By Mari Tikoyan
Washington, DC “Ani” Chapter
More than 100 young people from the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Western Region, Eastern Region, Canada, Australia and even South America participated in this year’s Penta Regional Seminar at AYF Camp in southern California earlier this month. Members participated in informative lectures and group discussions about topics ranging from the Velvet Revolution, Hai Tahd, homeland initiatives, AYF camps, public relations and regional characteristics and differences.
Carmen Ohanian, a 35 year ARF member, served as director. Ohanian serves on the Central Committee of the ARF in the Western Region and was one of the few women present at the ARF World Conference. Ohanian is a key figure in the Armenian community in the Western Region and has been an inspiring leader for young women to join the ranks and actively seek positions within the party.
Having participated in this Regional Seminar before, this time around left a different impression. On our final night at AYF Camp, we spent the night around a campfire singing Heghapoghagan songs with Arick Gevorkian, who played the accordion while passionately singing our songs. When the crowd would die down, he always knew what song to sing or how to reinvigorate everyone.
Later in the evening, Puzant Berberian felt compelled to start talking about the importance of females in the ARF. He used Ohanian as an example and highlighted different fedayis like Sose Mayrig who helped further the cause and fight for the homeland. Berberian’s message inspired everyone in the room in the singing of Seropin Yev Sosseyin Yerkuh. Berberian said said that the future of the ARF and our organization lies within its young people; one day, he said he hopes for everyone in the room to become ARF members and fervently serve our communities as best as possible.
Personally, Penta Regional Seminar was a source of motivation to be more involved in my Armenian community, the AYF and the ARF. It inspired me to seek more leadership positions and to increase diversity in our organization, which is only as good as its members. I urge all members to take advantage of these types of educational opportunities in the future and be more supportive members in their local communities. Challenge yourself and seek leadership positions. Speak up, and make your voice heard.