, usually beginning first thing in the morning and continuing past midnight. These 40-plus members vigorously discussed many of the essential and elemental issues and topics concerning the AYF and the Armenian community, such as Hai Tahd and political activism, the organization’s educational means and outreach, the importance of public relations and coalition building, community involvement and social development, a strong athletic merit through teamwork and individual commitment, the development and strengthening of ties with our Junior organization as well as the ARF, and other vital aspects of the organization.
Representatives from the other two North American AYF regions also participated in the convention; Arek Santikian from the Western Region USA Central Executive and Rupen Janbazian from the Canadian Region Central Executive. Although it is not the first time that representatives from other regions have taken part in a Convention, this particular instance was seen as a milestone—it symbolized a newly engaged effort to strengthen tri-regional relations for our youth to work more efficiently toward the fulfillment of our collective goals as Armenians.
Throughout the day, the participants broke for lunch and dinner, giving them an opportunity to retreat into smaller groups to relax and enjoy each other’s company. In most cases, this would led to passionate conversations about the topics and issues dealt with during the Convention.
On the final evening, the Merrimack Valley and Lowell ARS Chapters jointly hosted a dinner at St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church in North Andover, inviting the Convention participants in with open hearts and, of course, homemade Armenian food.
This annual Convention is a true testament of the limitless potential of our youth, and the skills and values learned through such an experience can undoubtedly be recognized as a foundation for many of their successes in life. Taking part in a meeting where they learn to assess each other’s ideas with mutual respect and under the discipline of parliamentary procedures is a truly remarkable experience, and one that will irrefutably shape these current and future leaders of the Armenian Cause.
Group photo by Keshishian. All other photos by Tom Vartabedian.