Armenian Conversation Hour at the AYF Olympics

Members of the Central Language Council and other AYF members participating in «Միտքս Փոխէ», September 4, 2021 (Photo: Leeza Arakelian)

This year, the AYF Eastern Region brought a new committee into the works called the Central Language Council (CLC). This committee was created to address Armenian language issues in our region. Due to our tragic history, our generation is coming head first from the remnants of the Armenian Genocide as the Western Armenian dialect has been designated an endangered language. When our members come together, the majority of the time they resort to speaking English and neglect our mother tongue, Armenian. This neglect of the mother language could be due to many different factors including differing levels of Armenian language proficiency, clashing dialects, or maybe the fact that English just flows easier. Despite these reasons, together we must create a safe space within our communities to practice our Armenian conversational skills and comprehension. 

As a group of five AYF members who are extremely passionate about defending and restoring Armenian language proficiency in the region, CLC is always looking for ways to create these safe spaces to spread the comfort of the mother tongue throughout the region. 

As the 87th Annual AYF-YOARF Olympic Games was approaching, the CLC, which also unfortunately resorts to speaking English in certain settings, knew that the sweet hums of the Armenian language were not necessarily going to be roaming freely among AYF members during the long weekend. 

For this reason, CLC decided to bring a judgment-free Armenian language conversation hour to the event for all of our members, no matter their proficiency, to come and converse with us about topics they may have never discussed in Armenian. 

We named this safe space «Միտքս Փոխէ», which directly translates to “Change my Mind.” 

On Saturday of the AYF Olympics, the CLC set up a white board just near the entrance of the basketball gym. The CLC wrote a few prompts ranging from silly statements like «Ջուրը թաց է» which translates to “water is wet,” to more serious topics like «Հայը պէտք չէ գնէ Թրքական ապրանք” which translates to “Armenians should not buy Turkish products.” After stating these prompts, the committee members would say to the participants «Միտքս Փոխէ» (change my mind). This one statement sparked many conversations, as some of the CLC members played “devil’s advocate” to ensure those who participated could get the most out of the conversation. 

The CLC of the AYF Eastern Region would like to thank the AYF members who pushed through their discomfort and engaged with these prompts. The future of our beautiful mother language is in our hands. We all have the ability to create these safe spaces, to speak to our friends in Armenian, to improve our Armenian language skills, and most of all, to pass the language on to our future generations better than we have received it. 

Galy Jackmakjian

Galy Jackmakjian

Galy Jackmakjian has been an active member of the AYF-YOARF Washington DC "Ani" Chapter. She has also served many leadership roles in the HMEM DC Chapter throughout her life. Galy is currently serving on the AYF Eastern Region's Central Armenian Language Council, as language and Armenian preservation are one of her many passions.

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