AYF Varadian Spirit Award: To the 120,000 People of Artsakh, accepted by Yeghisapet Chouldjian

2023 Varadian Spirit Award recipient Yeghisapet Chouldjian accepting the award on behalf of the people of Artsakh (Photo: Sona Gevorkian)

The Washington, D.C. Olympics was dedicated to the people of Artsakh from the start, with a moving and notable award at Friday’s Alumni Night—recognition of devoted activist Yeghisapet Chouldjian, who accepted the Varadian Spirit Award on behalf of the “120,000 people of Artsakh who are the true representation of the Varadian spirit—standing strong against Azerbaijan’s genocidal blockade so that their children, our children, will have a better future in our ancestral Artsakh homeland,” she said.

The Varadian family warmly embraced and was honored by Chouldjian’s dedication to the people of Artsakh, stating, “Yeghso is a great choice to personify our spirit…we are honored by this gesture.”

Paul Jamushian, long-time Washington community activist and former AYF advisor, offered his respect to Chouldjian: “She is special…very appropriate and a classic example of the meaning of the Varadian Spirit award. Yeghso is hayaser. The word ‘reward’ is not in her vocabulary. Her acceptance and subsequent respect for the people of Artsakh reflect the meaning of the award…it is never about her.”

Chouldjian began her AYF career on the West Coast as a San Francisco “Rosdom” Chapter member. As an AYFer, she received her bachelor’s degree in material science from UCLA and then switched coasts, transferring to become a Washington, D.C. “Ani” member before leaving AYF in age, not spirit. Throughout her 30 years in the Washington, D.C. community, Chouldjian has established herself as a mainstay. She has served on four Washington, D.C. Olympics Steering Committees, including this year. 

Her multifaceted energies and talents have served many committees well, including Ad Book, Alumni Night, Social, Welcoming, PR and Opening Ceremonies. Additionally, she has served as ARF advisor to the Washington, D.C. chapter for over 20 years. Her guidance has motivated countless young AYF members in the Washington, D.C. area, always encouraging them to get involved in Hai Tahd, athletic, social, educational and cultural activities. Chouldjian has also been lecturer at the annual AYF Junior Seminar for years, where Juniors throughout the Eastern Region have had the opportunity to hear her captivating and awe-inspiring lectures.

AYF Central Executive 2023 Olympic King Ara Kouchakdjian and Yeghisapet Chouldjian, who accepted the Varadian Spirit Award on behalf of the people of Artsakh (Photo: Sona Gevorkian)

“Elizabeth has been a member and advisor to the Washington, D.C. Junior and Senior chapters for over 30 years and has encouraged a well-rounded AYF chapter, including Hai Tahd…her willingness to support the D.C. chapter and community with unwavering time and energy is unsurpassed…Elizabeth and I have worked on four Olympics Steering Committees together…she is peerless,” said Hratch Najarian.

Through her advisorship, the Washington, D.C. chapter has continued to thrive over the years and has proven itself to be one of the strongest chapters in the AYF Eastern Region. The “Ani “ chapter has had strong membership numbers, nonstop support and fundraisers for Artsakh and Armenia, and a persistent focus on the template of Hai Tahd activities. 

“Yeghso is an example of a modern day Fedayee,” said Washington AYF and CE member Maral Areni Margossian. “She has dedicated her life not only to Hai Tahd, but to ensuring that our youth are committed Armenians. She is the beating heart of the Washington, D.C. ‘Ani’ and ‘Sevan’ chapters and continues to inspire so many of us with the work that she leads.”

Chouldjian is the grandchild of Genocide survivors and currently serves as communications director for the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), where she has selflessly and humbly driven our Armenian Cause for some 30 years. “Yeghso is the heart and soul of our operation. Her skills in communication with the various publics we deal with are incredible, and her spirit is an energetic thread in the operations of ANCA. She is who we are,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

With deep devotion, Chouldjian accepted the Varadian Spirit Award:

“To Artsakh with Love”—Yeghso

Note: The AYF Special issue, postponed due to the Artsakh crisis, is en route to our print subscribers this week and will be available online for all next week.

Harry Derderian

Harry Derderian

Harry Derderian is a native of Indian Orchard, Mass and resident of S. Lyon, Mich. He is a member of the marketing faculty at Eastern Michigan University as well as an adjunct professor of business at Schoolcraft Community College.

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