For 85 years, the Armenian Youth Federation has been an organization of family, traditions and growth. On Saturday, July 21, 2018 that growth was celebrated by the very families who created those traditions. The AYF-YOARF’s 85th Anniversary Gala brought multiple generations of AYF lifers together in Warwick, Rhode Island for a night of nostalgia, outlook, and a good old fashioned AYF barehantes.
The night began with a cocktail hour. Upon arrival, guests reconnected with old friends and discussed their time in the AYF over drinks and mezze. At the front of the cocktail hour area stood a table curated with AYF memorabilia from years past. Guests flipped through previous Olympic ad books, looked at printed pictures from events past, and read from old AYF song books. On one of the back walls played a slideshow of pictures which hundreds of members submitted of their fondest AYF memories. Along each of the back walls hung informational posters detailing AYF chapters past and present. A step and repeat with the AYF logo and an image of Karekin Nejdeh (the organization’s founder) was the perfect place to capture a group shot of another great AYF event.
After the cocktail hour came dinner and the program, emceed by U. Josh Tevekelian. U. Josh described his experiences within the organization and the lessons it has taught him that have stuck with him to this day. He then introduced the night’s keynote speakers, U. Rosemary Alashaian, U. Shahan Avedian, and U. Nairi Khachatourian. Each speaker represented a different AYF generation in the room. U. Rosemary spoke of her days in the AYF during its relative infancy and creating a family environment for the youth organization. U. Shahan described the lifelong friendships that the AYF fostered along with the organization’s struggle during the times of a non-free and independent Armenia. U. Nairi explained how far the organization has come and how the AYF has affected each of the lives of its members so deeply. After the keynote speakers, U. George Aghjayan gave remarks on behalf of the AYF’s parent organization, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
Once the remarks concluded, the dance portion of the night kicked off. As coffee and dessert were served, a band filled with AYF alumni of different generations got the crowd out of their seats and onto the dance floor. Active and former AYF members alike joined in to dance traditional Armenian line dances. At one point the legendary John Berberian took the stage to perform a guest appearance on the oud. As the dancefloor roared on, attendees continued reminiscing and taking pictures, creating new AYF memories and strengthening old ones. Once the dance ended, an after party was held at a nearby bar where attendees could get in one last drink and bite to eat together before calling it a night.
All in all, the AYF 85th Anniversary Gala was a smashing success. Past, present, and future members old and young gathered to celebrate the organization that has had such an effect on their lives. The spirit of the AYF was palpable throughout the event and the organization’s outlook looks bright. Here’s to another 85 years of the AYF-YOARF!