It’s 5:30 in the morning, and I’m standing outside of my church. It’s still dark. A bus pulls up, and I introduce myself to the driver. We review the trip itinerary for the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Junior Winter Olympics (JWO) as AYF Juniors start to arrive with their parents. It’s 5:30 in the morning and I’m standing outside my church. Here’s why:
- When I was 8 years old, my mom dropped me off at Camp Haiastan. A counselor asked me my name and helped me carry my things to my cabin. She greeted me every day for the two weeks that followed;
- When I was 10, I got in a car accident on my way to an AYF event. An AYF Senior held my hand in the hospital and called my parents to tell them I was all right—hat everything was all right;
- When I was 11 and incredibly insecure, a counselor at Junior Seminar told me I looked beautiful at the dance, even though I had on an oversized sweatshirt, too embarrassed to wear the summer dress I had originally planned on;
- When I was 14, night watch helped me pass notes across the cabin circle, so long as they could read them first. That Saturday, I was snowballed with my crush. Something tells me it wasn’t by coincidence;
- When I was 16, I attended a joint AYF Junior-Senior meeting. A Senior sat right next to me even though there were open seats next to her friends. She told me she was “so excited” for me to become a Senior member;
- When I was 17, an entire room applauded once I echoed, “…and to maintain a fraternal attitude toward all my fellow members at all times.”
I made a promise to myself that day. I promised to help the AYF Juniors in every and any way I could. It’s not some random act of kindness or a truly selfless doing. I made this promise because of the many Seniors before me who did the same, and often without even realizing.
It’s the Ara Sarajians, the Knar Mesrobians, the Tamar Kanarians, the Phil Nigons who I owe it to—who we all owe it to. And I’m sure they owed it to Seniors before them. I am a testimony. They paid their dues and here I am as proof that they succeeded.
I’ll have to wait and see if I did too. Until then I’ll be outside my church at 5:30 in the morning. If you were ever a Junior, you’d know why.