SCHWENKSVILLE, Pa. (A.W.)—Year after year, hundreds of Armenian Youth Federation (AYF-YOARF) members gather on Memorial Day Weekend for AYF Junior Seminar. This Memorial Day Weekend, over 400 juniors and seniors came together at a new location, Camp Kweebec in Schwenksville, for another fun-filled and educational weekend. Lectures and activities were centered around this year’s theme of “Inspire Our Youth, Empower Our Leaders.”
Educational lectures were given by Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) members, AYF alumni, and community members, all in an effort to further educate the AYF-YOARF’s Junior membership on how to use their strengths to successfully be a leader.
On Friday, members arrived by the busloads and settled into their cabins. During the night activity, each chapter was assigned a theme, such as “Armenian Uber Driver” or “Armenian vs. American Scenarios,” and performed a skit conveying that.
On Saturday, participants split up into their lecture groups and participated in an educational program put together by the Junior Seminar Committee. The series of lectures included the following topics: Youth Leaders (unger Anto Avedissian); Progression of the Armenian Government (unger Dikran Kaligian); Armenian Women on the Front Lines (ungerouhi Yeghisapet Chouldjian); History of the AYF-YOARF (unger Ara Surenian); History of the Independence (unger Zohrab Khaligian); ARF’s Role Then and Now (unger Greg Bedian); Leadership Roles in the AYF Now (unger Phil Nigon); Hidden Leaders (unger George Aghjayan); and Leadership through the Armenian Weekly (Armenian Weekly assistant editor Karine Vann).
“Seminar was a fun experience with a lot of engaging lectures and opportunities to make new friends,” said first-timer ungerouhi Alidz Karakachian, Manhattan.
“I really liked the lectures because they were really interesting and they weren’t just a boring thing. I also got to meet a bunch of people, both old and young,” another first-timer, ungerouhi Lori Sakayan explained.
Twenty-four 17-year-old AYF members took part in their own lecture series, the Leaders in Training (LIT) Program, which emphasizes the importance of leadership skills and applying those skills as seniors in AYF. The LITs were directed by AYF alumnus and former AYF-YOARF Central Executive Chair unger Raffi Hovagimian and AYF alumnus and former Junior Seminar Committee (JSC) member ungerouhi Tsoler Avedissian.
The Saturday night activity consisted of a secret Escape Room Game, in which Junior members were split into groups and had to collaborate to escape a “locked” room. Following the game, everyone came together to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Armenia, with inspiring remarks given by ungerouhi Meghri Dervartanian, followed by the singing of “Sardarabad.”
After a second day of lectures for each of the groups, the weekend came to a close on Sunday night with the highly anticipated dance. All members joined together to dance and shoorchbar (circle-dance) to live Armenian music by unger Alek Surenian, unger Datev Gevorkian, and ungerouhi Beiyna Chaparian. This was followed by junior and senior members coming together to proudly sing revolutionary songs late into the night.
On Sunday, ungerouhi Nairi Khachatourian delivered remarks on behalf of the 2018 Central Executive. She reminded the attendees of their obligation to continue moving the AYF and the Armenian Nation forward and to continue being inspired and being inspirations. With this year’s Junior Seminar being dedicated to the memory of ungerouhi Mary Mooradian, all the participants joined together during the final flag ceremony of the weekend in a moment of silence to remember and honor her as the inspiring ungerouhi that she was.
“Seminar was a good chance to meet new people from other chapters which wouldn’t happen if you stick to your own friends and only stayed with them. You also learn much that you didn’t know before. It helps to get in touch with our Armenian side,” noted first-timer ungerouhi Sirahn Toufayan from New Jersey. Sirahn, along with 85 other first time attendees, were able to go to Seminar for free this year, thanks to a grant from the Armenian Youth Foundation.
Junior and Senior members alike left Junior Seminar prepared to apply their unique skills in any future leadership position they may find themselves.