After the AYF Olympics

On Labor Day at 10:19 a.m., AYF alumna and volunteer extraordinaire Tamar Kanarian posted the following words on Facebook: “Home. Let the post-Olympic misery begin.”

This one statement could easily sum up this entire article. For those of us who regularly attend the AYF Olympics, Tamar’s statement captures what many of us feel. She hit the nail right on the head—spot-on! You get the picture.

AYF Athletes releasing tri-color Balloons at the Opening Ceremony
AYF Athletes releasing tri-color Balloons at the Opening Ceremony

There are many reasons for this. Certainly, the most obvious is the exhaustion from a weekend of sleep deprivation and being constantly on the go from event to event, dinner to dinner, dance to ball. When you combine the fatigue with the abrupt return to work or school, the first few days after Olympics can be drudgery bordering on torture. No worries, we catch up on sleep and the work-week, which is mercifully short because of the Labor Day Holiday. By the start of the next week, we are back to normal. This is a routine many of us are used to.

Tamar Kanarian and Angela Aghajanian
Tamar Kanarian and Angela Aghajanian

There is something larger at play here. Tamar’s post touches on something deeper and much more Armenian.

What is deeper here is embodied in William Saroyan’s words we all love so much. We may have read nothing else of the prolific Armenian-American writer, but we have read his quote countless times on posters, plaques, coffee mugs, and t-shirts. In fact, it is on the back cover of this year’s AYF Olympics Adbook. The specific part of the Saroyan quote that applies here is, “For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” This week, many of us met in Dearborn, Mich., and we, collectively, created our own Armenia. The misery mostly comes from the fact that in the Diaspora the New Armenias we create go away—they dissipate when we leave each other. When we meet for a dance, concert, or picnic, we create an Armenia for a few hours. When we gather for the Olympics, we create an Armenia for four days. The Armenia we create at the Olympics is a rather intense Armenia that is simply harder to let go of. Hence, the misery.

Detroit's victory Halay
Detroit’s victory Halay

When we are packing and preparing to head to the Olympics, we are excited because, in meeting and gathering with old friends and making new ones, we know there is a New Armenia about to be created. We know it will be special. We know we will have a wonderful time being around each other and enjoying all the festivities. The Armenian Flag flying over the hotel confirms this and is often the first sign we see. We feel the Armenia we have created from the moment we walk into the hotel and greet people until we have said our last goodbyes and leave the hotel noticing that the flag is no longer flying. Saroyan’s quote resonates with us all for a reason. It is visceral. It is in our hearts and souls. We are not active Armenians by choice; it is part of our core being.

So, around the country, we are all working through our misery. Thankfully, we have all the photos that are being posted on Facebook. We have the Adbook to constantly thumb through, and the forthcoming Armenian Weekly special issue on the AYF Olympics to help.

Thank you Detroit for a great Olympic weekend! I look forward to creating another New Armenia in Providence next year.

Mark Gavoor
Mark Gavoor is Associate Professor of Operations Management in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University in Chicago. He is an avid blogger and oud player.
Mark Gavoor

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