BY LUCY DISHOIAN and RAFFI SENEKEREMIAN
SAN FRANCISCO—A young author once said: “Unity is strength …when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” One of the Armenian Youth Federation’s goals is to keep the Armenian youth united. This past Thanksgiving weekend, our youth came together and became one unit in the beautiful city of San Francisco. In a rare occasion in the recent history of the AYF Western Region two chapters, the San Francisco “Rosdom” Chapter and the Orange County “Ashod Yergat”, worked together to host the 39th Annual AYF Olympics.
The main focus of the weekend was to bring together more than 200 young Armenians from 10 different chapters throughout the Western Region. The AYF has five pillars: political, cultural, educational, athletic, and social. These young active members focused on 2 out of the 5 pillars for the weekend and joined together to compete in athletics during the day and celebrations at night.
This year, both chapters wanted to welcome their guests, in a new and original way; a way only San Francisco can offer, with a “Welcome to San Francisco” Night Cruise that took place Friday night. The members saw San Francisco in style, passing underneath the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, circling Alcatraz Island, and riding alongside the beautiful San Francisco Skyline on a completely clear and unforgettable night.
“I was looking forward to the 2012 AYF Olympics since I first found out it was going to be held in San Francisco. I had only heard of great stories and memories from fellow AYF-agans about the last time this annual tradition took place in SF and I wanted to see what the hype was all about,” explained a Valley “Sardarabad” member Hrag Tomassian. “The Friday Night Yacht Party, the Barahantes, and all the games we played in between, surely made the trip an unforgettable one. The collaboration between the San Francisco ‘Rosdom’ and Orange County ‘Ashod Yergat’ Chapters showed to be a great success.”
After an eventful first night, early Saturday morning members made their way to the Burlingame Soccer Center, located around the corner from the Embassy Suites. Different chapters made their way to the field, prepared to have a full day of games and hoped to be the chapter that would be victorious and have the honor of lifting up the trophies. Every chapter was ready with their equipment, chapter shirts and even chants were heard from some. “IS THE JUICE WORTH THE SQUEEZE?!” was a chant heard from the Orange County huddle, led by Nareg Zaher.
The games began, with dodge ball being the first sport of the day. After a few hard fought elimination games, the Orange County “Ashod Yergat” Chapter sweeped its competition and came out victorious. Shortly after, the sport switched to soccer, with first match being played between both hosting chapters, San Francisco and Orange County. San Francisco had home field advantage and ultimately stole the match from Orange County. They fought their way to the championship game but came up short against Valley for the second year in a row. Between the games, the members were refueled by the Taco Truck that was brought to the field. After a small break, the chapters found their focus once again and headed back onto the field for the final sport of the day, flag football. The Valley “Sardarabad” chapter fought their way through the competition and came out victorious again in flag football, bringing an end to a day of competitive sports giving Valley two trophies and Orange County one.
After the games, members had time to return to their hotel rooms to prepare for the weekend’s final event: the AYF Olympics Barahantes. Everyone got onto the shuttles and headed towards the Khatchaturian Armenian Center, where the community was waiting for the members to come together and celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the Armenian Youth Federation. The night started off with a short program, made memorable by the guest speaker of the night, George Atashkarian, One of the oldest and most respected AYF Alumni members whose life was changed 80 years ago when he heard General Karekin Njdeh speak, and Saturday night he did the same for almost 200 young AYF members sitting and listening to his words of wisdom. Once the program ended, both hosting committees came together and cut the cake for the 80th Anniversary of the AYF and the fun began. Chapters were together celebrating their victories from earlier that day and more importantly celebrating 80 years of continuous hard work by the AYF and its members. The night was livened up by singer, Khatchig Jingirian and his band that played non-stop late into the night and ended the night with everyone singing ‘Aryunod Trosh’ together as one.
“After a year of hard work put in from both Orange County and San Francisco chapters, we all had a memorable event. We’ve put in a lot of effort into this weekend and hearing such great feedback from our members made it worth everything” said Orange County Chair, Hrache Novruzyan. “We thank everyone who came out to share this amazing weekend with us!”
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the United States working to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.