By Meghri Der Vartanian
When I was younger, my cousins would leave our family dinners to go to an AYF meeting. I couldn’t wait for the day that I could go too! I imagined them being at the State House with gavels, having constant arguments about how we can change the world for the better. Well, AYF Convention is something like that. Instead of being at the State House, we were at a hotel in Northbrook, Ill., and we don’t argue about how to change the world but how to make the Armenian Youth Federation the strongest organization it can be.
I hadn’t given much consideration to attending Convention until I experienced my first general meeting as an AYF-YOARF Senior. When I was nominated to participate as a delegate, I was hesitant to attend, as I didn’t think I was ready. I quickly decided that if my chapter wanted me to be one of their delegates, if they believed I was capable of representing the Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter, then I had to be their voice the best I could.
The 31 delegates, representing 11 chapters, who gathered at the 82nd annual AYF-YOARF Convention in Northbrook were professional and productive throughout the long weekend. The meeting began on Dec. 26, with the opening of the Convention, the highest legislative body of the AYF Eastern Region. The body elected its committees for the next few days, reviewed the rules of parliamentary procedure, and explained the processes and agenda. At this point an informal introduction was conducted between all the members to further enhance the camaraderie of the ungers in the room.
The Convention discussed a variety of topics that pertain to our nation as well as some of the struggles our region faces in day-to-day activities. Presentations were given by Hayg Oshagan, chair of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Eastern Region Central Committee, Nairee Hagopian of the Armenian Relief Society, Paul Kokuzian from Homenetmen, Jeffrey Hagopian regarding the AYF Olympics Governing Body, and Steve Mesrobian regarding the ANCA Eastern Region and AYF Camp Haiastan. The AYF-YOARF would like to once again thank those guests for taking time out of their busy schedules to speak to our delegates.
The delegates enjoyed a warm welcome and a wonderful meal prepared by the Chicago Armenian community on Sunday night, exactly what we needed after sitting in a sterile conference room for days.
Based on the conversations—which included topics like the importance of our Juniors, the crisis in Syria, and the role of the AYF in our communities—the Convention delegates wrote and passed many resolutions that will shape the programs and projects of our organization in the coming year and will challenge our membership to continue to reach for our goals in new and interesting ways.
The final task of the Convention was to elect a new Central Executive (CE). The newly elected CE is comprised of Hrag Arakelian (Providence “Varantian” Chapter), Carnie Armenian (Greater Boston “Nejdeh”), Kenar Charchaflian (Worcester “Aram”), Avi Keshgegian (Philadelphia “Sebouh”), Nairi Khachatourian (Greater Boston “Nejdeh”), Ara Sarajian (New Jersey “Arsen”), and Garo Tashian (Providence “Varantian”).
Although I’ve heard it many times, it wasn’t until we began that it hit me: This group of members at the 82nd Annual AYF-YOARF Convention is the highest body of our organization. Over the years, I have constantly been told that I have a voice, that my voice matters, and that I would be able to make a change in this organization, but it wasn’t until Convention that I realized the truth of this statement. Each and every member in our organization has a different strength that they bring to the table, and all our different opinions and ideas brought together are what make the AYF-YOARF unlike any other organization. Not only do I consider everyone in that room my unger, I also look at each one as my role model.