AYF: The Present and the Future

Special to the Armenian Weekly 

Have you ever stared the future right in the face? I bet you have.

For nearly all of my life, I was convinced that I was the future. That I would be the one to someday take hold of our beautiful AYF (Armenian Youth Federation) and steer it this way or that.

“Have you ever stared the future right in the face? I bet you have.”

And while that may have been true for some time, I’ve come to realize that I am no longer the future of our organization. I am the present.

I am the person I will be, and I have contributed to what the AYF is today—at this very moment. I have made my mark. I have found my place.

I am proud to be the present, and I look upon the future with great optimism. It looks something like this:

It has chubby little fingers that will one day raise the Armenian and American flags high over AYF Camp Haiastan.

It is just learning to use its voice—cooing, awing, and oohing so that one day it will laugh, sing, and pray along with the rest of New Armenia.

It is instructed to hold a pencil and follow the dotted line so that one day it will sign petitions for peace, for change, for recognition, for justice.

It waddles through the kiddie race so that one day it will stand proudly atop the podium at Senior Olympics—first place.

It wears chapter gear much too large knowing one day those T-shirts will fit and by then they will be considered vintage.

It taste-tests smushed up bananas and peas and carrots so that one day it will be ready for eetch and beoreg and kebab.

It was gifted names like Alexan, Sarkis, Raffi, Aleen. Names that one day it will insist are pronounced correctly.

It claps along cheerfully to silly nursery songs so that one day it will keep time with a complex ten-eighths time signature at a barahantes.

It sits still atop its great-grandparents’ laps reaching up to touch wrinkles and smile lines, listening carefully to stories of the past that will again be shared by the future.

Its room is ornate with Armenian books and blocks and a banner that will one day be draped around its shoulders and walked through Times Square on April 24.

It leaps from couches onto living room floors so that one day it will be ready to compete in Junior Athletic Games (JAG) hosted by its home chapter.

It is dunked in holy water and dressed in white so that one day it will sit and stand, sit, and stand with the rest of the congregation on Sundays.

It asks why and it continues to ask why to the annoyance of its parents so that one day it will pose meaningful questions and critiques at AYF Convention.

It is growing and changing and learning every day so that one day it, too, will be the present, and so that I can become a part of the AYF’s great past.


Arev Dinkjian

Arev Dinkjian grew up in an Armenian household in Fort Lee, N.J. She was constantly surrounded by art whether it was by her musical father and grandfather, Ara and Onnik, or her creative mother Margo. Arev attended Providence College starting in 2011 and graduated with a degree in elementary and special education. She enjoys teaching language arts to her students most, and takes great pride in instilling an appreciation for literature in her classroom. Today, she remains very active in the Armenian community, serving as the president of the N.J. AYF “Arsen" Chapter, a member of both the Bergen County ARS and the Sts. Vartanantz Ladies’ Guild, and on numerous AYF central committees. She also dedicated many summers to AYF Camp Haiastan, which she says remains her favorite topic to write about.


A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.
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  1. Very insightful. Impressive that you think of the next generation while emerging into the beginning of your present.
    Thank you. I am sure you will inspire many of the future.

  2. Well said. I love this article and waiting anxiously for my hard copy Weekly to arrive.
    ALSO! Must comment on yur previous article regarding Armenian “old” guys going to breakfast.
    I encourage MORE news about Armenians in the USA.

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