By Richie Minassian
AYF North Andover “Sassoun” member
Coming into the AYF internship program, I knew I would be meeting a lot of new people and making many new friendships. But I had no clue the extent of how many new people I would be building friendships with. Everyone is told when they go abroad that the new connections you make will last you a lifetime. That statement ended up being beyond accurate. The new friendships I made was over the top, while I also solidified past ones. I made connections with people from all over the world, ranging from France, Lebanon, Australia and here in Armenia. I have always loved meeting new people, being able to laugh with them, go out with them and connect in a way that no one else can understand, being that we are all Armenian. Nothing is going to be more pleasing for me than to be able to look back at this program and know I will be staying in touch with those I had just met, and possibly be seeing them at future AYF events. It’s extremely hard to explain the degree of who and how I met certain people; these relationships have been extremely meaningful to me.
I will first start off with the friends I made in the AYF Internship program. Every single one of us connected in a way that I feel like no one else can. We lived in a house in the center of Yerevan for two months, and we had to pick each other up and support each other every single day. It doesn’t get better than that because you realize the family you have just created. I want to thank Haig Megerdichian, Garen Soukiasian, Aram Parnagian, Anto Markosian, Laura Boyajian and Sam Sjostedt for making this summer one I will always look back on and miss. We have laughed, probably too much, danced, ate Armenian food until our stomachs popped, and driven countless hours in a car together which would get very hostile at times. But in the end, after we have gone through thick and thin for each other, I want to call you my best friends. We probably all have hundreds of stories that we could tell that would make you die laughing on the ground or get you emotional because of how beautiful an excursion was or how important it was for us to be in Javakhk for the kids. Every day was always something new and I want to thank you all for what we have created in this internship.
I have also become very close with people in other programs like AGBU, Birthright and Camp Javakhk. In my internship at the marketing agency Deem Communications, I got the opportunity to work with two other interns from the AGBU and Birthright programs. It was great to know that I wasn’t alone; we all have that same connection of being in internship programs and wanting to give back to the Armenian economy. I think one of the first nights I went out with my program, we ran into all the AGBU interns. I didn’t recognize any of them except for one girl. By just knowing this one girl, we were able to all get introduced to everyone and both our programs became really close. I couldn’t tell you how much fun it was to hang out with the other interns, and even though we were part of two different organizations, we all still shared the same experiences in Armenia.
At Camp Javakhk, it was an experience that truly resembled Armenian pride. I already knew most of the leaders of the Javakhk program that were from the US, but I was able to become very close friends with people I had just met as well. I am pleased to say I can call every single one of them my family, as there was never a dull moment. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much in a week than at Javakhk, not only with the other counselors but with the kids there. Even though I couldn’t communicate with them in Armenian, we still connected on a level that is truly something special. We did everything possible to communicate by making faces, hand gestures, pointing, the list can go on and on. But we always found a way to laugh and have fun and teach each other things that we never knew. Even after Javakhk was over, when we all came back to Yerevan for a couple days, we all still talked and went out together all the time. The relationships we built are going to last forever, and we have already missed each other so much that we’ve been planning on seeing each other at future events like AYF Seniors.
What I just expressed was only a small portion of the friendships that are going to last a lifetime. I am truly grateful for the connections I built and the relationships that were strengthened. It is crazy to think that it is possible to make new friends from anywhere in the world. That is something people can only dream of and I am very happy I got the opportunity to experience that. I made a family in Armenia and the people I met are always going to be something special in my heart. There is going to be no greater feeling than looking back at this summer and realizing how many different people I had the opportunity to experience Armenia and create memories that will last forever.