…And oh what a ride it’s been. November 30 came and went and I’m proud to say I am now an alumnus of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF)—an alumni member of the Watertown “Gaidzag” and Greater Boston “Nejdeh” AYF Chapters.
The last 15 years of my life have been eventful, to say the least, thanks in large part to the AYF. To this day, I remember the phone call I received from one of my elementary school friends inviting me to attend this “meeting” after Sunday School. Little did I know I was going to my first AYF meeting and setting myself up for experiences and precious memories to last a lifetime.
As a guest, I recently attended the 76th AYF-YOARF Eastern Region Convention, which was hosted by the Granite City “Antranig” Chapter. This vibrant community hosted an energetic group of youth ready to tackle the challenges the organization faces this upcoming year. Now that my generation has graduated from the AYF, I was relieved to know that there is a group of individuals ready to take care of the organization. So when asked to condense 15 years of memories into a small piece, I had a difficult time bringing them all together since there are so many.
These came to mind…
Junior Seminar 1996. My first Seminar, a stepping stone into my AYF experience. Thank goodness for Josh Tevekelian and Lucy Hoosian for watching over me, orders per my mother. I apparently enjoyed seminar; I haven’t had a free Memorial Day Weekend in 14 years…
Camping at Camp Haiastan, 1996-98. Yes, I did attend 4th session, and no, don’t believe the stereotypes you have heard about those that attended the “not so popular” session.
Medalling at my first Senior Olympics in Detroit, in 2000. I think I convinced myself then that I was an “athlete” and it drove my commitment to start training every June until my very last Olympics.
CJC-2k3. Man did we shape things up. CJC ’04, the Priceless Pep Squad carried the torch.
Camp Haiastan Staff ’03: CHPT ’89 UAB. All those flag raising/lowering ceremonies, lesson plans, and just general fun with campers and staffers. It truly is a magical place.
Joining the Ernest Nahigian class of All Stars, Chicago Olympics, 2004.
2005. Powerful chair, powerful secretary. What a great year with chairman emeritus, the King, and members of the “council.”
The Racine “Armen Garos” hosted a great Olympics. Simply great.
Junior Seminar Committee 2007: World, Hold On. Introducing campers to security, AYF bags, and golf carts.
Junior Seminar Committee 2008: “One of the best, if not the best Seminar.” And that’s coming from veteran lecturers and attendees.
AYF 75th Anniversary: TK/JK/LA, a three-person team that put on a pretty great show.
Dancing my chapter dance at my final Olympics in Providence for a 3rd place finish. A perfect way to end an Olympic career. The “Nejdehs” will always be a Class A team and the best looking team nonetheless.
A number of great Thanksgiving weekend dances at the ACEC. For those that wonder where it went, it will come back.
Birthday cake fights at NAT’s. We went out in style U. Justin…
The non-stop traveling for committee meetings and events. To count the number of nights we’ve all spent in hotels would be pretty difficult.
The constant cleaning, reorganizing, and redecorating of the AYF Office, a near close second home for the last seven years. If I was not at home, I was in Watertown at the office doing all sorts of work. Good times indeed.
Late night office sessions, not complete without a quick bite from the many legendary establishments near the Hairenik Building in Watertown.
My last Convention as a delegate, passing the 1935 wooden gavel that could tell so many stories. It was the moment I was dreading, but know that I added my own story to that list. A pretty memorable one to those who were there.
It’s been a long ride, an interesting ride. There have been many moments of frustration, aggravation, and times where I nearly lost hope. Through it all, I kept going and knew that the work I was doing would benefit so many that cherish the organization and want to see it grow.
All the late nights entering applications, making phone calls, traveling from city to city all paid off. I tell many of my ungers, “Don’t expect the AYF to give to you, you need to give to the organization to receive its benefits.” Those who have passed through the AYF can thank it for the many skills and experiences they now have as a result of their continuous hard work. The AYF helped me get into college and get a job. It helped me find a connection to my homeland and taught me what it means to fight something greater than us. It gave me my friends, it gave me another family. It helped create the person I am today and I can only hope it does the same for those who are, and will become, members of the AYF.
Now I’m an alumnus and ready to assume the role of supporter and advisor, just as I should. The many alumni that have been there for me, my chapter, and the many projects I have had the opportunity to work on, have taught me so well.
I’ll be there on the sidelines cheering on the AYF and those who will dedicate themselves to it.