Last summer – like my every summer – I spent several weeks in my family’s ancestral Artsvanik village located in Armenia’s southern Syunik Province. There, I met and worked with children my age, some older and many younger. We played, organized and talked, sharing our different life experiences all bound together by our common hopes for our ancient nation.
Upon my return to Washington, DC, I could not have been happier when I learned that an Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) chapter had been established in the city of Kapan. Our local DC chapter, made up of the “Ani” Seniors and the “Sevan” Juniors, has always felt a close connection to Armenia with members expressing an interest in Zoom meetings with their fellow AYFers in the homeland. We realized a great opportunity—a chance to connect two branches of one family: the Armenian youth of Kapan and Greater Washington, DC.
We got to work, setting a date and working out the logistics. And, before long, we had built a bridge, an electronic connection in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 3rd. We organized a sleepover at Soorp Khatch Church for AYF members. There was an educational presentation about the Armenian Genocide. The following day, we turned to the future with an hour-long Zoom call with your young Kapan ungers.
What a wonderful connection…for all of us, our organization, our community, our nation and our cause. We bonded over our shared dreams, our devotion to the safety of our homeland and the protection of our sacred heritage. We worked through differences, like dialects, learning that all that binds us together is infinitely greater than the distance that separates us. It was especially nice to hear how our experiences as AYF members are the same, from our agendas and meetings to our hopes and dreams. We are truly one nation, with one struggle.
all that binds us together is infinitely greater than the distance that separates us.
Members of the Syunik chapter shared personal stories about life on the border, on the very frontier of Armenian freedom. Service and sacrifice run deep in their veins. They are truly sons and daughters of a proud land. We were so very inspired. In turn, we shared life in America’s capital city, where we organized protests and advocated for Armenian rights with Congress and the White House. The Kapan members showed us the letters we had sent them earlier this year, letters that really held great meaning for these smiling boys and girls. Their faces are unforgettable. We came to understand each other better, and in the process came to see ourselves in a new light – a brighter glow, one that will illuminate our path forward. Before wrapping up our meeting, we shared in some fun activities, including a particularly challenging game testing who could eat an apple hanging from a swinging string. Even though we were 5,000 miles apart, we felt as close as sisters and brothers, gathered in a community center. We closed the meeting, closer than we started. Ending with a toast, we all agreed to meet again soon, to deepen our connection and to work together – online and in-person – toward our shared aspirations for our ancient nation.
This was truly an incredible experience and a powerful demonstration of global Armenian solidarity, one we will organize again and again until the day we all meet in Kapan in the light of the Kapan sun and the shadow of our sacred Mount Khustup.