BY LEO MANDANI
LA CRESCENTA, Calif.—The AYF Juniors Crescenta Valley “Karekin Njdeh” Chapter almost doubled their size in the past fiscal year. These new members who were recruited faced the challenge of a rigorous Novice Test. By the end of the year, seventeen members were successful in passing the exam. Included were members who do not speak Armenian.
Following the exams, on Friday, Oct. 10, a crowd of 60 parents, ARF members, AYF members, and enthusiastic spectators gathered at the Crescenta Valley Armenian Center to watch sixteen new youths sworn into the AYF Junior ranks. The oath ceremony was hosted by the ARF Crescenta Valley “Zavarian” committee executive members.
The young, excited members who were about to take their oaths sat in the front rows in eager anticipation. Behind them were dedicated ARF members who were equally excited for the new generation to join this outstanding organization. Scattered around were a mix of happy parents and spectators with smiles on their faces as they saw their children or neighbors walk up to the flag, raise their left hands, and recite the patriotic words of the oath.
However, before the members took their oaths, Unger Mike Kelishian, the usher of the ceremony, made eloquent remarks to the badanees. In his speech, he first explained the important implications of taking an oath and the significance of committing to this organization which plays an important role in maintaining the Armenian heritage and pushing forward the Armenian cause. Then, he continued to discuss the meaning of the oath sworn by the members. Thereafter, these sixteen members raised their left hands and took their oath, in both Armenian and English, becoming official members of the AYF Juniors. Later, the chairman of the “Zavarian” committee, Unger Hrayr Sherikian, spoke to the members and gave them words of encouragement. These words truly moved the badanees and sparked excitement in them.
The executive members of the “Zavarian” committee presented each new member with a symbolic gift, a pin with the ARF emblem, at the end of the ceremony. It was touching to see the oldest ARF member place a symbolic pin on the youngest AYF Junior member. It was a sight to behold. Afterwards, the new members, past members, and ARF members had the opportunity to further interact and bond.