This year, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) of Australia was invited to be a part of the biennial Tri-Regional Seminar of the AYF Eastern United States, AYF Western U.S., and AYF Canada. The seminar is organized to strengthen ties between the regions and to discuss current issues the Armenian youth face.
During the recent seminar, hosted by the Eastern U.S. organization, we discussed topics such as the Artsakh War; the importance of the diaspora, as well as the need to focus on its future; and becoming the future leaders in our respective regions—all relevant topics to Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) youth today.
As a separate region, we were humbled to be invited. We took the opportunity to meet some ungers (comrades) from overseas, to take part in the seminar, and to strengthen the ties between our region and the North America regions.
We also spent a lot of time together outside of the discussions, creating bonds and a certain trait that exists among AYF members—ընկերութիւն (ungerutiun, or camaraderie). This seminar would thus ensure that the AYF has greater international communication and friendships that would last a lifetime.
The highlight of the trip was something that I had always seen within the AYF but always had a tough time explaining to anyone who was not in the organization or hadn’t fully grasped the true meaning of the word ungerutiun, a word that I used too many times over the past two weeks.
To most people, the word means “friendship,” but it means a whole lot more to my AYF ungers and me. A direct translation would be “camaraderie,” but even that does not fully explain the word when it is used in our context, and it is even harder to write an article about ungerutiun than it is to explain it in person.
In a sense, it is a way of saying “thank you” without needing to say the words, and it’s the word to describe what we do for each other without needing to be asked or expecting anything in return: a bond that is created between ungers, an ungerutiun that is stronger than any friendship.
Arriving a few days before the seminar began, I was always looked after by my ungers from the West and East Coasts and was given all the hospitality needed and a private tour of the Hairenik office in Watertown, which I was looking very forward to before arriving! The ungers ensured that I was comfortable and offered to help me with anything if needed.
All the ungers made us feel extremely welcome and a part of the North America AYFs. We quickly got to know each other and created bonds—mainly through our mutual interests in Armenia as well as the ARF. Wherever an AYF member goes in the world, there will be a natural friendship formed over the Motherland as well as the ideology of the ARF.
Before we had left the seminar, we already had offers from ungers we had met just two days earlier to stay at their homes in the Boston area and Canada; we were offered to be taken out to numerous restaurants, touristic sites, and anything else that we needed to do while we were staying near them. Our ungers would pick us up from wherever we were and then take us back home. They would go out of their way to make sure that everything went smoothly and that we weren’t left without a home or transport and that all our needs were met. We were even offered a lift to Canada if we hadn’t booked a flight… and all of this was done without a second thought. The ungers would offer us their homes and cars without even asking whether we had made any reservations.
Our ungerutiun isn’t something that exists everywhere; in fact, it is extremely rare to find, something I haven’t seen in any other organization that I have been a part of. It is not every man for himself; instead, it’s a collective. We are a family.
These behaviors and favors aren’t ever written or spoken about publicly, it is just something that we do, but I felt that it had to be published. I guess it was my way of saying thank you…
Ungerutiun—a word that I used too many times over the past two weeks, but when my ungers come to Australia, they will be the ones using the word over and over again.